Mark McKinnon

Reno Tattoo Artist / President

What got you interested in tattooing:

From the time I can recall real thought, I was an artist, I painted I sculpted… any and all forms of art inspired me. I used to tattoo with home made machines (guns) in High School. I used to make money for the band I was in. It was not clean nor was it safe at all (not my proudest moments) I truly enjoyed the entire concept of what was happening though and being able to give people the art they wanted, even though it was dirty dirty. I left that behind and pursued my artistic nature by going to college in Seattle and studying many mediums. Tattoos have always intrigued me and yet I did not get any myself because I wanted something specific that I wasn’t seeing in the magazines I used to get. I’m pretty particular sometimes. Fast forward many years. Tattooing took a turn that got my attention. Artists producing pieces that looked like paintings on skin. I wanted to learn how these people were doing this. I spent a lot of money on conferences, videos, and then finally a real tattooer teaching me the proper way to work with this medium. I love the art of tattooing, it’s an art form like no other. Exceeding people’s expectations and seeing their faces when they look at their completed piece, there’s nothing like that sense of satisfaction. I will always strive to be better, that’s just me. I’ll never feel as if I’ve accomplished “omnipresent, super-galactic oneness” in this art form. Probably because it’s not about me. I have to be better for my clients. They wear my art and I never want anyone to be embarrassed to walk down the street with their tattoo showing. I want them to proud of themselves for the decision they made and proud of the work they allowed me to put on them.

What are your thoughts on tattoos:

They are permanent… like for reals permanent. I would rather you walk out not spending a dime than make a decision you regret later. Many people like tattoos but don’t know what they want, so an artist designs something for them and they get it only to regret it later because it had no real meaning to them personally. I love designing pieces for people who want to tell a story with their tattoos, or want to set a permanent love on their skin because of the passions they have in their lives. I love the stories with each tattoo. Every tattoo has a unique story behind it, sometimes simple and sometimes very heart felt and complex… I love each and every one of the meanings behind my clients pieces. I think also, that tattoos and tattooing in general have taken a huge turn in society. Tattooing has become a legitimate contributor to the economy and to the business world. I love the transition that is happening to this culture. High level professionals are wearing beautiful pieces of work underneath an exterior of their professional lives. That concept alone is poetic on it’s own and people are expressing themselves because they feel comfortable with the acceptance of tattoos in their lives. Tattoo reality shows have brought tattooing into the light of a mainstream culture, although the concept of time-limited “tattoo-races” is a bit undesirable, these shows have brought a whole new level of discerning clientele into the world. Many now know what good tattoos look like and hyper aware of what they want. I really enjoy that.

What style/genre tattoo is your favorite:

I have a deep level of respect for every single style of tattoos. There is precision in the traditional work that tattooers have honed with years and years of dedicated passion. Even though my preferred style is realism and painterly pieces, I admire the work that goes into every genre. I can also say that with the evolution happening in tattooing, I love the expression many tattooers are taking with their work. Watercolor pieces, pop art and many other very unique styles that give customers a variety of ways to express themselves and for the tattooer to produce the style they have mastered.

Who or what influences your art style:

I love oil painting. when I produce a tattoo, I can see the style of my paintings come through on skin. There are so many Fine Artists and Tattoo Artists that I admire and follow and yet I want to be careful that I don’t admire and follow them so much that my art begins to take a turn to copying or duplicating their style.

Personal Thoughts:

I like to do things differently from the norm, I always have and I don’t see that changing. My wife and My Son are the world. I want to be an inspiration to them, as they are to me.