Ram Lee Tattoo Art http://ramleetattoo.com Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:20:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Let’s Have Fun! http://ramleetattoo.com/2015/02/07/fun-tattoos/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2015/02/07/fun-tattoos/#comments Sat, 07 Feb 2015 21:43:54 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1393 Let’s have some fun! Tattooing has become so serious with the reality TV shows and the deeper meaning or zen of why we get tattooed. Whatever happened to just getting a fun, goofy tattoo?! Now don’t get me wrong, there are some great tattoos out there celebrating the life or death of a loved one. Even that bible verse or saying that helps you deal with life’s trials. I understand that. Honestly, I love doing these tattoos as it’s an honor to be the artist chosen to do it. But sometimes I think we get to serious and need to let loose a little bit. Personally, I feel that tattoos can be a history of our lifes path. For me I can tell you who did my tattoos, where they were done, be it a dining room table on Oak Street in Toledo or a late night session at Route 66 Tattoos in Albuquerque. I even remember what I was drinking on some of these tattoo sessions ha ha.

Smiling Carburetor | Ram Lee | Fun Tattoo

Personally I think there is a time and place to throw in a fun tattoo every once in awhile on our bodies so that we can look back in five or ten years with a smile and say “I remember that day”. Just my opinion. You might ask “what is a fun tattoo?” My answer would be whatever you choose. I’ve done Iron Maiden album covers (who doesn’t love Eddie), pop culture portraits and new school carburators with faces on them to name a few. Some of you might be reading this thinking that this isn’t for you. That’s fine. As my art teacher used to say, art’s an opinion. What I like you might not.

So after saying all of this it’s time for me to get a fun tattoo. What that tattoo will be is to be determined, but here’s the fun part – I’m going to do it myself. I’ve never tattooed myself, unlike many of my fellow artists, so now it’s time. Plus, I welcome any of your ideas of what my fun tattoo should be. Hit me up on any of my social media outlets with your ideas. I will keep you all posted as I pick a tattoo and do it and there will be pics.

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Experience is the best teacher http://ramleetattoo.com/2015/01/27/experience-best-teacher/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2015/01/27/experience-best-teacher/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:15:45 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1379 Experience is the best teacher. Ever hear that? I have more times than I can count. I’ve also learned there is a great deal of truth to this statement, especially when it comes to tattooing experience. I’ve been tattooing twenty-one years, I’ve seen my share of great tattoos and not so great tattoos. What I’ve learned is that as the popularity of tattooers and tattooing continues to grow, there are more and more people “tattooing”. I hear it all the time – so and so is a great artist and should get into tattooing. My friend bought their “tattoo gun” online and is now tattooing out of their house.

First of all, it’s a tattoo machine, not a tattoo gun. Secondly, in the state of Michigan it is a misdemeanor to tattoo anywhere but in a licensed facility (true in most states). Thirdly, being a “great” artist on paper, canvas or whatever medium, does not make you a tattooist. I say these things not to be a snobby, holier than thou tattooist, but to help you understand the time and hard work that goes into becoming a good tattoo artist.
Ram Lee - a tattoo artist with experience
For me it all began at Infinite Art Tattoo Shop in Toledo, Ohio. I started an apprenticeship there under Brian “Monk” Taylor, and it was finished by my brother Aaron, who now works with me here at Traverse City Tattoo. As a side note, when I learned to tattoo I could not buy my own equipment to start tattooing. Brian was an established shop with the National Tattoo Association and bought my equipment for me. From Toledo I moved on to Artistic Skin Designs in Phoenix, Arizona, where I got my roots. Six to seven days a week, ten to twelve hours a day, street shop tattooing at it’s best. This is where I became a tattooist. I learned about techiques such as not overworking the skin, not going too deep, and reading people and how they “sit” for their tattoos. Also, how certain skins react to tattooing, and how to work on various skin types. This is valuable information you can only get with experience.

