Solid Tattoos from a solid dude.
by Mark Longenecker
Photos courtesy of Troy Lane
From the August 2003 issue of Prick Magazine.

Tattoos by Troy Lane.

When looking over a tattoo to inspect its quality, many aspects are taken into to consideration. There's the five second rule: If you can't tell what it is within the first five seconds of looking at it, then it's crap. There's also the placement and flow of the tattoo - the design should work with the shape of the body part it's on. Color and contrast of the piece is important too. Using a formula that will make the tattoo pop instead of looking like a muddy mess on the skin. Troy Lane has got all those aspects of tattooing down. What really sets him apart from the crowd, though, is his technical skills. He is the tattoo artist that many tattoo artists choose to get ink from. Troy is not much into the bells and whistles, he just simply does clean outlines and packs the tattoo super solid with color. My friends and I have even coined a term after Troy - is your tattoo "Troy Lane Solid?"

Troy grew up in Springfield, Oregon, and lived there until he was about 14. He had always had an interest in tattoos and got thrown out of a few tattoo shops as a kid. But when he got older and went off to the army for a few years, he found himself hanging around in tattoo shops more and more. He eventually scored himself a traditional apprenticeship from Robbi West at Skin Fantasies in North Carolina. After getting all the basics down, he got a job offer from Lou Sciberras of the Miami famed Tattoos by Lou. There, Troy, Lou and old school legend Mikey Harpool ran the show for a year and a half until hurricane Andrew blew the shop away.

Troy told me of the "good ole' days" when they were the only game in town. Back then, there was just Tattoos by Lou in Miami and Tatts Taylor's Tattooing in Ft. Lauderdale. There were really no other shops in South Florida. With the supply and demand as they were, the money was flowing from Troy's hands into the strippers' hands every night. If he was smart, Troy says, he might have saved some of it, but I say more power to him.

Troy worked at Lou's South Beach location for a while, but soon got sick off tattooing sunburned tourists and answering annoying questions. He moved to the Tattoos by Lou Kendall location and worked there until 1996. He eventually got the itch to travel and Lou hooked him up with a gig in Australia working at Illustrated Man Tattoo. After a few months there, Troy's good friend Ken Cameron, of South Beach Tattoo Company, got him a spot at Paul Jefferies Smiling Buddha Tattoo in Canada. After working in temperatures as low as 40 below, Troy soon got homesick. He called up Lou and asked him if he would mind if he opened his own shop in Miami.

Lou was more than happy to have Troy back in town and even loaned him some money to help him get a shop open. Lou passed away and now his daughter Michelle and her husband Ken Cameron run Lou's shops. Troy considers Ken and Michelle family and Troy has tattooed many of their employees. Troy has been tattooing at his own shop - AAA Tattoos - for about six years now in Kendal, Fla. He is currently looking to open a bigger shop in a busier location in Miami. For a while now, Troy has been working a one man show with long hours and he has had his fill. He is ready to work a more relaxed schedule of 4 days a week with other artists running his shop for him.

Troy's style of tattooing is mainly Japanese themes, although, the day I met with him, he was doing some Egon Schiele painterly type stuff on the drummer for Dashboard Confessional - it looked awesome! I asked him if he had a big Japanese reference and book collection like our mutual tattoo artist friend Joel Long. Troy said he had a good book collection, but nothing like Joel's: "Joel eats, lives and breaths Japanese tattoos until he goes to sleep at night, then he most likely dreams about them." Troy has a different view. When he is off of work, he would rather not think about tattooing just to keep his sanity.

Troy credits his solid tattoo skills to the time he spent with tattoo legend and machine master Paul Rogers. He also learned a lot from his favorite solid tattooers - Eric and Deborah Inksmith. Troy has remained a low key guy in the tattoo scene, he is not into working conventions. If he goes to one, it's to socialize with old friends, not to tattoo. He rarely even takes pictures of the tattoos he does. He is not much into self-promotion, but then again his reputation alone for solid tattoos keeps him busy. In his free time, Troy enjoys Jujitsu, skydiving and underwater cave diving to keep himself active. If anyone ever writes a book on the history of Florida Tattooing, Troy Lane deserves his own chapter.

For more information about Mark Longenecker, visit

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