An Interview with Tattoo Artist Tom Reid “Tattoo Tom”
Posted on November 30 2011
We at Tat2x believe that tattooing is a true art form that extends far beyond the generic idea of tattooing. Tattoo artists unfortunately don’t get the credit they deserve for the skill and commitment required to mastering their trade.
We love everything tattoo which is why we’ve chosen to start featuring the artists that make the magic happen here on our blog.
Tat2x is not affiliated with any of the tattoo artists/shops featured on our blog. Nor do we endorse the views expressed or services they offer. If you’re thinking about getting a tattoo be sure to do your research.
Without further ado, meet Tom Reid, a custom artist currently working out of Racine Wisconsin.
Tat2x: How long have you been in the tattoo business?
Tom: 22 Years
Tat2x: What made you decide to become a tattoo artist?
Tom: I have been an artist all my life, drawing and such since I was just a little kid. When I was about 15 I started getting interested in tattooing as an art form aside from all the regular forms I was already doing, like drawing, painting and so on. Tattooing was a huge discovery for me at that age, it was a medium of art Id never really seen enough to pay attention to, but I discovered tattoo magazines at a local magazine stand and was like wow they can put art in your skin and it wont come off? I was hooked from that day on.
Tat2x: How did you learn the art of tattooing? Did you apprentice?
Tom: Well, when I wanted to learn to tattoo around age 17 I started reading any literature I could find on tattooing, (kind of had been since 15, but nobody would sell me magazines or books to take home and study articles and such) it was captivating for me and I couldn’t get enough. Once I had turned 18 and they’d sell me books and magazines on tattooing I bought up all that was available for me to learn on the subject, I read articles and interviews on all the old timers like Lyle Tuttle, and Good Time Charlie and so on. I paid close attention on what they had to say about technique and equipment, and I started hanging around in tattoo shops in Chicago to see what I could find out about learning. I asked about apprenticeships and nobody wanted to teach anyone anything, so I watched them tattoo as much as theyd let me before throwing me out saying if you’re not gonna buy something kid get the hell outa here!
I guess you could say I had an informal apprenticeship that I put myself through, and Id ordered some equipment from a magazine and put a few tattoos on friends that said they thought I was really good, so I found a small shop that was owned and run by one guy who was willing to give me a chance based on the photos of the tattoos Id done already. It wasn’t very busy but he let me do a tattoo here and there, and I delivered pizzas for extra cash for a place across the street from the shop in the evenings, until the local alderman had the building re-zoned and closed the tattoo shop down. I then took the portfolio I had built there and went looking for another place to work. I’ve been in 6 or 7 other shops since then and left for one reason or another, but I can say I’ve learned a lot working with different people, especially in the beginning. Id say that first couple years was part of my apprenticeship as well.
Tat2x: Has anyone in particular influenced your career?
Tom: Hmmm thats a good question, I have a couple artists whose work I really enjoy seeing, mainly Paul Booth, Bob Tyrrell, and Guy Aitchison just to name a few. I really enjoy seeing what just about anyone comes up with for tattoo work; the art has really evolved in the last 10 years or so.
Tat2x: What would you say is your favorite part of the job?
Tom: I’m a people person for the most part, so I really enjoy meeting new people every day and I love the randomness in the art I get to tattoo. It never gets boring, and you never lose love for it in that manner.
Tat2x: What style of tattoos do you do?
Tom: I am a well-rounded artist for the most part; I like to do anything that will look great as a tattoo! But I do love to do the evil and macabre stuff, and anything that presents a challenge to me. I also love to do portraits, and anything that looks realistic especially flowers.
Tat2x: Do you have a funny tattoo story to share?
Tom: I tattooed Your Mommas Name on someones ass once, and I had a guy pass out from holding his breath once and he peed himself while he was out. Im sure I have a ton more but cant recall any more at the moment.
Tom is currently tattooing in the Racine, Wisconsin area. If youre interested in learning more about Tom, scheduling an appointment or finding out when he might be doing a guest spot in your area, check out the links below.
About the author of “Tat2X Interview with Tattoo Artist Tom Reid”:
Nicole Bodem is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to the Tat2X blog.