Storytelling school

A DAY WITH… Matthew Davidson’s Unique Way of Storytelling | News

Editor’s Note: In the “A Day With…” series, Tribune reporters give readers insight into a typical day for various Howard, Tipton, Miami, or Cass county residents with unique jobs. The photographers will also provide photos and videos from the day of each subject. Visit our website at

kokomotribune.com

to see more photos from Kim Dunlap’s day with Matthew Davidson. When Matthew Davidson was a child, he once asked his mother what to draw. Draw the dog, she told him. “I said, ‘No, I don’t want to draw the dog,’ he recently told the Tribune, a smile stretching across his face. Davidson didn’t know it then, but this desire to think outside the box would be a blessing that he has used countless times in his current profession.Some artists use photography, acrylic or clay to show off their talents.Davidson uses ink.

Learn the basics

Davidson — who works at the Bohemian Tattoo Club in downtown Kokomo — has been tattooing for about 20 years now, a calling he first felt as a teenager. Great in his art classes and even president of his high school art club, Davidson began his apprenticeship as a tattoo artist shortly after graduating from high school in 2000. And after a short stint in college , where he earned his associate degree in graphic design, Davidson went back to tattooing. “Usually the way you want to start is to do this apprenticeship with an artist you admire who can teach you some things,” he said. “Some people just like to start in their garage or whatever and feel like they’re developing those skills, but they’re actually digging themselves into a hole when they just have to relearn everything the right way. ” For example, the first six months of Davidson’s apprenticeship focused on good cleaning habits, he noted, making sure not to contaminate equipment or fully sterilize needles. “So to really learn the trade properly, you have to go to someone who has gone through this learning process themselves,” he said. And of course, in addition to learning proper sterilization and cleaning, there’s also the actual tattooing part.

Put the art in the tattoo artist

Davidson patted his thigh and smiled when he remembered the first tattoo he had ever done. “It was about myself,” he said. After all, that was how his mentor learned, so that was how he was going to learn too. “Do you remember that old cartoon Jabber Jaw the Shark? It’s a very specific cartoon, but it has a good mix of long and short lines, and I had just learned about the one-liner, so that’s how I started. From lining techniques, Davidson then learned to layer color and create blends. Small steps, he noted. “You learn one thing at a time, and then one hand ends up washing the other,” he said. “You slowly learn different techniques.” These days, around 40-50% of Davidson’s body is inked, with everything from serious – a Frankenstein face branded on his neck in honor of his mentor – to silly – a portrait of a friend on his behind. . “To me, they don’t have to have this crazy story or be meaningful and deep,” he admitted. But Davidson, who is also an accomplished oil and acrylic painter, believes in the power of unique tattoos, which he encourages his clients to consider as well when they come to see him for their first consultation. . Because even though tattoos come in all shapes and sizes, their power often lies in the stories they tell. “I do a lot of memorial tattoos, and a lot of people when they come in want the cross with the date of birth and death, or a cancer ribbon if that’s what took their loved one, or something. like that,” he said. “For me, it’s a question of death. … This guy once wanted a memorial for his grandfather. I asked him what his grandfather did and he replied that he was a farmer. “I was like, well, most farmers have a specific brand of tractors that they use,” Davidson added. “He said instantly, ‘International Harvester.’ So… his cross became this cross with tractor tires and an international harvester and farm scene. It made it much more personalized for him. Things like that are some of the most meaningful things I can do. And while Davidson is always proud of his work, he acknowledged that tattooing is somewhat different from other art forms. “I think it’s like selling a painting,” he said. “It’s having someone who appreciates the work as much as you put into something. It is certainly satisfying. But there is also something strange too, in a way, like someone who likes to sell paintings. When I’m gone, this painting will still be there for people to see. But when it comes to tattoos, once that person is gone, my work is basically gone. It’s personal to me. And although Davidson has never had an apprentice himself, he said he’s always open to passing his knowledge on to the next generation of tattoo artists. He also took a few moments to offer a few words of encouragement and advice to those who want to follow in his footsteps. “First and foremost, focus on the art,” he said. “I cannot express this enough. Take all of your art classes, even if there’s only one you found online. …Then find that artist you admire and disturb them without disturbing them. I drove 45 minutes to the store where I did my apprenticeship. … But this knowledge acquired along the way is quite invaluable.

