THE DEDICATED MAN
by William Thidemann
Photos courtesy of Dan Martin and Scorpion Studios
From the July 2007 issue of PRICK Magazine.
So who is Dan Martin? He has a name that
rings a familiar tune to people who know tattoos.
He has been a longstanding presence at
Scorpion Studios in Houston, Tex. as both artist and
owner. He also travels to conventions while maintaining
his position at home as a father. Taking all of
this into consideration, it is amazing that he has any
time at all for interviews or anything else for that
matter. I've known Dan for many years now, and it
is evident what kind of a dedicated artist he is. So,
without further ado, here he is:
Thidemann: So, how long have you been tattooing?
Martin: It'll be thirteen years coming up in July.
Have you been in Houston the whole time or did you move
around? Where did you get your start?
I got my start here in Houston, and Scorpion Studios is the third shop that I've been
employed by. I've been here nine years, and before I bought the shop I had only been
tattooing for four years.
Did you travel around? Did you get an apprenticeship? How did you
get into it?
Matt, the owner of Scorpion at the time, wasn't the original owner. Richard Stell started
Scorpion Studios and his apprentice was Matt Wojciechowski. Matt was going to take
me on as an apprentice. At the same time, he also took on another apprentice, and I
guess he was just waiting to see who would pan out.The other kid was pretty much a
trust fund baby and didn't really have a job or anything. He would spend every waking
moment up there and I had to make ends meet by working at Whole Foods. After a
while he let me go, because I had a little conflict with one of his artists. I basically went
down the street and started another apprenticeship. This guy showed me the basic
basics, you know, how to put the needle in the tube kind of thing. It was very, very self-taught.
All the basics, the rudimentary stuff?
Yeah, he was using plastic tubes and stuff like that. All I had for making needles was a
piece of pipe with holes drilled into it. When you ran out of threes you would start
using fives even if you needed a tight line, you know, stuff like that. Ultimately, that's how
I got fired. I sent somebody somewhere else because I didn't have anything to work
with.They wanted this little, five-line eagle and all I had was an eight round.There was
no way I could do it.
How did you end up back at Scorpion Studios?
Following my second apprenticeship, I worked at Fine Line Tattoo for a year and then
Matt looked me up again and said, "Hey, are you still tattooing? I've seen your stuff
around and it looks good. Come back and work for me." By that point I had gotten my
foot in the door.
And then Matt sold the shop to you after a couple years?
Yeah, it was really unexpected. He just called me out of the blue one day and said,
"Wanna buy the shop?" He wasn't coming around; he was missing appointments and
had some personal business to tend to.
Did you have any formal art training?
Yeah, I came to Houston to go to the Art Institute. I wanted to be an illustrator and
they said, "You don't draw well enough. You should go into computers.” So I did
graphic design for six years, took a couple community college art classes, and still
graduated from the Art Institute with a degree in graphic design.
Who are some of your influences?
In the past, I was really influenced by Marcus Pacheco. I liked the way he worked with
figures; he's such an innovator. I've got a half sleeve by him and I'm very proud to look
at it. I'm still blown away by his stuff. Because of him I went more towards the new school
type stuff. Now, I'm kind of into Japanese a little bit. I’m getting away from multiple light
sources and learning how to flatten stuff out. I've always been a big fan of Timothy Hoyer
You're a family man now. How does that relate to being a tattoo artist?
I turned 30, bought a shop, and had a baby all in the same year. Everything was basically
okay. My family fuels my desire to be good at what I do. The more I can push myself, the
more it is going to affect them positively in the long run. Without them, I don't think I
would have been nearly as motivated. I would have been out partying and doing a bunch
of that stuff.When you have a family, you tell yourself,
"Oh, the kids are in bed. What am I going to do now?"
I'm going to draw and try to get better.
What are your plans for the future?
Staying in Houston for a while?
Yeah. I've got family here, extended as well as immediate.
Right now I'm working with the most talented
people I've ever worked with and I've got a really good
crew; they all inspire me so much. It's like they light a
fire under my ass. I see stuff they're doing daily and I
think, "Oh man, I better get back to the drawing table."
As long as that's going on, I have no desire to go anywhere
else. Maybe someday I'd like to have another
shop, but that might be too much homework and it
would be more like big business and that's not really
what I want. I like everything being somewhat small; it
affords me the ability to focus on the art, which is
what it's really all about for me.
Do you want to throw down some final
I just try to keep my nose to the grindstone. It's my
For more information go to www.scorpionstudiostattoo.com
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