Tommy Helm | Ram Lee | Mario Sanchez

Tommy Helm | Ram Lee | Mario Sanchez
2013 Alberta Bound Calgary Tattoo Festival

Over the years I’ve had the privilege to work at some of the best shops, including Eternal Tattoos and Route 66 Tattoos. I’ve been fortunate to work the top tattoo conventions & expos in the world, in the U.S. & Canada, and soon overseas, and have become a sponsored tattoo artist. At this time I’m sponsored by Neo Tat Tattoo Machines, Eternal Tattoo Supply and Waterloo Tattoo Storage, and I’m very thankful for their support and confidence in me. Without the experience at the beginning of my career, the great artists I’ve worked along side of, and my depth of experience, I would not be where I am today. Some of the artists I’ve worked with, and still do to this day, include Mario Sanchez, Josh Duffy, Bob Tyrrell and Marshall Bennett. These are world-renowned tattoo artists, and I’m proud to call them friends.

Ram Lee - Neo Tat Sponsored Artist - Experience Counts

Neo Tat’s Sponsored Artists

Tattooing has never been more popular. There are numerous TV shows and magazines, and over three hundred tattoo conventions a year. The talent out there with today’s tattoo artists is what motivates me to be the best I can be. I get to enjoy new experiences everyday, whether it’s in my studio here in TC or on the road. The guest spots and tattoo conventions I do are fun and so rewarding. I always learn something new from the other artist that I work with.
Ram Lee | Dakota Lee | Hell City 2013
Between my brother and I, we have over forty-four years tattoo experience under one roof at Traverse City Tattoo. And soon my son Dakota will be joining us. We would love to make you a part of the phenomenon we call “Lee Family Ink & Art”. I really and truly believe you don’t have to have a bad tattoo experience. There are some awesome tattooists out there who have put their blood, sweat and tears into being the best at this craft that they can be, myself included. If you live in Northern Michigan, or you are living elsewhere, and came across this blog and have questions, please feel free to email me at ram@ramleetattoo.com. I would love to tattoo you or at least point you in the direction of an artist who can and will give you the best tattoo experience you can have.

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From Ladybugs to Backpieces – I’m a Tattoo Artist http://ramleetattoo.com/2015/01/22/ladybugs-backpieces-im-tattoo-artist/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2015/01/22/ladybugs-backpieces-im-tattoo-artist/#comments Thu, 22 Jan 2015 16:19:11 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1352 There seems to be a misconception out there about me as an artist. What is this misconception? That I don’t do smaller, not so elaborate tattoos. That I only do sleeves, portraits, or larger pieces. I’d like to put that to rest right now.

First and foremost I am a tattoo artist. What I am about to say I say from the bottom of my heart. I appreciate every new tattoo opportunity that walks into my studio. Whether it’s a Japanese sleeve or a little bible verse on your wrist. Years ago I was given some of the best advice from my good friend Bryan, a tattooist down in Tennessee, who said to me “Ram, you’re an amazing artist. Don’t be an art fag, be a tattooist.”

Ram Lee | Traverse City Tattoo

Now before anyone gets offended by this statement (and please, don’t misconstrue the terminology Bryan used, it’s just slang, not an LGBT statement), at the time a lot of bigger name artists wouldn’t do smaller tattoos, for whatever reason – be it ego, lack of enthusiasm, I don’t know. Bryan, who had been tattooing ten years longer than I had, was giving me advice that would stay with me to this day. You see, when you walk into my shop, email, or call me for a tattoo, I am truly humbled and thankful you chose me to put a piece of art on your body for the rest of your life. The trust that goes into a decision like this is not lost on me.

The tattoo industry has changed so much in the twenty one years I have been tattooing. I personally think for the better, but there are a lot of egos out there, be it on the tv shows or at the conventions. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the hype. I’m honored to have the sponsors I have (Neo Tat Tattoo Machines, Eternal Tattoo Supply, Waterloo Tattoo Storage) and to be one of the few tattoo artists in the United States that’s good enough to be sponsored.

I’m also honored by the opportunities I have in this awesome industry. So thanks to all of you who have chosen me to tattoo you over the past twenty one years, and to those of you who I will be tattooing in the future. Know that I am always learning and bettering myself as an artist, so that I can give you the best possible tattoo experience you can have. Be it a ladybug or a backpiece.

