Let it be known that any images or text on these pages or any other pages connected to Uncle Tim Heitkotter or Blue Tiki Tattoo are the property of Don T.
How else would art or anything else evolve if nothing changes and avenues go unexplored? You never know what's going to come through the door. Later, I began painting signs with my father in his sign shop in 1958 where I filled in huge letters on a billboard at the age of 5. Heitkotter (aka Uncle Tim) and cannot be reproduced, copied, quoted or used in any manner without the expressed written consent of Don T. I like to think that I've helped people through that article to improve their lettering skills. I've been drawing my whole life and after dropping out of the lame art program at Foothill College, my career led me to body and paint work and eventually to custom paint. This is a private studio that is not open to the general public, so walk-ins are not available.
I was painting various imagery on my friends' motorcycles for years so tattooing was a natural progression for me. Around 1976 I began to pinstripe and built a fairly large clientel in about two years so I quit the auto body business and went full time striping cars and bikes. My signpainting skills came into play as sophisticated clients wanted more lavish designs and this helped polish my airbrushing skills.
Lastly, the classic Sailor Jerry Hula girl is just begging for a little extra for that romantic island flavor.
I love to mix Japanese with Polynesian and throw in a little Kustom Kulture to spice things up.
There was also a local Monterey County guy named Alan Smith whom I ripped off every chance I got.
Other sign guys like the late Rick Glawson and guys like Gary Rhodes, Noel Webber, Mark Otis and Carl Rohrs blew my mind with unique approaches to the trade. I won all sorts of awards at car shows and enjoyed attending Letterhead and Pinhead events, sometimes even getting a chance to share my techniques to a gathering crowd.
I've never been afraid to mix styles that aren't supposed to be mixed and this gives me freedom to explore. Some stare for a while before their smile breaks, but always love to look at them with a positive reaction. After lettering about a hundred race cars I began racing myself and enjoyed three years of NASCAR dirt track racing. After working for a couple of local shops, in 1997, I opened up Studio 13 Tattoo in Prunedale, Calif and eventually moved to Salinas in 1998. I started doing tattoo conventions and began winning awards in 2000 and have been winning at shows ever since,(that is if I can get the clients to hang around long enough to participate). I do different tattoos every day here on Kauai and at the shows, but these, by far, are some of my favorite ideas.
Of course I do just about any design that is interesting, but I prefer to let loose and get nuts.
However, once everybody found out I knew how to letter and pinstripe, it seemed like everybody wanted to be my friend all of a sudden.
Guys like Iggy Evans, Erno Szabady, Steve Hendricks, Adam Roach, RJ and Dotty Musolf, Catfish Carl, Rick Walters, Robert Atkinson, Danielle Oberosler, Jack Rudy, Dave Gibson, Henry Goldfield, Da Wei Zhang, Tennesee Dave and especially my new pal Larry Allen, have helped me more than they realize. A strange guy named Dave Lum has also given me artistic freedom by simply being who he is and I've never met him.
Even though I haven't written seriously for the magazine in awhile, I still contribute now and then however I can. Anyone who knows me will tell you how much I respect this business for the noble craft it is by refusing hate related work and placements that will insult the trade.
This is very funny because I think Henry Goldfield is the best lettering guy in the business. But, thank you all for your support.When I first started tattooing I actually hated tribal. After spending time here on Kauai I began to see the beauty of Polynesian and other South Pacific imagery and became drawn to the intricate designs and their meanings. Asking for a discount is a slap in the face to any legitimate tattoo artist who has spent many years perfecting their craft. Please be on time and be ready when you show up for your appointment for the courtesy of others. Although they have helped the popularity of tattooing, those shows have also been successful at spreading tons of misinformation around about the tattoo trade.
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