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Krooked Ken Interview for TAM blog

07 Apr 2012 | Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews, News, Travel | Posted by: Sean Herman

Things have been pretty crazy lately. Between guest spots at Black 13 and Hope Gallery, time has been a little thin for updates. I was able to finish a blog for TAM about Krooked Ken, which they put up this week, thanks again everyone at TAM for the opportunity. I was really stoked on it, here’s a short exert.

“Walking into Powerhouse Tattoo Company in Montclair, New Jersey reminds me of everything that I love about tattooing.  It’s a small space, but it is wide open.  The lobby is covered floor to ceiling with flash, some old, some new, but all images that capture your eye.  I found myself getting lost, just looking at everything around.  Some particular pages caught my eyes that were painted by Krooked Ken, pages he had painted from old Stoney Sinclair designs.  I love Stoney’s work, and his attitude toward tattooing, so this put a huge smile on my face, like a giddy kid.  The work stations are also wide open, so everyone is involved in every tattoo being done.  No matter how many people were tattooing, it could even be just one, everyone there was participating, talking shit, and laughing.  Everything about the shop was tattooing to me, especially Krooked Ken.

I was lucky enough to get tattooed by Ken that day.  After I entered the shop and took it all in, Ken came out to great me right away.  Ken is one of the nicest, most approachable people I have ever met.  After he greeted us, my girlfriend leaned over and gushed about how great he was.  When we were talking about what I wanted to get done, I told him I wanted one of his signature pieces, which, if you don’t know, is his head put on a piece of iconic flash. 
He asked what piece I wanted to work with, 
and I told him “The Don Hardy eagle, you know?  THE eagle”.  
He just looked at me and smiled, “Oh, the one in the red book, got it.”

He walked to the back, drew it up, and came back; that was that.  We talked a bit about placement and made some jokes about images being forwards and backwards, and how little it really matters.  When he placed the stencil, the eagle was facing outward, and he said, “It’s for our discussion on what’s backwards.”  I just smiled, like a kid in a candy store.  To me, that’s tattooing.

The following stories are about how Krooked Ken got into the world of tattooing.  It comes from our conversation while he was tattooing me so, it’s not just the story about how Ken started tattooing, it’s several stories, all wrapped up in an amazing conversation had while getting a great tattoo.  I wanted to capture the atmosphere of how it is getting tattooed, the conversations, the stories, the random people interjecting, random stories coming out of nowhere, all of it.  So I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed hearing it.”

To read more, check out TAM blog here

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For the Love of Tattooing: CW Neese

05 Feb 2012 | Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews, News, Travel, Videos | Posted by: Sean Herman

I recently wrote a blog for Tattoo Artist Magazine about my friend CW Neese, the founder of Royal Street Tattoo. Here’s a short exert:

“I still remember the first time I ever saw CW Neese. He lived in Daphne, Alabama when I was a kid, and was a few years older than me. One day a few friends of mine and I went by my friend Jonah’s house. At the time, a band his brother was in was having a practice, which for us being young kids getting into punk rock, it was a big deal to see. A skinny kid, with black tattoos all over him, and pad locks in his ears came out screaming like Jello Biafra. I remember being like, “That is awesome, that is what I wanna be one day.” That was CW Neese.

Years later I had moved to Birmingham and started to get heavily tattooed. My friends here at home also started to get a few tattoos here and there, from CW. They would talk to him about me because I was getting so tattooed so fast, and he told them that he wanted to tattoo me. I visited home once and they relayed the message, so I stopped by the shop he worked at. It’s still so funny when I think about the first words we really ever spoke.

I walked in the shop, and I asked, “You CW?”,

“yea” he replied,

“I heard you want to tattoo me” I said,

“sure” He replied.

He drew up an awesome poison girl, which is still one of my favorite tattoos to this day.

When I was finishing my apprenticeship I came down to Mobile to visit and he told me all about his apprentice, Pony (who is now one of my best friends and a huge influence on my tattooing). From there it was years again until I saw CW. I was down in Mobile visiting, and some friends of mine where out at a restaurant. Out of no where I heard his epic radio voice, and anyone who knows CW knows that his voice precedes him. We talked for a minute, caught up, and went back to eating. On his way out he ran up to me with a fortune from a fortune cookie he had just gotten, it said, “A run in with an old friend will begin a life long family”. He handed it to me all excited and smiling, and I still have it to this day.

CW founded Royal Street in 2007, and I started doing guest spots at Royal Street not too long after it opened, and started working here about a year later. I was at a place in my life where I needed Royal Street, and am so thankful to this day I got to be here.

Anyone who has been around CW can tell you he has a way about him. He has a voice you would hear on radio, and can be intense, and will say things that have a way of changing your life. It’s always the little things he adds, little words that end up being part of such larger ideas, and it’s talking to him that helps remind me of my passion and love of tattooing. So, without further ado, here’s how CW Neese got into tattooing, in his words.”

