Be sure to check out Robert’s updated portfolio by clicking here.


As the holiday season falls into full swing, it’s time to reflect on friends and family and all that we’re thankful for. It’s a time when the smell of burning wood falls hand in hand with Christmas lights, and in just a few weeks most all of us will find ourselves lost with the stress of  last minute shopping, finding the perfect presents and dealing with difficult relatives.

Yet as we get lost in the rituals of the Holiday Season, let’s not forget to give back. For so many families, the Holiday Season isn’t so bright and cheerful, which is why SDT has teamed up with HELP of Southern Nevada. This beautiful and charitable organization helps better serve the poor, homeless and those in crisis – and all of your help is needed.

Skin Design Tattoos will be hosting a food and toy drive up until Dec 18th, so please stop by to drop off canned goods and (or) toys. Every contribution helps bring a smile to someones face while offering hope and light this holiday season. If you’d like to donate directly to HELP please click here.








ABOUT HELP of Southern Nevada:

HELP was started by the Junior League of Las Vegas and was incorporated in 1970. It is a 501 (c) (3) organization that has grown exponentially since the inception, from an organization that served fewer than three hundred people a year, to one that will serve over 100,000 unduplicated people in a fiscal year.

HELP of Southern Nevada responds to the changing needs of our growing community. We strategically expand our programs and refine our service delivery systems to better serve the poor, the homeless and those in crisis who come to us as a place of last resort. We pride ourselves on being 100% local and 100% accountable and engaging other organizations through collaboration to achieve maximum impact with the services we provide and the clients we serve.


Currently, the Guinness Book of World’s Records for having the “most tattoos of the same cartoon character tattooed on the body” is held by a gentleman by the name of Lee Weir. While he has a total of 41 tattoos, Weir may currently hold that record, but Michael Baxter from Melbourne is looking to strip him of his title and he’s in it to win it. In just under a year, Michael has completed what you see here and he’s already filed all the necessary paper work to capture Mr. Weir’s title. Even though all of Mr. Baxter’s tattoos are not of Homer Simpson, they are all from the same television show (203 characters in all) so it makes him eligible for entry.


 At 52 years old, Mr. Baxter is a prison guard in Bacchus Marsch near Melbourne and says that, “his tattoos have inspired and entertained people of all ages.” With 41 Homer tattoos on his left arm alone, the Simpsons fan said, “I’m a huge fan of the show. I love the tattoo, and I know lots of other people, including my grandchildren, do too.”



So I ran across a black and grey portrait that was done by Robert Pho, and in turn I ended up throwing on a track by Miles Davis – a track which subsequently influenced this post. With the volume up and the coffee brewing, the tracks smooth and rhythmic melody brought me to a peaceful place – while the songs name, “Freddie  Freeloader”, made me bust a smirk because of all the f*cked up memories and people it can relate to. (read on and you’ll find out why)

As artists, we all have our opinions and criticisms. Whether it be about technique, subject matter, tools of the trade, or simply art, the opinions we form can be relevant, ignorant, arrogant and sometimes downright argumentative. But for the most part, our opinions help ignite creativity and bring us closer together. On the other hand, the one thing I’m sure we can all agree on is the fact we all started in this industry in the same place: The very bottom.

Regardless if you tattoo, paint, draw or even write, we spend countless amounts of hours honing our craft, mastering our techniques and building our books/ portfolios. In the beginning, the encouragement we receive from friends comes deep and plenty, but ask someone to let you take a pass at their skin and the confidence and hoorah soon diminishes. But as time progresses -as does your skill – you soon create a following, and a book of business. It’s a natural progression that happens as a result of experience, confidence and improved techniques and in short,  it’s a part of surviving.  But along with that exponential growth comes an increase in what you can charge for the work  you do.


Freddie Freeloader by Miles Davis.