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Christmas Eve with Santa Ram http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/12/23/christmas-eve-santa-ram/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/12/23/christmas-eve-santa-ram/#comments Tue, 23 Dec 2014 15:52:44 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1340 Ho-Ho-Ho!

 Christmas Eve Gift Certificates

“Santa Ram” is once again having his “Last Minute Gift Certificate Sale” on Christmas Eve! For those of you stuck for gift ideas for friends or family, or that missed the earlier opportunity to take advantage of the Holly Daze Extravaganza, here’s your last chance this year to get a great deal on a Ram Lee tattoo.

Ram will also be drawing the winner of the
FREE HOUR with Ram Contest!!

December 24, 2014 | NOON – 3 PM
at Traverse City Tattoo

Ram will MATCH what you spend on a Gift Certificate*
Effectively DOUBLING your session time!



*December 24, 2014 Gift Certificate Specifics

  • This opportunity is available December 24, 2014 from Noon – 3pm EST.
  • Promotion available only at Traverse City Tattoo.
  • Ram will MATCH what you spend on a Gift Certificate. Session time is based on Ram’s $150/Hour Fee. Minimum Purchase is $75 (which will get you a Gift Certificate worth $150 equal to One Hour of session time with Ram). Maximum Purchase is $750 (which will get you a Gift Certificate worth $1,500 equal to 10 Hours of session time with Ram). Any amount can be purchased between $75 & $750.
  • Tattoo sessions are with Ram Lee, and shall occur at Traverse City Tattoo. Not valid for tattoo sessions at shows, events or guest spots.
  • Gift Certificates may not be combined with other promotions (ie – Half Day & Full Day Rates).
  • Tattoo session must be scheduled to occur before Nov. 1, 2015
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Holly Daze Extravaganza http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/11/18/holly-daze-extravaganza/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/11/18/holly-daze-extravaganza/#comments Tue, 18 Nov 2014 14:12:43 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1289 With my Holly Daze Extravaganza looming around the corner this Saturday the 22nd, I thought now would be a great time to share some of my thoughts with all of you. I started my Black Friday Sale three years ago, as a thank you to my clients. I had only been open about a year, and the support I was shown from my clients and friends was just so amazing, I felt the urge to do something special for you.
Ram Lee | Holly Daze
You see, I’ve been in this industry for twenty years, and I’ve seen the good and the bad. The good being meeting and learning from some of the best artists in the world, and meeting and befriending some very amazing people. I cannot express how much I love being a tattoo artist. Honestly, it has given me so much. The bad part of the industry I’ve seen are the “rock stars”, and the artists I’ve met who forget where they come from, or more importantly the guys who forged the tattoo trail before us. Thankfully these guys or gals are few and far between.

I say all of this to give you a picture of where I’m coming from and why I did the Black Friday Sales, and now the Holly Daze Extravaganza. The bottom line is this, I’ll never forget where I come from and I’ll always appreciate you, the client. I feel it is an honor to be able to tattoo you. You trust me to put something on your body for the rest of your life. That is very humbling. You provide a living for my family by continuing to get tattooed by me, or seeking me out for ink, and for that I thank you. Because of this I work hard on my end to be the best tattooist/artist I can be. I do the conventions and traveling I do, so I can continuously learn new techniques and try different tools of the trade – to make your tattoo experience the best possible.
Northwest Michigan Toys For Tots
So now it’s time to come full circle and give back to you. I’m looking forward to the fun of this Saturday’s Holly Daze Extravaganza! We sweetened the deal by teaming up with Toys for Tots, and having the contest for a free hour of work from me. I want to thank my digital marketing guru, Mike Argyle, for bringing Toys for Tots to my attention. Mike knew I served in the Army from 1982-1988, and thought it would be pretty awesome to work with a top rated charity like Toys for Tots, which is supported by a branch of our military. He was right.

From my family and I – thank you for everything.
I’m looking forward to seeing as many of you as I can
at Traverse City Tattoo this Saturday.
God bless.

