Art has always interested me since grade school - art has always been my voice; my way of escape and self expression. In junior high school I started my own little side business and made T-shirts that I sold to my classmates. It was then I realized my true potential and that my art - my voice - meant something to others too. That little “side business” inspired me to go further.
When I was 16- well before the current regulations of not having minors present in a tattoo shop, I took a chance and walked into the Res Scorpion Tattoo Shop right here in Rome, NY. It never occurred to me that putting ink to skin, at that age, would not only change my life but the lives of so many. My mentor, Russ Merchant, taught me the ins and outs of tattooing. He taught me how to make needles (which we would never dream of doing in today’s world) but by the same token it gave me a new perspective and a whole new respect for the art of tattooing.
I spent hours building and tearing apart machines for months on end until I was finally ready to do my first tattoo. What a rush, so exhilarating. I thought I did a stellar job on that tattoo - of course we all know when we look back at our first ever tattoo compared to our current work we kind of cringe a little.
In 1999, i joined the US Army and served 9 years. After my honorable discharge I went back to school and studied nursing in college at MVCC, until one professor said something to would forever change my color path. She told me that i would never be a nurse with “all those tattoos.” So, with that being said, I thought to myself “if tattoos are what defines me then that’s what I’ll do.” I changed my major to fine arts and that was probably the best decision I have ever made.
After college I wanted to get back into tattooing on a regular basis - Starting out with a studio in a separate section of my house - my clientele quickly outgrew my space- a choice had to make be made…Should I or shouldn't I open my own shop? With a little “tender nudge” from my new finance, Tiffany, I took a leap of faith and started looking for the perfect location for Twizted Ink.
We settled in our current location in July of 2013. With just two booths and whole lot of: heart, determination, long hours and sacrifice - business took off and we quickly needed to expand to accommodate our ever growing clientele. In April of 2016 we expanded our shop to add 4 more booths and doubled our space.
Having had a less than ideal childhood - I set out to prove something to myself and those who said I couldn't - I never imagined the through my quest to better my own life I would be changing the lives of others and learning so much more about myself in the process. Its not just something that’s in the forefront of your mind but I believe that everything happens for a reason and I believe that we all cross paths exactly when we’re supposed to.
Although I can ink any style I specialize in fine detailed photo realism pieces and cover ups. When someone walks through our door there're instantly considered family. I currently have 3 apprentices: Emily, Alexis, and Ken. All three of them share my love for the art of tattooing and their drive to succeed is awe inspiring: each of them an artist in their own rite- They work right alongside me everyday and they're all getting ready to start inking skin real soon. We have experience everything with our clients from the birth of a baby, to the death of a loved one to the dreaded cover of the name of an ex and everything in between.
Each piece is only inked once and most of my work is custom with a few pieces drawn by clients themselves - we work closely with our clients to ensure that their piece is one of a kind and meaningful and many life long friendships have been formed from that kind of care and concern- but we wanted to do more. We felt like we needed to reach out to our community and help those in need even if they never thought of getting a tattoo.
Each October we host a Halloween Bash featuring live entertainment and local vendors. A charity is chosen to be the recipient of the proceeds from the bass. In 2015 we donated to the proceeds to a local organization called “Stand Against Suicide.” Our city’s mayor presented us with a letter of proclamation naming October 16th, 2015 Stand Against Suicide Day in Rome, NY. The response was overwhelming. We never dreamed that so many people in our small community have felt the sting of suicide.
We gained a whole new family following that halloween bash. We actually combined drag kings and queens with heavy metal for the first time in history and every day we hear stories of how that day changes the lives of so many that were contemplating suicide or that had lost someone to suicide - they always say “I don't feel alone anymore- I feel like I have somewhere to turn now - someone that understands.
We opted to continue our quest for community involvement and to continue our fight to change the face of tattoo shops. The proceeds from the 2016 Halloween Bash were donated to a life long resident of Rome NY that is currently battling Breast Cancer.
We do an annual food drive to benefit our local rescue mission as well.
We invite local vendors to set up a table at our annual bash and we never charge them a fee to be there. Being a small business owner, I know the importance of advertising but many business cannot afford the cost to advertise - we offer them the opportunity to present themselves and their products to the local community - its just one more way we like to give back.
The way I see it - without the support of this community, that we love so much, there wouldn't be a Twizted Ink.