I really didnt know much about I-45 Ink that is run by Nate Beavers and Jason Ramirez, but was curious of finding out. I had in my mind just a quick interview with couple of questions, but luckily it expanded to a pretty big piece. I didnt know who was going to answer them, but it was Nate Beavers who took the charge. Nate was kind enough to answer these question even thou he was in the middle of Hell City Tattoo convention. And thats one of the things that stuck on my head about Nate. He is really fun and easy to get along with and didnt mind even if I asked follow ups after follow ups. Infact he liked it. He is the kinda tattoo artist that people should aspire to be like. Enjoy.
Pyrrhus Darwin Castello: How have you all been? How long is it since you opened I-45 Ink?
Nate Beavers: We have been open now for about 2 months and things are going really good. I couldn't hope for a better amount of business on both appoinments and walk-ins. It's awesome. I thank God for how well we are doing in such a short time. It's inspiring.
PDC: Where are you located and how is the place like?
NB: We are located at 9305 Gulf Frwy., Houston,Texas, right on the side of a major freeway in Houston and the cross street is the same street that the Hobby Aiport is on. It's Airport/ College exit. It's in a strip center, and it's almost 3000 sq ft, with about 500 of that being art gallery space. It's unheard of in Houston.
PDC: Strip center? Like strippers?
NB: Haha. No strippers. But there is an adult modeling studio next door and a message parlour. It's in kind of a mini-mall of lease spaces on the side of the freeway.
PDC: Did you use any other tattoo shops as your inspiration when building it?
NB: We were inspired by my friend Jeff Shea's shop it's called Wholeshot in Detroit, and of course Big Brain in Omaha. That shop is huge and has an art gallery for the college students in the front room. It's nice. So, we definitely emulated those guys.
PDC: How many high end tattoo shops are there in Houston?
NB: There are not many high end shops in Houston, and definitely not in our area of town. Scorpion Studios is the other custom shop that has been well established in Houston. Dan Martin and his crew are good friends with our shop. We plan on doing some art projects and things in the future. It's good to interact with other shops. It's just hard to find shop owners who are team players.
PDC: I have to admit that I am little confused on how did you guys get started. I mean, werent you just recently tattooing in 713 Tattoos thats also in Texas?
NB: I met Jason Ramirez at 713 Tattoo, we hit it off immediately and together we decided to open our own spot.I was there for about 7 months. I needed to have a place that i could call my own, and be able to make business decisions. Most shop owners aren't that flexible, plus, it doesn't make sense to build somone elses business up for them, I should put that effort into something that will last for myself and the future.
PDC: Was making the decision to open up your own shop difficult and what convinced you to go ahead and take this step?
NB: I was difficult, because Cory Rogers and I have been friends for a long time and i didn't want to force him into a decision to leave, so, I had to go on without him, but we are still good friends and will be doing some collaborative art work as well.
PDC: So its Jason aka Dzine and you who own the shop, am I right?
NB: Yes, we both own the shop and Dzine is a memorial to Jason's brother, who died a while back. He is carrying on his name, and we will never forget him.
PDC: I am so sorry to hear that. May he be at peace. Can you tell me about how did the line up for the shop came to play and whos in it?
NB: The line up just kind of happened. We have a large crew. Jason Ramirez, Rick Clark, George D, Omar Hernandez, Buck Sharp, and myself. And a couple more heavy hitters who are not here just yet, so, i don't wanna put there name out there yet, but it's gonna be good. Rick and I work really well together, and you will see many collaborations from us in the future.
PDC: What type of backgrounds do all you hail from?
NB: We all worked some street shops and have been trying to make the leap to custom artists. The flash will always pay the bills, but we try to draw most of what we do. And there is no flash displayed on the walls, we wanted it to be clean and just framed art on the walls. It's got a modern feel to it.
PDC: You seem to have a pretty versitale bunch of artists in I-45 Ink. Was it intentional to have artists that can rock different styles?
NB: Yes. I wanted to pick artists that could do different things well and in hopes of making everyone better at all styles by feeding off each other. The friendly competition is what makes each of us grow and i hope it will continue for a long time...
PDC: What would you say are each individual artists strong points?
NB: Well, Rick Clark and myself have similar styles, so the portraits and realism stuff. I like to do the strange hybrid stuff too. Omar, George, and Jason all do mainly black and gray style pieces and buck does some bio mech stuff and a lot of the color walk in business.....so, it's a good variety.
PDC: Theres a heavy horror vibe in all of your work. Was it one of the key elements why this motley crue came together?