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Guest Spot with Tommy Helm http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/07/02/guest-spot-tommy-helm/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/07/02/guest-spot-tommy-helm/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 18:05:41 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1199 Tommy Helm
As one of the stars of Spike’s Ink Master & Tattoo Nightmares, and an award winning artist, Tommy Helm is an icon of the tattoo industry. His work speaks for itself, and the pieces of personal art he’s created on numerous human canvasses, shows his creativity, love of color, and attention to detail. Tommy’s passion for art began when he was a child, and he’s now amassed over 17 years of tattooing experience. There’s presently a two year waiting list to get work from him at his studio, Empire State Tattoo.

We’ve worked several conventions together, and hanging out with Tommy is always a good time, and very educational. After tossing the idea around, we thought it would be a great idea for me to do a Guest Artist spot at his studio. Tommy doesn’t let just anyone work in his studio, so to be working along side of him is quite an honor. Your work has to be technically sound, and you have to care about your client’s needs & desires – something I’ve always taken great pride in. I’m honored he asked me to be a part of his team of artists for a few days, and am looking forward to the experience.

I will be at Empire Tattoo Studio, 222 Merrick Road, Oceanside, NY from September 10-14.
Email me if you’d like to book an appointment.

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My Story http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/01/23/my-story/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2014/01/23/my-story/#comments Fri, 24 Jan 2014 03:17:55 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1178
Uncle Gary & Ram Lee

Uncle Gary & Ram Lee

I was born on the East Side of Toledo, Ohio in January of 1965 at St. Charles Hospital. Technically it was Oregon, Ohio, a suburb, but it was on the East Side of the river and that was what counted. I’m what you would call an 05’er. Being an 05’er, East Sider, or a person who lived across the river, was a badge of honor where I grew up.

I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood where dad’s worked the refineries, factories and ship yards. They worked hard and played hard. I know that my dad did. There were layoffs, union strikes and businesses that went under, and you could say that we grew up poor. Actually you don’t have to say it, we did grow up poor, but as a kid we didn’t know it. It was just life, our life.

I have great memories of my neighborhood and how I grew up. My parents loved us and the whole family was close. I have a younger sister and brother, my mom had six brothers, and my dad had four, one of which died at birth. I remember the cookouts and parties with the grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Going out to Reno Beach at my grandparents house, and the crazy volleyball games with my mom’s brothers, and the cookouts that we had. The 4th of July’s in a little town called Woodville, Ohio where my dad’s brother Gary lived. Or the times spent in Genoa, Ohio at my Uncle Ray’s house, and going to the quarry swimming. Good times.

I also remember coming home from school when dad was layed off, and seeing a bunch of Harley’s parked on the street or in the yard. My Uncle was the National President of an Outlaw MC, and my dad and him were close. They would all be sitting on the back patio there on Church St. where I grew up, having a few beers and enjoying life. Our life.

Ram's Father & Uncle Ray in their Back Yard

Ram’s Father & Uncle Ray in their Back Yard

I had and have some great friends from the neighborhood, and I’ve lost a few to violence, drugs or alcohol. When I was in my early teens I was pretty timid and some guys probably thought that I didn’t have heart. Actually, I had a dad who told me from the time I was thirteen until I was out of high school, “keep your nose clean or I’ll break it”! In 1978 I believe that was legal, and I did not want to find out. My parents were both influential our upbringing. They loved each other unconditionally, and they loved us kids the same way. I truly believe that’s what kept me out of jail or prison. That and being the first born!

Dad could be pretty hard on me, but they were lessons defined by the love he had for his son, and I thanked him for that before he died. People piss and moan about how life isn’t fair or they can’t catch a break but I say this, my parents never complained, at least not in front of us, and their actions spoke louder than words. They took care of their family the best way that they knew how, considering my dad had been on his own since he was fourteen, and my mom had been with my dad since she was seventeen. If dad got laid off, he looked for work. Mom sold Avon to help with the bills. It was life. Our life.

