Give it your all.

As a former member of the U.S. Air Force and a seasoned artist, he’s always put his heart and soul into the task in front of him. And it’s always paid off.

I had the opportunity to draw a lot while I was in the Air Force. We had a lot of free time during deployments, so I’d spend the day sketching everything I could see. 

That’s when he met a tattoo artist who was also in Afghanistan with him at the time.

He was a pretty good artist as well and encouraged me to get into tattoo art. When we got home from deployment, he was the one that pushed me toward an official apprenticeship.

Once Ron started the apprenticeship, things really started to take off.

It was a whole-shop apprenticeship, so I learned a lot. I was progressing more in tattooing than anything else. It just felt like a natural fit.

He’d done 10 years in the military by that point and was ready to move onto the next part of his journey. And the tattoo world was ready for him.

My apprenticeship was at a shop called Ink Addiction. I honestly didn’t expect all the tattoo artists there to work with me and help me out so much. It was a challenge, for sure, but they helped me get as much out of the experience as possible. 

Ron put his head down and put in the hours.

It was hard to keep my head in the game when I still had one foot in the door with the military, but I made it work and made the transition.

His hard work paid off. He landed his dream gig in Atlanta working for Dino Cook at Psycho Tattoos.

There was one tattoo artist there named Elliott who encouraged me to perfect Traditional-style tattoos. If you learn Traditional, you can do anything you want. It’s the foundation.

Ron followed the shop’s formula for good Traditional ink: 30% black, 30% color, 40% skin tone.

And don’t let your black touch black. What I love about Traditional is that you have to be creative with it. It’s not still life, where you’re just drawing what’s in front of you. You have to pull ideas out of your head, evolve it into your own masterpiece.

To this day, his clients love his unique spin on the format. 

There was this time about four to five years after my apprenticeship when I tattooed this older lady who didn’t speak English. I think she was Russian. She had a hard time communicating what she wanted. She’d bring in these bad English translations, which we could never decipher until, one day, she brought in a simple design: a heart with a crown on top of it.

It was an emblem recognizable in her home country.

I think it was maybe a symbol on Baltic money or something like that. She had been so hard to work with and constantly frustrated with me until then. But when I finished that tattoo, she cried and hugged me. I learned the tattoo was for her loved one who had passed in the war. It was a really special moment for the both of us.

She was so happy with her tattoo, she kept in touch with Ron for years.

I couldn’t believe she remembered me for so long. She’s probably 80 years old now. Tattooing is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I know I’ll never perfect it, but you just have to keep your head in the game and do the best you can so your clients walk away happy.

Now that he’s working at Hart & Huntington in Las Vegas, he gets to make that happen on a daily basis.

I love working at Hart & Huntington. It’s a great shop to be at. I remember seeing it on Inked and wondering whether I’d be able to get a job there one day. 

When he first moved to Vegas, he applied…and got turned down.

It just wasn’t meant to be at the time, but then I got hired here later on once I had the chance to hone my skills some more.

And he hasn’t looked back since. 

I feel challenged and inspired here, even to this day now that I’ve been here for so many years. Tattooing in general has opened a bunch of doors for me. When I first started, I could barely paint. Now I’ve learned to do all kinds of different mediums.

That’s the legacy he wishes to continue from here on out.

If I were to mentor an aspiring tattoo artist, I’d hope they’d be better than me when all is said and done. I just want to leave a good apprentice in my spot when I retire, someone who works hard to constantly evolve their art.  

That’s what it’s all about.