NB: Well, the horror thing is not a main focus. I actually prefer animal portraits, and Rick Clark and I where talking about how we both prefer doing animal portraits and black and gray people portraits as well, but I guess the bloody girls and zombies have been the fun stuff we get to do. It's what we do when we get to do whatever we want. It doesn't happen that often though. Most people have a specific design in mind..
PDC: I really like the new dog with Japanese theme to it that you guys just did. How did you think of mixing Japanese to realism? It flows really nicely.
NB: Thanx...I wanted to do something different. I didn't want people to say, ya, another dog portrait. I wanted to cause them to look at the piece longer, and add some type of flow with that background. It kind of just happened. I was looking at some of Shige's work online, and got inspired by him. I think it's the next step. To intertwine Japanese, realism, and even old school Americana. I wanna make one moster of it all. But it's hard.
PDC: I think you both did good, because it caught my eye right away. And I can see same vibe in your paintings that are called "Why me Lord" and "Beavers & Rogers print". The first one reminds me little bit of Marco Cerretellis tattoo work. Its cool. How did you get the idea for it, and how do you yourself like the end result?
NB: Well the first one I did for the 100 Faces of Mary art show at Transcend, but I missed the deadline. lol.....So, the idea is Mary asking "why me?" and looking kind of worried....or scared...that is how that one came about. It's mostly watercolor and prismacolor. The Sharon Tate tribute that Cory Rogers and I did is for a new book coming out by Shag. It's kind of the follow up to Old Ghosts. I believe it's called Bella. All female themed pieces....so, I wanted something that was gonna be different and I have always wondered what really happened at La Bianca...so, I used Sharon Tate as the main focus of the piece, and Cory enhanced it with his style. It works well together I think.
PDC: How was it working with Cory?
NB: I liked working with Cory. He was my muse.We developed a lot of ideas together. He is a fun guy too. We would always cut up and laugh about ideas that we had and he can draw like a maniac. He is really good at drawing fast. And well.
PDC: Who would you like to work in the future? In tattoos or painting.
NB: I would like to do more painting. I don't get much time to do so, I wish I could paint more. I will always try to push the limits on the tattoos and I will always try to mix styles.
PDC: Besides the ideas, what have you gained from painting that you can use when tattooing?
NB: I use it as a tool to set up designs. I can test out new ideas. I think watercolor is similar to tattooing. I work on color schemes on paper first.
PDC: Are you a strictly custom studio or do you do walk-ins too?
NB: We do it all and we try to make everyone feel at home. No matter how small or large the tattoo. The walkins are what put food on the table and actually it's good to just do a no brainer tattoo once in a while to break up the stress of having to produce a stellar design everytime...it's rough.
PDC: I did interview with Jesse Smith just now and he said the exact same thing. That its fun to finish a piece on one sitting sometimes. Do clients realise that how stressful it can be to make high end custom stuff all the time? Do they show there appreciation in other way than just paying you?
NB: I prefer to finish things in one shot but it doesn't always happen for the larger tattoos. The clients don't always know how hard it is, they assume that we can do it all and fast. They never fully understand the time for reference and actually creating the design. Even using photoshop seems to eat up time. Most clients treat me well, and tip well, with either money or gifts or trade for some skill that they do. We both get something out of the deal.
PDC: Will there be guest artists in the future?
NB: We would like to have as many as want to come. I have Dan Henk coming soon, and Lenny Len, and Anthony Orsatti. And many more...
PDC: Sounds great. I wouldnt mind getting something from Dan myself. Do you think that clients these days expect there do be guest artists when a new studio opens?
NB: I think that most people are oblivious to the real tattoo world and they're all hung up on the tv show stuff, and think those are the elite stars of the tattoo industry. And that's just lack of knowledge on there part. We try to school them when we get the chance.
PDC: Is there a danger that they just wait for the big names to come there and dont get stuff from house artists?
NB: The house artists will always be busy and the big names have there own clients usually, so, it doesn't really effect the normal flow of work.
PDC: Do you think that because tattoos have become more accessible because the ever growing media coverage, it has lost maybe a little bit of danger around it, and people start to treat artists as objects and don´t respect their privacy as much? I mean, if they would act the same towards someone like Stan "Bowery" Moskowitz as they maybe do to Kat Von D... Well, the outcome can be pretty different.
NB: Ha ha...that would be insane. I think it would be fun. The old timers of the industry would probably fist fight the media. It would have spawned something like "tattoo fights", sort of like the modern day "bum fights". Merely speculation on that one. I just think the skills of the tattooist were meant to stay underground at that time. It's the foundation of what it is today. It was necessary at the time.