Ram's Mom - From his childhood

Ram’s Mom in the kitchen of his boyhood home

I wanted to share this with all of you to paint a picture of what my life was like growing up and to help ease the pain of losing my dad last May. To be where I am in life today, with an awesome wife and son, and a career that has been an incredible experience, and some great friends – I owe all of it to my parents, and God, and the tough lessons I learned from being an East Sider. I hope to carry my dad’s torch of honor and integrity, and to pass it on to my son Dakota. There’s a lot to be said about “old school values and beliefs”. Personally I think this country could use a heavy dose of them. As I now look back on the last forty-nine years of my life, there were a lot of ups and downs, but hey, that’s just life. My life.

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Ram, you do not have what it takes to be an Ink Master! http://ramleetattoo.com/2013/12/12/not-ink-master/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2013/12/12/not-ink-master/#comments Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:51:29 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1155 As many of you know last summer I was invited to cast for the TV show Ink Master. After talking with my family, we decided why not? This could be fun or it could be a pain in the butt. So began the process of casting for a TV show. I contacted my good friend Bill Latka, at Rivet Entertainment, and he was totally down with filming my casting video. Now Bill is exceptional at his craft having done commercials with Michael Jordan for Nike and Donovan McNab, just to name a few. He’s been in the TV and film industry for over twenty years and has an incredible resume, so I knew I was in great hands. In August we shot the video at my tattoo studio, and Bill did an incredible editing job that made me look like a TV star (ha ha). Man was this work cut out for him.
Ram Casting Video 3
The next step was to send in my resume and video, along with pictures of my best work, to casting at Spike TV. Now the ball was in their court, and I have to admit I was indifferent either way. I told my family from the beginning that if God wants me on Ink Master it will happen, and if not, then I can’t wait to see what He has planned for us. For me this was about marketing and business, and promoting tattooing in a positive way, and not about being a TV celebrity. Many of you may not know this, but if I were accepted to be on Ink Master, I would have to give up four to eight weeks of pay, with limited to no contact with my family while filming. If I won the $100,000 prize that would be cool, but if I didn’t then there is no money for second place. Again, as a family, we were down with this. So began the Ink Master rollercoaster ride.

Right around the first of September, it was a Friday, I was tattooing when my phone rang. I don’t usually answer the phone when tattooing, but I noticed that it was a New York phone number. Of course the excitement level went up as I answered the phone, and realized that it was casting from Spike TV. I had been called back and they wanted to do a Skype interview with me on September 10th. The back story on this day is that September 10 was the day that we were leaving for the Paradise Tattoo Gathering in Keystone Colorado. Needless to say, we left at noon on that day, as my interview was at 11am. The interview was with the casting director and lasted for about 30 minutes. The questions all revolved around drama, which I thought was a bummer, but the interview was fun. I’m not a drama guy, so I was worried I’d dropped the ball during the interview, but December reassured me that I gave them what they wanted without selling out. Cool. The casting director told me at the end of the interview that if the producer likes me as much as she did, then my chances were great. So with the interview complete, it was off to Colorado where I would finally meet Tommy Helm from Tattoo Nightmares.

Tommy Helm | Ram Lee | Mario Sanchez

Tommy Helm | Ram Lee | Mario Sanchez
2013 Alberta Bound Calgary Tattoo Festival

Tommy and I have something in common. We’re both sponsored by Neo Tat Tattoo Machines. I got to meet him in Colorado, and though he couldn’t say a lot about the logistics of the show (it’s in his contract), he was very helpful. As many of you might know he was on Ink Master Season 1 and finished second. Not to mention he’s one of the nicest and humblest people that I’ve ever met. So now the Ink Master ride is in full swing. Will they call back? When will they call back? I was told I would know something at the beginning of October, but by the time that I was in Calgary in mid October for a show, I still hadn’t heard anything. In Calgary I heard they would start filming in mid-November, and I was told I was still in it. The weekend of November 8th I was tattooing in St. Louis in the Neo Tat room and still had heard nothing. Everyone was asking, and I had no clue what was up. I have to admit, it got a little stressful with the Holidays coming and making sure that I filled my commitments to my sponsor for the conventions that they had me scheduled to be at.