Editor’s Note: In the “A Day With…” series, Tribune reporters give readers insight into a typical day for various Howard, Tipton, Miami, or Cass county residents with unique jobs. The photographers will also provide photos and videos from the day of each subject. Visit our website at kokomotribune.com to see more photos from Kim Dunlap’s day with Matthew Davidson.

When Matthew Davidson was a child, he once asked his mother what to draw.

Draw the dog, she told him.

“I said, ‘No, I don’t want to draw the dog,'” he recently told the Tribune, a smile stretching across his face.

Davidson didn’t know it then, but that desire to think outside the box would be a blessing he has used countless times in his current profession.

Some artists use photography, acrylic or clay to show their talents.

Davidson uses ink.

Learn the basics

Davidson — who works at the Bohemian Tattoo Club in downtown Kokomo — has been tattooing for about 20 years now, a calling he first felt as a teenager.

A great in his art classes and even president of his high school art club, Davidson began his apprenticeship as a tattoo artist shortly after graduating from high school in 2000.

And after a short stint in college, where he earned his associate’s degree in graphic design, Davidson returned to tattooing.

“Usually the way you want to start is to do this apprenticeship with an artist you admire who can teach you some things,” he said. “Some people just like to start in their garage or whatever and feel like they’re developing those skills, but they’re actually digging themselves into a hole when they just have to relearn everything the right way. “

For example, the first six months of Davidson’s apprenticeship focused on good cleaning habits, he noted, making sure not to contaminate equipment or fully sterilize needles.

“So to really learn the trade properly, you have to go to someone who has gone through this learning process themselves,” he said.

And of course, in addition to learning proper sterilization and cleaning, there’s also the actual tattooing part.

Put the art in the tattoo artist

Davidson patted his thigh and smiled when he remembered the first tattoo he had ever done.

“It was about myself,” he said.

After all, that was how his mentor learned, so that was how he was going to learn too.

“Do you remember that old cartoon Jabber Jaw the Shark? It’s a very specific cartoon, but it has a good mix of long and short lines, and I had just learned about the one-liner, so that’s how I started.

From lining techniques, Davidson then learned to layer color and create blends.

Small steps, he noted.

“You learn one thing at a time, and then one hand ends up washing the other,” he said. “You slowly learn different techniques.”

These days, around 40-50% of Davidson’s body is inked, with everything from serious – a Frankenstein face branded on his neck in honor of his mentor – to silly – a portrait of a friend on his behind. .

“To me, they don’t have to have this crazy story or be meaningful and deep,” he admitted.

But Davidson, who is also an accomplished oil and acrylic painter, believes in the power of unique tattoos, which he encourages his clients to consider as well when they come to see him for their first consultation. .

Because even though tattoos come in all shapes and sizes, their power often lies in the stories they tell.

“I do a lot of memorial tattoos, and a lot of people when they come in want the cross with the date of birth and death, or a cancer ribbon if that’s what took their loved one, or something. like that,” he said. “For me, it’s a question of death. … This guy once wanted a memorial for his grandfather. I asked him what his grandfather did and he replied that he was a farmer.

“I was like, well, most farmers have a specific brand of tractors that they use,” Davidson added. “He said instantly, ‘International Harvester.’ So… his cross became this cross with tractor tires and an international harvester and farm scene. It made it much more personalized for him. Things like that are some of the most meaningful things I can do.

And while Davidson is always proud of his work, he acknowledged that tattooing is somewhat different from other art forms.

“I think it’s like selling a painting,” he said. “It’s having someone who appreciates the work as much as you put into something. It is certainly satisfying. But there is also something strange too, in a way, like someone who likes to sell paintings. When I’m gone, this painting will still be there for people to see. But when it comes to tattoos, once that person is gone, my work is basically gone. It’s personal to me.

And although Davidson has never had an apprentice himself, he said he’s always open to passing his knowledge on to the next generation of tattoo artists.

He also took a few moments to offer a few words of encouragement and advice to those who want to follow in his footsteps.

“First and foremost, focus on the art,” he said. “I cannot express this enough. Take all of your art classes, even if there’s only one you found online. …Then find that artist you admire and disturb them without disturbing them. I drove 45 minutes to the store where I did my apprenticeship. … But this knowledge acquired along the way is quite invaluable.