Check out more at here at TAM blog

Thanks again Tattoo Artist Magazine for letting me share CW’s story.

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story time with famous gabe, new interviews and more

12 Dec 2011 | Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews, News, Travel, Videos | Posted by: Sean Herman

My newest Tattoo Artist Magazine blog just posted, this one is about my good friend Famous Gabe. Thanks again to TAM for giving me this opportunity.

Here is a short exert:

“It’s been almost 10 years since I got some of the greatest advice I’ve ever been lucky enough to receive. I was getting tattooed in Pensacola, Florida at a beautiful shop called Hula Moon. Famous Gabe, a name he received from Bob Montagna, was tattooing me, a little skinny 19 year old. I had just received news that I was going to start my apprenticeship at Aerochild Tattoos, and was so excited that it was all I could talk about. While I was going on and on about it, Gabe said something that stays with me to this very day, he said, “Some people want to be rock stars in tattooing, ya know, but fuck that, I would rather tattoo the blue collar working guy and give him the best tattoo he is gonna get.”. Years later, I found myself in a situation where I felt like I completely lost touch with my roots and where I had come from, and those words rang in my head. In Gabe’s words, “You took the road less traveled, the strange road, and you came home.” Here is the story that comes from my home, about a man who has changed my life, and how he got into tattooing.

First, a little background about him. Famous Gabe Smith has been tattooing over 20 years now and is the owner of Hula Moon in Pensacola, Florida, which has now been open for over 10 years. He’s traveled the world, done enough paintings that could line 10 shops, and put in more hours of tattooing than that of 10 tattooers careers combined. Gabe has traveled the world tattooing and has a good story about every place he has been. To me, Gabe truly is tattooing at it finest, storyteller, artist, and honest. Without further ado, here’s how Famous Gabe Smith got into tattooing, in his words.

Famous Gabe:

“It seems like yesterday all this started but it wasn’t overnight and now I look back at a road traveled and it has been such a long road, over many mountains, and rocky steps. There were the ups and downs but that’s life. I learned from a crazy native american guy called Captain Billy. He taught me a lot not just tattooing but becoming a man too.”

Check out the rest of the story at here at TAM blog

Also, I recently did an interview with They just posted it, and I was really happy with how it came out. Check it out here at

and as always, thanks for reading.

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For the Love of Tattooing…

28 Sep 2011 | Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews, News, Travel, Videos | Posted by: Sean Herman

Recently I was fortunate enough to have Tattoo Artist Magazine ask me to keep up a blog on their site.
Here is a small exert of the blog I started doing for them,

“There is nothing like the sound of a solid, in tune tattoo machine. The thick buzz, the pop as the needle first hits the skin, and the feeling as you pull a clean, solid line. Any tattooer will tell you, “that’s addictive.” The feeling of tattooing, it’s like nothing else. That is why I tattoo. All I can think about day in and day out is that feeling. It’s like when you first fall in love and nothing matters but you and that other person. That is tattooing… It’s a passionate love affair that found me in a small town in south Alabama over 15 years ago, it has taken me half-way across the world, and brought me right back to the same small town…

I wanted to write something for the TAM blog that showed the positive light of tattooing, something that all tattooers could identify with, and something that people who were interested in tattooing could also find themselves in, and what better than the love of tattooing.

The first few of these blogs are going to be about how certain tattooers got into tattooing, how their passionate love affair began and where it is taking them today. I am going to talk to friends of mine, people who found tattooing and realized that it is something they could never live without. First, I’ll tell you how it grabbed hold of me…”

Check out more here at the Tattoo Artist Magazine blog.

Thanks again everybody at TAM for asking me to be involved.

In other news, have you heard about the Occupy Wall Street Protest.

And lastly, check out this video, it’s pretty awesome.

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today is a day…

11 Sep 2011 | Categories: Featured Blogs, General, Interviews, News, Travel, Videos | Posted by: Sean Herman

It’s something that we all face, and will ultimately experience.
It’s been on my mind quite a bit lately, and a quote from my step dad that i’ve shared before keeps coming to mind.

“You know, we take advantage of so much.  We have to be always learning, always looking, always seeking.  Ya gotta learn til ya die son.  I try to walk a different way to the mailbox to see something new, something that was always there, but I didn’t notice it.  A different angle of a tree, a different yard, something new.  That’s what life is about, never taking for granted all that is around you and everything you have.  Always learning, never giving up.”  

“Always learning, never giving up.”

That keeps ringing in my ears, over and over again.

“Always learning, never giving up.”

Today is one of those days that people spend remembering, and thinking about times past, and in that, I feel we should remember, “always learning, never giving up.”
Honoring those that we love with our lives by “always learning, never giving up.”

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