Soon after you raise your rates, comes a somewhat awkward moment where you have to announce the price hike. It’s at that moment that you realize that most old clients along with new clients don’t mind at all. Sure you hook up some of the regulars at discounted rates (as a way of thanking them for their loyalty), but what about the ones that still want your rates from when you were first practicing 15 years ago? Or how about the ones that want it for free? You know what I’m talking about! C’mon now….and if you don’t have a clue about what I’m talking about then soon enough you will. These are those folks that are classified as “Freddie Freeloaders” or “Captain Mooch.”


If you still don’t know what I’m talking about then listen carefully for anyone that uses typical key phrases such as….


“C’mon homie. Hook it up. I’ve been down since day one!”

“You got a cancellation? Yo..hit up my arm really quick with a small piece!”

and once they find out about your new rates, you’ll get the proverbial….

Oh! It’s like that now?! Glad I’m still getting  the homie hookup right?”

“I know I’m not paying that. We boys. Right?”


At first you may entertain a few of the offers but soon enough they’ll pester you to a point where you can’t help but laugh – or kick them out of the shop. So are we here to tell you how to solve this problem? Absolutely not, it’s a problem that we will all encounter soon enough and a dilemma that’s handled differently by each of us. In the meantime, get your hours in, your skill set up and know your worth.

If you’ve figured out the perfect way to handle a Freddie Freeloader be sure to leave a comment.


Side notes:

So how did this track get its name? There are two sources which cite that the song was named after a friend of Davis. The friends name was Freddie, and he was known for trying to see the music Davis and others played without paying. The sources came from a documentary, Kind of Blue: Made in Heaven, and an anecdote from the jazz pianist Monty Alexander. The name may have also been inspired by Red Skelton’s most famous character, “Freddie the Freeloader” the hobo clown.





Who’s the best tattoo artist? Who has the best tattoo parlor in town? Those are commonly asked questions when getting your first tattoo, and valid ones at that. But if one really wants to figure out who the best tattoo artist in the world is? Or who owns the best tattoo shop in their city? Then the answer is….the one that best suits your budget and artistic preference.

All throughout the world there are thousands of tattoo shops and parlors, but it’s up to you to browse their portfolios. But even before beginning that search here’s a couple of questions you should keep in mind:


1. Are you looking for a color tattoo, or a black and grey tattoo?

Tattoos may be the same in principle but not in application. Most artists may be able to do both color and black and grey tattoos but they’ll be better in one over another.

2. Are you looking to get a portrait, a picture of a pet, hand lettering or a script done? 

There’s a difference. Just because someone is good at portraits doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be good at script, and vice versa. All artists have a specialty so find out what there’s specialty is.

3. Are you willing to travel? Do you want the tattoo immediately?

If you’re willing to travel then your options are plenty, but if you’re staying local then look for the best one that fits your style and budget.


These are some of the questions you need to figure out before you do your search, and the answers vary. Most of the top tattoo artists in the world have a waiting list which can vary from months all the way up to a year. In terms of budget, the ranges vary depending on the size of the tattoo. In short, the best thing you can do is research, ask around, and visit the shops and artists in person. Keep in mind that some tattoo artists are quite expensive, but in the end you may be better off saving for a little longer to get work that you can be proud of for the rest of your life. Sometimes you don’t realize it, but a tattoo is life-long commitment which can bring you sheer joy or pure embarrassment.


Would you be happy to honor a family member with any of these portrait tattoos? (Photos found on the web)

Also be sure to check out each of the artists styles, look at their shading as well as their lines. Every artist has their own unique signature style, so go with the one that best suits what you’re looking. Personality is also a key in choosing the right artist. Remember, a tattoo is not an event – it’s an experience to be enjoyed – and the beginning of a relationship with someone that you’ll be sitting with for quite some time, so you better pick someone you get along with.


