Sean Herman: Tattoo Collectors (Part I)

By Sean Herman
This past Hell City I was fortunate to tattoo three different collectors. Collectors are a whole different breed of client getting tattooed. They are passionately pursuing specific tattooers, and getting pieces to signify the work from that tattooer, no matter what the subject matter of the piece is. That always makes it an honor to tattoo a collector. During the weekend I had some people who were close to me tell me, “Hey, you keep going on about how awesome it is that they love tattooing, how about you write a blog about the collectors, like the one’s you write about tattooers.” She was right, why didn’t I think of that. Genius. After Hell City, I decided to get a few of them together to tell us their stories, I hope you enjoy… 

I first met Jason Taylor at a party at Hula Moon. My close friend and owner of Hula Moon, Famous Gabe, (of whom I did a blog about last year) throws some pretty epic parties there, the kind you spend the next year talking about, kinda like the graduation party from Say Anything. From the first time I met Jason, I knew I liked him, and then the more we talked, I realized why. Jason lives in Gulf Breeze, Florida and he is one of the only collectors I know of in that area. So, needless to say, he travels to get tattooed, and he is passionate about it.

I was excited to see the work he had when I met him. He had pieces from Gunnar, Jesse Smith, Scott Irwin and many other tattooers that I really respected and loved. That being said, I was honored when Jason asked me to do a piece for him, and even more honored when that piece turned into five or so pieces. During the time that I tattooed Jason, we really got to know each other and learn the different struggles and life experiences we have dealt with. Together, we have both made the effort to take steps to living more positive lives, and not let the negatives take hold. PMA.

I also learned how much Jason respected tattooing. Whenever anything about tattooing comes up, he has a glimmer in his eye crossed with a reverence to not overstep boundaries about a practice that is thousands of years before us. I think many tattooers could learn a thing or two from the amount of respect this man has for the trade. Here is Jason’s story about what got him to fall in love with tattooing, and becoming a collector…

Jason Taylor:

My first interests in tattoos and being tattooed stemmed from my grandfather. He had the classic crawling black panthers on both biceps. I was into art as far back as I can remember and it fascinated me that you could have it on you permanently. At probably 13 I tried to give my self a tattoo with a needle wrapped in thread and some India ink I acquired from art class. I still have a small black blob on my thigh from it. Initially it was a cross. From there I was tattooed by a biker shortly after my 18th birthday, and then some lady in Texas while I was in the Air Force less than a year later. Both of these tattoos were nothing to be proud of and nothing like the images in the tattoo magazines that I bought whenever I could find them. One day a friend of mine came over and had just come from the local tattoo shop with a nice solid tattoo. That’s when I think realized that you get what you pay for and that’s also when I started getting tattooed fairly regularly. Gunnar was the first person I started paying attention to regularly in the magazines and I remember telling my buddies that I wanted to get tattooed by him. I think I was 19, maybe 20.

It took me 10 years to make it happen but it happened. I also pursued getting tattooed by Will Lollie after seeing his work in a magazine. He was working at Hula Moon in my home town at the time and I was going to be back home on vacation. I remember him being really nice, I’m pretty sure he came in on his day off to tattoo me. It meant a lot to me and it was such a positive experience that from that point forward I decided to just wait it out and get tattooed by the people who I admired in the magazines.

I understand people getting comfortable with one artist and just going back to that person over and over because they found a connection with that individual, but I feel like they are selling themselves short. Collecting tattoos has changed my life. I don’t know if it is just dumb luck or what, but I have met some of the best humans I know by hopping from artist to artist. I think completely differently thanks to the conversations I have had with Scott Irwin, Sean Herman, and Adam Hathorn. I’ve been tattooed multiple times by some people when the initial intention was to just get one piece and move to the next guy, because I liked them as a person, and wanted to hangout with them again. Not to mention I get to look at art everyday that makes me smile from some of the best in the business. My life is richer having met the people I have getting tattooed. There are so many humble down to earth amazing artists tattooing today that I’m sure my list will never end.

On the other hand there are more people in the business with rock star egos than there used to be, and I personally would rather support one of the many other talented people who do it for the love [of tattooing] and not to fuel their ego. Most of the people I have been tattooed by I hadn’t met prior to getting work from them, and they have all been awesome, even the biker that did my first one was a pretty rad guy. He had fangs and tried to talk me into a Viking skull…[divider]

(Sean Herman is a tattooer and contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine.)

Sean Herman works at The Bell Rose in Daphne, Alabama. 

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