Across a 30-year career, Mark Heggie has started two tattoo shops in the Detroit area with his partner Dan Rick – Big Top Tattoo in his hometown Utica, MI and Signature Tattoo in Ferndale. Of his art he says, “I did not get into tattooing, it got into me. I started out in Detroit during the tattooing renaissance at the start of the 1990s and I have been blessed to continue this craft for three decades. From walk-in Pinterest mementos to large-scale Japanese tattooing, I enjoy every second of my career. Each and every client that seeks me out for my skill honors me beyond the ability to express myself.”
The other co-founder of Big Top Tattoo and Signature Tattoo, Dan Rick has lived in Metro Detroit for 15 years, but his fascination with tattooing goes back much further. “I remember seeing my first tattoo when I was young and the impact it had on me. It separated that person from everyone else. I gave myself my first tattoo and started tattooing full time in 1997. It would be hard for me to narrow down just one thing I enjoy about tattooing, it is who I am.”
Black Rose Tattoos and Piercing‘s Marna Binkowski first became fascinated with tattooing at a young age. “I used to draw on my friends and family, I’m sure you can still find a Barbie covered in Sharpie tattoos somewhere at my parents house. In high school, a friend asked me for a doodle and had it tattooed on herself. To have someone love my art enough to literally wear it forever was truly amazing. I have been a tattoo artist for eight years now, and I enjoy every bit of it; the unique personalities and beautiful life stories, the challenges, ‘tattoo life’ and working with some great artists.”
Over in Plymouth, MI, Latricia Horstman opened her own studio My Little Needle Tattoos almost a decade ago after discovering tattooing in college. “I did an apprenticeship when I was getting my BFA in painting and fell in love with the culture and the art.” Her favorite thing about her job though is working with people. “Every day is a different adventure. Where else could I spend my day making art and helping people tell their stories?”
Tattooing is in the family for Iconic Tattoo’s Robert Casper. “My dad was a tattooer so he helped me get into my career. I’ve been around the industry for 20 years but this is my seventh year as an artist. The things I enjoy most about it are being able to be myself and to create art on a daily basis. I’ve also been around Detroit my whole life so it’s been great to work in a city full of pride and see it become a great place to live and visit again.”
Artist Susannah Griggs had spent years around tattoo shops before she ever really considered taking it up herself. “It seemed so stressful and I wasn’t interested in the kind of work that was big at the time, I was primarily a fine line artist and when I found my teacher he was doing fine line work so that made me want to learn. I love tattooing because the work speaks for itself, I don’t need an artist’s statement to make it valid.” Find her at Eternal Tattoos in Taylor, MI.
Johnny Andres figured tattooing would be a good job to have while in college. “I really just liked tattoos and thought I could draw. I was clueless but lucky, and was able to find an apprenticeship with only the third person I asked. I think he thought I would quit or mess up within a week or two, but I have been tattooing for 14 years now. I get to create images and put them on people for a living, just a weird and awesome thing when you think about it.” Johnny works out of futurelazertiger in Ferndale.
Working out of Black Ritual Tattoo in Berkley, MI, Detroit native Jeremy Utley got his start after meeting a tattoo artist at an art show in 2000. “He was opening a shop and looking for an apprentice so I decided to give it a shot. I’ve met some of the coolest, most entertaining and interesting people around through tattooing.”