So December 11th came and went, and still nothing. Of course I know now that I didn’t make the show, and I have mixed emotions about it. I went from being indifferent, to actually wanting to make it and see it through. On the good side, meeting Tommy and being invited to tattoo at his shop in Long Island was awesome and the people at Spike TV were great. It was a fun ride and I got to tattoo some cool people because of all of this. An email would have been nice to let me know one way or the other if I made it, but I understand. God obviously didn’t want me on Ink Master….at least not yet. Maybe it’s because my 20th Anniversary in tattooing starts in January, and he wanted my focus on that special occasion. So yes, I’m excited to see what He has planned for me and my family. And I can hear Dave Navarro telling me….

“Ram, you do not have what it takes to be an Ink Master!”

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Dakota’s First Tattoo http://ramleetattoo.com/2013/11/14/dakotas-first-tattoo/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2013/11/14/dakotas-first-tattoo/#comments Fri, 15 Nov 2013 02:09:54 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1138
Ram working on Dakota's First Tattoo

Dakota’s First Tattoo

Someone asked me once what it will be like to tattoo my son someday. I really wasn’t sure how to answer that, until now. On Friday, Nov. 8, here at the St. Louis Old School Tattoo Expo, I gave my son Dakota his first tattoo. Before I get into the details of his tattoo, a little history. Dakota has been a part of tattooing his whole life. From being in diapers in a baby backpack at the Motor City Tattoo Expo back in 1997 to traveling all around North America with December and I to various Tattoo Conventions. He’s had sharpie tattoos done on his body since he was five years old from some great artists such as Judy Parker, Tom Meyer and Perry Stratton. He has actually had some of his own art work put into three different tattoo museums around the world since he was ten years old. He has had a chance to hang out and draw with some of the best tattoo artists in the world, and these lessons have paid off in his own art work. Needless to say tattooing and art have always been a huge of our families life. So six months ago when he approached me with his tattoo idea how could I say no? I will admit that it struck me weirder than I thought that it would, but I knew from our conversations that he had put a lot of thought and time into this great idea.
Dakota's First Tattoo | Stencil
So onto his great idea. Those of you who know Dakota know of his love for the Rat Pack and especially Frank Sinatra. His musical taste range from MGMT, Public Enemy to Slayer but he always comes back to Frank. It’s like a default mode for him. The tattoo that he chose for his first tattoo was a portrait of a young Frank Sinatra. The picture we worked from was from the early 1940’s. Tattooing him at a tattoo convention was a no-brainer considering his own history in this awesome industry. I gave him a choice of conventions, Detroit, where it all started for him and me (Detroit was the first convention that I worked) or St. Louis. He chose St. Louis so that he wouldn’t have to wait until February of next year for the Detroit show. Ha ha.

Dakota's First Tattoo | Ready

So on Friday afternoon we began the process of tattooing my son’s virgin skin. I was a little nervous for him as I had no clue how he was going to sit for this six to seven hour process. Not to mention that he had the nervous yawns going strong before we even put on the strencil! Now I’m not going to get into the whole six and a half hour process, but I will say that he sat like a champ. He listened to Frank on his iPod and watched Wilfred and Archer on the iPad. Great distractions while I tattooed him. I have to admit that I am a proud dad for my son’s toughness and mental strength to sit through this process (those of you who have sat for four or more hours know what I mean). He sat tough when so many people came through the Neo Tat room to see this young kid getting his first tattoo. Many thought he was only thirteen or fourteen years old but all were amazed by how well he sat.
Dakota is now a part of the tattooed club. He has a new respect for the art that he is apprenticing to do. He even has a new respect from many of my friends and artists who are blessed to be a part of this awesome tattoo family. He put a smile on Lyle Tuttle’s face and as Dakota, Lyle and myself talked this weekend I couldn’t help but smile as I witnessed generations of tattooing, past and present, standing before me. It’s exciting for me to know that Dakota will be carrying the torch someday of a truly beautiful art form and lifestyle. I look forward to tattooing him again someday but more importantly I look forward to watching him grow as an artist and a man.
Dakota's First Tattoo | Frank Sinatra