Here’s another tip: Be sure to check your spelling and grammar. You have the internet, so there is no excuse for misspelled tattoos. Bottom line…you have a smart phone, use it. (photos found online)


Cleanliness: Make sure you go to a shop that practices the correct sterilization methods. The last thing you want is an infection. (Photos found online)

For the most part, it’s safe to say that good work isn’t cheap, and cheap work isn’t good. Also, when visiting a shop be sure to look into the cleanliness of their facility. A clean working environment is essential to a good tattoo because the last thing you want is an infection from non-sterilized equipment or dirty surroundings.

Good luck on your hunt and remember that the best tattoo artist is ultimately the one you decide to choose!


The inspiration behind this black and grey tattoo of Jesus, is the Pietà – an internationally heralded Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo.  Originally commissioned for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilheres, this sculpture was built as  a funeral monument, and the piece itself is a body of art depicting Jesus on the lap of Virgin Mary after he was crucified.


The Pietà (1498–1499) is a world-famous work art housed in St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City.

It’s an image to be contemplated, and the realism and weight of this statuary piece makes it one of the most adorned works of Michelangelo. Since its introduction, it has been the subject of many reincarnations by artists from past to present and a powerful piece which relates to death, sacrifice and human emotion. From the complexities of light vs shadow, and the finesse work used to sculpt the marble, the Pietà an art piece which holds weight both historically and artistically.


Who doesn’t love a good George Washington tattoo? Not only was good ol’ Mr. Washington, the very first President of the United States, but he also became the poster boy for trust, unity and wealth. Lately he’s also become the new face and icon of #MCM (Man Crush Monday)  for men and women all over the world and why not? Here’s a tattoo that our resident artist Fernie Andrade busted out last week.

It’s interesting to note that the face we’ve connected to wealth is also the face of the former President who also had his own financial woes. Here’s some little know facts about George Washington:

– George Washington had to borrow money to relocate and attend his own inauguration.

– George Washington never went to college.

– Mr. Washington had to borrow money more than once during his Presidency as most of his money was tied up in land holdings.


Tattoos can be a painful process, but isn’t that an important part of the process?

While I don’t know of any tattoo artists or collectors that are totally opposed to using numbing (or desensitizing) creams, I do know plenty that will frown upon it. Bring up the topic to any purist or old timer and they’ll tell you tales about the good ol days and how numbing creams are for sissies. Yet even better than the stories, are the facial expressions you’ll get – a look so degrading, that’s its actually more mentally tormenting than the pain of the tattoo itself.


You see, the pain you process during a tattoo is all about one thing: You. It’s a test to ones self about limitations, control, and about pushing that magical threshold. A tattoo in certain areas is like a rite of passage and a ranking system of just how far  you’re willing to go. Ever meet a person with a tattoo in the arm pit? On the ribs? In the crotch area? Oh yeah…they’ll be the first to tell you.

Remember, pain is an output of the mind, not an input of the body. When needles penetrate your skin, it reaches nerve endings which then send signals to the brain. At that point the signals sit in idle up until the brain interprets the information and decides to send you an indicator – that indicator being a signal we process as pain. So in the end, much of what you experience is a result of your focus.

A small percentage of people feel nothing but sheer pain, and that’s probably because that’s all they concentrate on. For the majority, tattoos become a mostly euphoric experience, and for others it’s therapeutic, and that’s the reason they become addicting. As mentioned earlier, pain is a part of the process, and the end result is a great piece which you can truly appreciate.

You can almost say tattoos mimic love. Much like tattoos, love is a painful process that makes you appreciate what you have. But unlike love, tattoos are only painful and high maintenance in the beginning and after that it’s a blissful relationship with a few touch ups. Of course, if you ever want to end the relationship, you can simply have it removed – and even at that, getting rid of it is much cheaper than getting rid of a husband or wife.