PDC: So you arent one of the "remember the good ol days" kinda people?
NB: I am big on nostalgia, I love the traditional elements in tattooing. I will always admire the tattoo maker. I was influenced by there work in the beginning. Mainly Bert Grimm, Percy Waters.. and also people like Dan Higgs and and Freddy Corbin. Marcus Pacheco. And Grime of course.
PDC: Ah, Grime. When I interviewed Mike Giant just now, I asked him that who he thinks is pushing the art of tattooing the furthest at this moment, and he said Filip Leu and Grime. Whats makes Grime so good?
NB: What makes Grime so good is the composition of his designs. They are just cool. I think it's the graffitti element. It adds a cool twist to the traditional based art. It's kind of a warped version of it, and the color schemes... The whole package is well executed. I really like the stuff he does with screen printed material. I don't hear much about Marcus Pacheco, but he will always be a bad ass. I saw him doing insane work years before I knew anything about the industry.
PDC: Relating to this. There has been some talk about the next step in tattooing. And some people have said that maybe it would be good to have tattoo schools. There is the 3-day courses and what not, but not like 3-year schools where tattoo artists would teach. If this hypothetical situation would happen, I would be the first one to say fuck that shit. Because you dont learn one of the most important aspects of tattooing in schools, and that is how to interact with people. And with school you could have major corporation investing on them and then just opening a chain of stores with people out of the school. That would mean less places for people who love this to open there shops. I think this would be totally the wrong way and I think that the old way of tattoo apprenticeship should be the way in the future too. You can go to art school, but if you want to become a Tattoo Artists, then you can apply to a shop. What do you think?
NB: I agree. I don't want the McDonald's tattoo school to open up worldwide, creating tattooists that just work for money. You have to have the love of the industry and the art. And a respect for those who came before. I hope the mechanical elements don't get lost, and the apprenticeship should remain the same.
PDC: Do you feel that the ever-growing media interest around tattoos can be harmful to artists? Like instead of people finding a artist through word of mouth and naturally gravitating towards them, they just want a tattoo from them because they have seen that person in TV. What are the pros and cons of tattoos becoming more mainstream?
NB: Well the big concern is people who watch the shows becoming a know it all overnight, and that makes for painful interaction with the tattooist for sure. I think it makes it a viable option for big business to take over the industry as well. And I don't think that would be good at all.
PDC: Isnt the show Tattoo Wars supposed to be filmed in Hell City? Where you actually are just at this very moment.
NB: Yes it is. I want to check that out. It will be interesting. It's a new take on the tattoo show thing.
PDC: I hope you made it intime for your tattoo appointment :) How has it been this far? Any cool tattoos on the works by you? Anybody blowing peoples minds?
NB: I made that tattoo in time and I got lucky and won tattoo of the day with it. I did a portrait of Monica Belucci as Cleopatra. I was stressed that I wasn't going to finish in time for the competition, but I think stress is good to help produce amazing work. There was some stiff competition too... Some incredible work by great artists. I had to keep my fingers crossed.
PDC: Cool! I dont think luck had anything to do with it. Did you have to work it in besides other tattoos or was the client a virgin?
NB: The client was a friend and collector. She was sitting in my hotel room beforehand helping with the design and ideas. It just kind of happened. it was not planned. I think I do get lucky sometimes though...hahah
PDC: Is this one your favorite shows or do you like the smaller ones better?
NB: I think this show is an awesome show. I do like the smaller ones, just because you have more interaction between artists. Instead of asking someone, "hey where is..." haha
PDC: But of course this is a great buzz for your new shop. To get best of the day at this kinda event. People in Houston should be gratefull to have artists like you in there town. If shop like yours would be in my town. Holy shit! Btw. How come people who are surrounded be great artists, still go to hacks?
NB: I am still trying to figure that out..hahaa. It's because people buy into the hype of it all and shop owners talk a lot of shizzle sometimes. I hope that I can make a difference.
PDC: What would be your all star tattoo shop? If you could pick anybody, both living and dead? Lets say 5 people.
NB: Robert Hernandez, Shige, Uncle Allen, Nick Baxter, and Nikko Hurtado....that shop would kill.
PDC: Heres my own dream team. I would choose Jesse Smith (www.kaoticenzymes.com) Mike Giant (www.mikegiant.com) Kore Flatmo (www.plurabella.com) Cory Kruger (www.krugertattoos.com) Tim Hendricks (http://saltwatertattoo.com).
