Red’s tattoo work includes a little bit of everything, but mostly “large art pieces, colorful fun stuff, and cover-up/repair work.” His tattooing style is painterly, with a whimsical or horrific edge. He treats the machine like a paint brush, bringing artwork to life through movement, shadowing, and texture.
Red is known for his ability to connect with all his clients on a very personal level.
He decided to become a tattoo artist because of his own experiences as a tattoo customer. “I wanted to help others record the visual diary of their lives, hopes, and dreams, the way I had been helped,” he says.
His proudest moment as a tattoo artist was being asked to work on the people who trained him. But there’s always a swell of pride that washes over him when he finishes a large or complex tattoo. “I LIVE for that boost of ego that comes from a job well done,” he says.
Red served a two-year tattoo apprenticeship at the Z Spot and has associate’s degrees in both fine arts and special effects. He is bloodborne-pathogen certified.
His inspiration for his tattoo work is mostly classical artists he studied in school, such as Van Gogh and Keith Herring, as well as some comic artists who have been important to him, such as Jhonen Vasquez (Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Invader Zim) and Mike Mignola (Hellboy).
He grew up in the “huge small town” of Frederick, Maryland, and spent as much time as possible in the woods.
Red likes the variety of the Pittsburgh body art community. “There’s always something new to do because there are always new styles coming together in the ’Burgh,” he says.
When Red is not at work, he’s mostly a homebody, spending his time cooking, watching old cartoons, and laughing his “fool head off.” But sometimes, when the weather’s right, you can find him taking his dog on long hikes in the woods or going fishing. From time to time, he loses track of the world in his painting studio; he loves to splatter his emotions on the canvas.
Alter Ego Body Art Studio
Address: 1443 Potomac Ave Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Hours: Monday – Saturday, noon – 8 p.m.