Need an artist or shop recommendation?Give us a description of the tattoo you're looking for and we'll try to match you up with a great local artist or shop!
Aubrey Trufant: Steve, how many years have you been tattooing? I did my first tattoo around the end of 1996 so that means I have been tattooing for nearly 20 years. Not necessarily full on Traditional Japanese, I love it and I’ve witnessed it first hand in Japan but I’m not from there. SB: Dave Lum, Mike Malone, Jason Brooks, Chris Trevino, Richard Stell, Oliver Peck… All the usual suspects!
With a population of around 821,000, there are lots of potential customers for the parlors in town.
The talent in this city alone is overwhelming but I spent some of my time at Rock of Ages Tattoo (ROA). We lived in Florida for a while, the UK for a year or so… I had a fair amount of offers on the table, but when the opportunity arrived to move here and work at Rock of Ages, I jumped at it. If you want to stay busy, you do nice work and treat people right, that’s the same the world over. That doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate it, know your stuff and all but I’m no expert with the stories and all the myths.

I held the shop in really high regard, pretty much considered it one of the best tattoo shops in the United States since it’s inception. Just when I think I’m getting somewhere and I’m enjoying my work, he’ll bust out something that makes me just want to quit. Gold Rush, NY Adorned, Chicago Tattoo Company are all awesome… My trip to Spotlight Tattoo was great. Google Places lists 229 different tattoo shops in the Austin area, which shows how competitive the city truly is. They live and breathe tattooing, which has established Rock of Ages as one of the best shops in Austin. I was originally going to work for Jason Brooks, part-time I guess, but he decided to sell the shop to Tony and I.
That helps for gaining trust with walk-ins but especially with serious collectors, already aware of my work, there seems to be 100 percent creative control… So, it’s about the same really. I’m not proud, I’m always asking the guys for help with drawings, color schemes, stuff like that… we all are.
Tattooing isn’t everything in life but it certainly has given me a lot and it means a great deal to me.

Working at Spotlight, hanging out with Bob Roberts at his house and watching him paint… Having the opportunity to work with so many amazing tattoo artists is something I’m always going to be grateful for. One of the most eye-opening moments I had as a new tattooer, I’d been tattooing a year maybe, was when getting a critique from Bugs at Evil From The Needle.
When doing research for your artist, we suggest not paying too much attention to price because quality is much more important when you’re going to be living with the artwork for the rest of your life. I was already unpacking, behind the counter and everything… I’m like, “Nice to meet you mate! This far in, looking down the ladder at the people involved in tattooing, attitudes towards the craft and the originality of the tattoo work show, I’m starting to understand more what that meant.

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