About 8 years ago, the shop was open on Broadway and Ontario. I was in need of another artist to fill a chair and Mark walked in. When potential artists come looking for work, I usually look at their portfolios and take a day or 2 to decide, unless it's real mediocre stuff or poor stuff, in that case, I shut 'em down right there. But Mark was a whole other story. I said "can you start tomorrow?" Ha!! He agreed. Now, we had another secret weapon in the shop to combat any mediocrity in the city.

Every artist has their own style and some artists, these days, don't. They have someone else's style. This can be seen in the trend of repetitive traditional tattooing. Some artists don't travel outa their comfort zone. Mark doesn't have a comfort zone, he's uncomfortable all the time, that's why he does great work like this!!

If I was to categorize his style, I would say it's a cross between action hero comic books and realism. See these dragons he's doing, that's what dragons look like in real life, for your information. And this is what Heather our shop helper and owner of THE GOODS SCREENING AND APPAREL ON BROADWAY AT KINGSWAY just across from the KINGS GATE MALL looks like when she's on the toilet! Go talk to her, maybe you can buff her flamed helmet and then, she can buff yours... if not, go purchase some of their items, or get some shirts printed.

Maybe you're just like the rest of the world and really enjoy collecting fetus skeletons and want to pay tribute to your collection with a tattoo of one in a test tube! Or maybe you are a girl who likes to drive tanks and destroy sh*t. BAM!!!

If so, Mark will do it.

Maybe you want that portrait of your dalmatian. Y'know, that special photo you took of him before he died from smoking may mean everything to you. At least you got one before he died!! And now, you could remember him FOREVER the way he was when he was happiest...before the tar in his lungs turned into tumors and suffocated him to death.

Whatever it is, realistic, Japanese, bio-mechanical, color, black and grey... come down and talk to Mark. Come down and talk about hobos, government, food, Bart Simpson, the dumpster, the broom...christmas socks.


Some of what we do is stuff that most artists in the city won't do. Saying that we do the impossible is close, but if we can do it how can it be impossible? It's skill level that makes it possible! Sometimes, an artist will say "it can't be done that small" and sometimes it's true, there are pieces that can be too small, like some high detailed fonts, but most of the time what these are really saying "I can't do it that small." Professionally, it would be better to tell it like it is to a client because the client will then decide wether to search for an artist who CAN and not have to compromise their original decision on size or settle. Some clients are open minded enough to let an artist "try" or go with it and accept the tattoo in a larger size. John Day's angel (above) took 4 hours... no outlines...just shades of color. No compromising here.

This is Yolanda's cover up... a mediocre under water scene is replaced by a high detailed realistic coral scene.

It boils down to skill level. Some artists will even say "in 10 years the lines will be fuzzy and the details gone"... another excuse. That is something that is impossible to predict! Exposure to sun, their pre disposed aging due to genetics, elasticity of the skin... after care, weight gain, muscle gain... all these things are factors!! But, let's just say, if that were true, that "in 10 years, the detailed, fine line tattoo will look like a turd", then so will the thick bold black lines they prefer to do! May be even worse!!! I don't know which would be worse a faded single needle line which could turn a light grey with shading that will disappear, or a dark bold line which will only get thicker with a grey fuzz around it.

Portraits and realistic work are standards used to measure an artist's general skill by. It takes eye-hand coordination to do these. First a stencil is placed on the skin, marking every subtle shade or wrinkle, the eyelashes, the highlights... and then it's up to the artist to translate the shade or value for that particular area wether it's by mixing the color or thinning down the black ink with water, BY EYE. Some artists excel in "traditional" style tattooing, which today is recognized as trendy, just like the tribal armband of the 90's. It does take some skill to draw a tattoo to match the style of tattooing's early pioneers (skulls with square eyes..), but the technique used to actually tattoo this style of work is rudimentary. Lining with a 7 - 9 needle liner and doing solid color is what most artists learn in their first few months of holding a machine.

This portrait was small, the guy's arm was skinny so he didn't have much room to work with, the face alone was approximately just over an inch wide so imagine the size of the eyes. This is single needle stuff!! The shades making the muscle tones, and facial details wasn't all done in blacks or greys... I won't let the cat out of the bag but any GOOD artist will be able to look at an image and instinctively know what to mix to get there.

Some areas are hard to work on. Just look at the surface of the skin! There are dips and valleys, occasionally there are creases, moles... going from soft areas to hard bony areas!! It's not an easy job... a professional can make it look easy but it can be the most frustrating thing ever.