Dammit! Thats not enough! :) Lets pick 5 guest artists too. Mine would be. Joshua Carlton (www.joshuacarlton.com) Electrick Pick (www.electricpick.com) Rudy Fritsch (www.originalclassictattoo.com) Grime (www.grimemonster.com) and Ed Hardy (www.tattoocitysf.com) Now you go.
NB: Boris, Tattoo Mick, Filip Leu, Matt Shamah, Carson Hill.
PDC: One can only dream... Who have you got tattoos by yourself?
NB: Gunnar, Hunter Spanks, Cory Rogers, Lucky, and Clint Lefieste
PDC: Speaking of great artists. You can see tattoo artists pull stuff out of there hats that wasnt even dreamed 10 years ago. And because of that, you have people that are curious, even worried, on how will they hold up. Some artists say that it doesnt matter what kinda stuff you do, as long its done the right way. Then again some people say that only good tattoo will be eventually the one with simple black shading and clear black lines. Whats your take on the subject?
NB: That is the seperation of styles and clicks of tattooists that make for drama. Everyone should be professional and get along and team up against the shops that don't care about quality, instead of making war against other fellow artists who are good tattooists.
PDC: This is one of my regular questions. As you know, tattoo artists have to take care of there back as well as the rest of their body (hands, eyes, arms, etc.) so that they can endure a long lasting career without pain or injury. Do you think that clients should be advised, aside from how to take care of their tattoo, on how to improve the canvas (skin) that they offer to tattoo artists? Because if you really love the art, shouldn't you offer the ideal canvas for it?
NB: That would be a good idea, because most clients don't know and don't realize how much better it could be.
PDC: What kinda people do you think will gravitate towards your shop?
NB: We like to cater to the area we are in, so, it will always have a southeast Houston feel.. Kind of urban... Lot's of black and gray stuff... But we are educating the public on what a good tattoo is, so, that may change. And I do a lot of tattoos on people who are travelling, so, its a good mix .
PDC: How important is the vibe in a tattoo shop? Do you think that customers want something out of the ordinary when they walk in a tattoo shop?
NB:The vibe is everything. It can make or break a shop and customers just want to feel like you care. The tattoo they're looking for means the world to them, even if it's not up your alley as far as design or style. So, you should help make them feel like they're important and there business is important as well. I want everyone to leave with a good tattoo and a smile on there face.
PDC: What can customers excpect when they come to I-45 Ink?
NB: They can expect a good tattoo and a good time getting it. We are always cutting up and have a good dialogue with our clients. So, they will not be disappointed. Plus they can get almost any style done well. It's awesome.
PDC: Havent you just put out a DVD? Whats in it?
NB: Three Skulls, three styles. That's pretty much it.I go from start to finish and an overview of supplies.
PDC: Where you inspired by Kore Flatmos skull book?
NB: I haven't seen it actually..haha.... I have heard good things about it. Snd he is definitely an inspiration to me for a long time. He is an awesome tattooist.
PDC: Kore is amazing. But, I think this interview has come to and end. I will stop bugging you and let you go and have fun at Hell City. I hope you liked this interview. It shure was one of the fastest that I have done so far. Thank you for your time and good luck for the shop
NB: Thank you again and yes I have made many new friends here. And enjoyed talking shop in between tattooing and working the show. I have seen some amazing stuff. Especially from Mike Devries, Nikko, Nick Baxter, Jeff Ensminger and Josh Carlton of course. It has been good. Thank you so much for the opportunity to answer some questions on the shop and spread the word. We are truly blessed.............peace, Nate
Nate was really fun guy to interview and great shop they have there in Houston. He really cares so much about hes craft and it shows. The whole shop has been build around love and respect and to me that is the one of the most important aspects of a great shop. It feels so good to know that there are people out there who want to make things better for clients and artists too. As I said to Nate, if this kinda studio would be at my hometown.. Well, that would be just amazing. This is the kinda shop I dont mind talking or writing about, because you get such a good vibe out of it. And on top of that, the guys put out great skin art. So all you people in Houston who want amazing skin art from the people at I-45 Ink, don´t hesitate to stop at the shop. I am positive that they will make you feel right at home and you can have art to be proud of. I wish all the best for the guys and I know we will be hearing good things about them in the years to come.
Artists: Nate Beavers, Jason Ramirez, Rick Clark, George D, Omar Hernandez, Buck Sharp
Shop: I-45 Ink
Address: 9305 GULF FWY HOUSTON TX 77017. Phone 713-941-8787
ps. Grime and Marcus Pacheco too have had there new shop Primal Urge SF open for business for a little while. So if you want to see if the hype is for real, check them out too. www.primalurgesf.com