Josh Duffy on Opening a Tattoo Shop in Glendale and How Reality TV Impacts Longtime Tattooers

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Josh Chesler
When he's not doing top-notch realism tattoos, Duffy also does murals, sings, and plays both guitar and piano.

Josh Duffy has always been fascinated by tattoos. From the moment he got his first tattoo at the age of 21, he knew it was what he wanted to do for a living.

Fast forward to present day, and Duffy has moved out of the slums of Los Angeles to being on the brink of opening up his own tattoo shop, Black Castle Art Co., in the Valley of the Sun.


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Lloyd Parrack of Phoenix's Gypsy Rose Tattoo on the Road Trip That Changed His Life

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Josh Chesler
Lloyd Parrack, owner of Gypsy Rose Tattoo, has seen a lot since beginning his tattooing career in the '90s.

Every tattoo artist has that moment when they realize that inking people for a living is what they want to do with their lives. For some, it starts at an early age from an infatuation with tattoos, others find it when they realize they're doing more doodling than homework in school. For Lloyd Parrack, that moment came when he decided to follow his father's longstanding advice and not live the rest of his life as a mechanic.

"I grew up working on cars, and I was just over it," says Parrack, who now owns Gypsy Rose Tattoo, 1505 E. Thomas Rd., in Phoenix. "My dad always said he didn't want me to work as hard as he did for the rest of my life, so I wanted to find something else."


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Aaron "Bubba" Irwin of Scottsdale's Old Town Ink on the Difference Between Ink Master and Real-Life Tattooing

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Josh Chesler
Old Town Ink's Aaron "Bubba" Irwin might be most famous for his time on Ink Master, but he's made a name for himself with his tattooing in the Valley as well.

Tattoo-based reality shows, such as Ink Master, are relatively polarizing in the world of tattooing. On one hand, they've helped bring the art form into mainstream culture, but at the same time, many tattoo artists believe that the program sets unrealistic expectations for the amount of work and time it takes to complete a single tattoo.

Scottsdale's Aaron "Bubba" Irwin has a notably different viewpoint than most of the Valley's tattooers, as the co-owner of Old Town Ink competed in the fourth season of Ink Master, which aired in the spring of 2014.

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Jesse Frausto on Why Every Little Detail Matters When Tattooing Portraits

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Josh Chesler
Jesse Frausto is one of the Valley's most recent additions for elite black and grey portrait tattoos.

Jesse Frausto may have only left Los Angeles to move to Phoenix in July, but his tattooing has already built a following here in the Valley in just six months.

After winning multiple awards at several conventions for his black-and-gray realism work, Frausto started to make a name for himself as an elite portrait artist, solely by word of mouth (and with a little help from his portfolio via Instagram). Sure, Frausto realizes that he could probably dabble in tattoo styles other than photorealism, but for him, it's more about doing what he loves.


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Uncle Josh of Leap of Faith Tattoo on Military Ink and His Many Tattoos

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Josh Chesler
Uncle Josh doesn't just specialize in one area of tattooing, he prefers doing both traditional and portrait work.

Much of America's tattooing tradition comes from the military, with Navy sailors being a strong part of tattooing history. It so happens that Josh Gargalione's interest in tattoos was sparked before his service time, but he still sees the clear connection.

"A lot of it has to do with the rite of passage," says Gargalione, who goes by the name "Uncle Josh" and tattoos out of Phoenix's Leap of Faith Tattoo and Body Piercing. "Young men join the military, and the tattoos are a way of solidifying their masculinity and adulthood."


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Jake Imler of Copper State Tattoo on Drawing Inspiration from the Past and His Grandpa

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Josh Chesler
Imler isn't sure where he'd be without tattooing, but he knows that the art form has left a positive impact on him.

Some tattoo artists aren't sure that they want to ink people for a living until later in life. For Jake Imler of Phoenix's Copper State Tattoo, that wasn't the case.

"My grandpa had a really big tattoo that I always loved, so that's what first got me interested in tattoos," Imler says. "I started my apprenticeship in 2006, right after I turned 18. I knew that's what I wanted to do."


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Victor Lebo of Scottsdale's Rogues, Scholars & Dames on Why Faux Hawks Are Lame and Mohawks Rule

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Josh Chesler
Victor Lebo isn't just going to cut your hair for the quick payday. He'll make an art form out of it.

Victor Lebo didn't start off wanting to cut hair for a living, but after trying his hand at a number of other trades, he realized that the life of a barber was the life for him.

"I ran out of other things to do," Lebo says. "In high school, I did some auto mechanic work. I tried plumbing. I did a lot of it but none of it stuck. My grandmother recommended I try cutting hair after watching a TV program, so that's how I started cutting hair."


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Jimmy Gee of Tempe's No Regrets Tattoo Parlor on How Graffiti and Skateboarding Led Him to Tattooing

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Josh Chesler
Jimmy Gee is quickly becoming one of Tempe's top young tattooers at No Regrets Tattoo Parlor.

Growing up, Jimmy Gee never really thought he'd be a tattoo artist.

Sure, he liked to draw, but never anything more serious than a design for a skateboard deck or a quick sketch in his notebook at school. Then he found a new hobby, and he started to take his art a little more seriously.

"I got into graffiti, and that's really where I learned to create something," Gee says. "Before that, it was nothing past skateboard shit. I haven't been active in years, but graffiti is where I learned about structure and how to put stuff together."


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Manny Hernandez of Phoenix's High Noon Tattoo on the Strangest Lower Back Piece He's Ever Done

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Josh Chesler
Manny Hernandez of Phoenix's High Noon Tattoos is one of the Valley's top young tattooers, at just 26 years old.

At the age of 26, High Noon Tattoo's Manny Hernandez is still working on making his name in the Phoenix tattooing scene, but the traditional-style tattooer wouldn't have it any other way.

"I haven't done a lot of international shows or anything very far away with tattooing yet, because I think you have to represent yourself in your area," Hernandez says. "I believe in planting my feet and spending as much time out here as possible, because this is where I'm going to be."


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Nicole McCord of Tempe's Urban Art Tattoo and Piercing on Pinterest Tattoos, Mythology, and Inking Dark, Sultry Ladies

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Josh Chesler
McCord's eccentric style of tattooing fits best with bigger tattoos, as evidenced by the outlines of back pieces and leg sleeves behind her

When Nicole McCord started tattooing in 1996, she was under the same mistaken impression that she believes a lot of young people fall for.

"I originally didn't want to be a starving artist, and I was one of those kids who assumed that tattooers were all rock stars," McCord says. "I was wrong, obviously, but it's very rewarding. I'm glad I'm not just doing something to pay the bills."

When she's not tattooing, McCord spends her free time on her other artistic passions, like painting and drawing.

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