In the end, the decision to use a numbing cream is completely yours. Some like it easy, some like it rough, but we’re firm believers that a little pain goes a long way. Remember a tattoo isn’t only a piece of art, it’s an episode of life to be experienced and endured, and I think Jack Rudy summed it up best when he said, “It’s a good thing they [tattoos] hurt, otherwise every pussy in the world would have one.”

A truly epic statement for those who in the know.


by SDT Contributor Simon K. 
– As a frequent lifestyle contributor for Los Angeles Times and home publications such as Dwell and LUXE. Simon is a tattoo loving, architecture obsessed journalist with a knack for doing stories that are different. Actually, different is way of life for Simon. He lives in one of the most peculiar homes in the Valley along with a two legged dog that’s always riding dirty. Did we mention that he also drives an Excalibur, but still prefers to walk?


When a customer walks in to get a “small” tattoo are you the artist that rolls his eyes? Or the artist that treats the customer with the same respect as if he were a collector?

It’s a question I pose because it’s a very realistic situation that will happen to all of us at some point in time. Some of us will treat that customer with nothing but respect, while others may be quick to have them ushered out by means of a cold shouldered attitude and/ or disinterest. So what’s my point? My point is you never know who you’re dealing with unless you take the time to get to know them. Take for instance, this guy who got the script “Angie” tattooed on his finger.



Oakley sponsored Bubba Watson – A small tattoo on someone that’s a big deal.


The guy who got this finger band tattoo ended up being Bubba Watson, a 6′ 3″ professional golf player that has a scoring average of 68.526. So what does that mean for those of us who don’t play golf? It means he’s ranked 4th in the Official World Golf ranking scale. So yeah, he’s kind of a big deal.

During a recent interview with NBC’s Golf Channel, Bubba was asked why he got the tattoo and he explained that he doesn’t like the feeling of wearing a wedding band while playing, so he got a tattoo of his wife’s name just to show her that he cares. In the same interview, he was also quoted as saying,  “It was a $60 anniversary present” and “They had no idea who I was”.

Now let’s not get it twisted, the whole purpose of writing this piece isn’t to pass accusations, it was written simply to remind us all that we never know who we’re going to deal with. For all we know, maybe the artist knew exactly who Bubba Watson was (and treated him nice), but didn’t give a crows ass – at which point I’d think it was pretty funny. Needless to say, it could have been a good opportunity for that artist (or that shop) to throw up a pretty sensational IG post that would’ve given them tons of shameless plugs, and in this day and age of social media, who doesn’t want some free publicity?

Contributed by Jay V.



Have you recently noticed a surge in Starbucks employees with tattoos? I have.

Like a crack-fiend, I’ve been going to Starbucks religiously and I notice everything. I can tell if their La Boulange pecan tarts have been sitting, and I have such a close relationship to their sweets that I can tell by looking at them if the shit is fresh or stale – and I use the term “sweets” in reference to their baked goods…and not the baristas I’ve dated.

Call it a sickness, or the fear of biting into a Madeleine that tastes like a stack of communion, but either way I know my goods. But seriously, as of late, there are more and more baristas with tattoos. From cute little tattoos, to half and full-sleeves, I’ve noticed them popping up here and there so one day I decided to ask in a joking manner if having one was some sort of new rite of passage to work there.Needless to say, one employee told me that a Starbucks worker named Kristie Williams started a campaign to end the company’s previous ban on visible tattoos.


Screen Shot 2014-12-02 at 1.47.16 PM

Starbucks new U.S. Retail Dress Code Guideline.

After looking it up, I found out that the campaign was started online through a site called, and the overwhelming response got her over 25,000 signatures in support! Of course, Starbucks did the politically correct thing and announced on October 20,2014 that they will allow employees to show non-offensive, visible tattoos so long as they are not on the face or throat. That’s great news for Starbucks employees as well as the tattoo community. It’s also a great example of how one woman’s voice, fortitude, and willingness to create change made for a better workplace which is more accepting of a culture that is built on self-expression and creativity!


Story by contributor Jay V.