Some clients have great skin to work on! Even the subtle-est greys show up on them. This portrait was a pleasure to do!! This was freshly done so there is a little redness but you can see on the hat and the collar that Seio's skin was great for portraits. Don't mean to toot our own horn... TOOOOOOOOOOOOOT! But this is what WE CAN do. We are doers. As Wentzle Ruml would say, "I can do it, I'm doin' it." He's the guy 27 seconds in... you must see this movie, even if you don't skate...

SO, after work, do you know what time it is? Hungry?

how bout now?

Work all day... eat in the evening... digest all night... sweat all night digesting meat... wake up, put out a bi- product that looks like the baked beans in the picture.. with a side of what looks like the lemonade in the picture... clean up and do it again.

Julie with full body tattoos

Julie with full body tattoos


This woman had cancer and both breasts were removed and reformed with implants. The problem was that during the operation they even remove the nipples! She came in asking about having the nipples tattooed on, she had seen it done in photos at her doctor's office but the work was VERY BASIC - not much more than a pink circle. Since her niece was a client at the Funhouse, she asked her about us and if we could do the job. She came down to consult and I told her that on the day of the appointment, to bring in pictures of what she'd like. Size and shape are crucial!!

A few weeks went by and the day of the appointment had arrived. I got to the shop early and started to set up the privacy area. She arrived on time and I asked "Are you ready?" and then told her the usual "this is going to be f*cking great!" She was a little nervous, and understandably so! When she took her shirt off it was as if she was sexless... what I mean to say was that she didn't seem to feel any modesty or embarrassment, she was totally expressionless. There was no effort to cover up or hesitation to show herself in front of a stranger. It wasn't as if she was an exhibitionist, more like she had no nipples to identify her as a woman so she didn't feel like a woman, and didn't feel that it was offensive to expose herself to anyone. She layed down and I drew the nipples on with a pen, centering them exactly where she liked them to be and started to work.

Her sister was there for support and as the first one was finished, I noticed the look on her sister's face. I finished the first one and gave her a quick look and moved on to the second one. In total, I think the job took 1.5 hours. When I finished, I asked her to go to the stand up mirror and check herself out. She got up, NOT COVERING HERSELF UP in any way (as she was used to this), and when she saw herself in the mirror, her hands immediately and instinctively raised up to cover herself! What she saw was not the sexless torso that the cancer had left her with... she had tears in her eyes!!

Tattoos are great. They do alot for people... wether it's a portrait of a friend...

or these fairies like on Tammy's arm, from her favorite book...

Anything is possible you'll know when you find it and you know where to go when you do!

Transworld Skateboarding Magazine/ Now and then...

This appeared in the new Trans World Skateboarding Magazine. This is the June 2010 issue.
I was at the grocery store buying some sh*t and picked it up, started flipping through it and on page 60 there it was. It was so great to have a mention like this, especially to be on the same page as Steve and Micke Alba and the Pappas brothers, all of which are friends of ours.

Skateboarding really does have a colorful history. It's so mainstream now, more than it has ever been and people don't realize what it took for it to be so accepted! The obstacles, we all had to go through. Sometimes surviving on small paychecks, unlike now, where there are million dollar shoe and clothing endorsements!

Thanks to people like Danny Way who pioneered the Mega ramp, people like Tony Hawk who was so advanced in his early days, blowing away all the established pros of that era and continued to do so for decades... thanks also to Duane Peters who set a standard for attitude and resilience - bouncing back from serious injuries and DEATH!!... we never thought about why we did what we did, it just came naturally - tattooing, punk and skateboarding and now, most of top professionals are tattooed! That was no accident! People take if for granted but there is a reason for the evolution!

We were all kids who loved to skate and for us, it has kept us young. It has done so much for us as people... Unlike team sports, skateboarding promoted individuality, self esteem, physical fitness and creativity... you didn't have to worry about losing the game FOR THE WHOLE TEAM because you didn't catch the ball, and then have to face ridicule from the rest of the jocks!! You could progress at your own pace or you could strive to be like your skate heroes and learn the tricks they did. Your goal could be to get as crazy at the Upland Pipeline skatepark as Steve and Micke Alba did...

you could learn layback roll outs like Duane Peters !!!

T-Bone Photo.

This was from our generation... we were kids looking up to them before we turned pro in 1985!!

Wanna say thanks to Mackenzie Eisenhour for the write up! Let's do an interview!!!