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Better With Age http://ramleetattoo.com/2013/11/03/better-age/ http://ramleetattoo.com/2013/11/03/better-age/#comments Sun, 03 Nov 2013 15:39:39 +0000 http://ramlee.clearstreamconcepts.com/?p=1120 Despite popular opinions, and the effects of the aging process, some things do get better with age. Sometimes it’s because of the natural aging process, while other times it’s because of changes we make after understanding life better. Many times we accomplish things when we’re older, which we couldn’t have when we were younger and lacking experience. And sometimes it’s because we decide to be true to ourselves – we know who we are and who we want to be, and realize we’re not getting any younger! I recently had the opportunity to have all of these instances come together in a magical way – for myself and two of my clients.
Ram Lee & Arden | Grey Fox Tattoo

Ram & Arden

This past week I tattooed the oldest person I’ve ever worked with. Arden is a very cool, 74 year old gentleman who lost his wife five years ago. Although that was, and still is, very painful, he’s been making the best of life ever since. We met three years ago through my wife’s gig at a local restaurant. During that initial conversation, he learned I was a tattoo artist, and we discussed a grey fox tattoo he’d always wanted.

About three weeks ago he stopped by the studio and threw down a deposit, saying he was ready to step up and get his first tattoo. Arden’s appointment was this week, and he sat like a champ for over four hours, as I brought his personal art to life. And it was four of the best hours I’ve spent in a long time. Arden is thrilled with his tattoo, and I consider myself blessed that I got to make it happen for him.
Ram Lee Tattoo | Arden's Grey Fox
Also this past week I faced one of the biggest challenges of my tattoo career. My client, Denny, asked me to re-work a portrait of his dog, which he had done 8 years ago in Sturgis, and frankly, I wasn’t sure if I could pull it off. I think Dennis had more faith I could do it than I did! In the end, it turned out to be one of my best re-works, and one of the happiest clients I’ve ever had. Here’s what Dennis had to say in a subsequent email to me….

Denny's Tattoo - Before

Denny’s Tattoo Rework – Before

“When I found your website, I knew instantly that you were the one to do the work. Your intense desire to “make it right” is truly evident in your work. Your professional demeanor, strict emphasis for detail and a burning desire to make the customer happy was exactly what I wanted, and I got it! The rework of my portrait that at one time, I thought was very good, was transformed into a jaw-dropping masterpiece. I simply cannot thank you enough for the exceptional work you did. On our way home, my wife said I was obsessed with the portrait. My answer—“you ain’t lyin”! I am beyond happy for what you did for me. Now, you’ve caused me to come back for another tattoo. Smile, smile! I knew that it was a very difficult situation that I put you in, but you pulled it off. I am forever thankful.

Take care and like I said, “I will pass the word of your excellent work on to others in the northern part of Michigan and where ever I go.”


NOTE: So much skin, so little time!”

What does all this have to do with age? Everything. Age played a huge factor in Denny’s re-work, having taken its toll on the image. My years of experience and acquired knowledge played a huge role in how it turned out. I was confident I could make it look better, but it was experience that guided my hand. I’m not patting myself on the back, I’m just thankful for all I’ve learned over the years from so many, and from all the hard work I’ve put in. It brought great joy to another person, and that’s why we do what we do in life.

Denny's Tattoo Rework - After

Denny’s Tattoo Rework – After

Arden’s tattoo couldn’t have come at a better time – for him or myself. My father would have been 70 years old this week. He always lived life to its fullest, and he taught me so much by which I live my life. Among the many lessons, he taught me to be true to myself and to stay true to my principles. We all get hurt in life, and face moments we’re not sure we can get through, or how we’ll move on afterward. Yet if we remain true to ourselves, and give thanks for the good times and the great memories, we end up with a life we realize has been filled with happy moments, achieved goals, wonderful hallmarks and great achievements. Arden knew what he wanted, and I got to make it happen, and in doing so I heard about some of his cherished memories, shared some laughs, and achieved something I never expected. Things do get better with age, and we’re lucky to live every day we have.

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