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

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

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

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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Dub Weir of Phoenix's Divinity Tattoo on Inking His Wife and Surreal Realism

Courtesy of Dub Weir
Divinity's Weir isn't your normal realism tattoo artist. He's got a "weird" style all of his own.

When Dub Weir started tattooing in 2002, his mom wasn't really into it.

"At first, my mother was like, 'What are you doing with your life?' But now she loves it, and she's said that she wants to get a tattoo," Weir says.

To be fair, Weir wasn't a big fan of tattoos when he was growing up either. The tattoo culture of the late 1980s and 1990s just didn't appeal to him.

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Haunted House Actor Reverend Fish Crackers Keeps Them Screaming and Laughing

Benjamin Leatherman
Reverend Fish Crackers as one of his many kooky characters at Arizona's Original Scream Park in Scottsdale.
It's easy to spot the Reverend Fish Crackers when he's roaming around Arizona's Original Scream Park out in Scottsdale during the Halloween season. Just look for either a crazed dude in a straightjacket with a birdcage perched on his head that's ranting and raving about his missing parrot, Petey, or someone wandering about in a faded and dirty pink bunny rabbit costume.

That is, unless the reverend finds you first. After all, the 37-year-old veteran haunted house actor, who prefers to go by his madcap moniker, loves to stalk Scream Park patrons throughout its expansive courtyard and waiting area and proceed to frighten and confuse them with his bizarre and terrifying antics. He might even get them to laugh, if they aren't too terrified.

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Byron Winkelman of Gilbert's Black Lotus Tattooers on His Aversion to Portraits and Winning First Place at the Arizona Tattoo Expo

Courtesy of Byron Winkelman
As the owner and a tattooer at Black Lotus Tattooers, Winkelman has to balance owning a business with creating his art.

Some artists tattoo for the money. Others do it to make a name for themselves. For Byron Winkelman of Black Lotus Tattooers in Gilbert, tattooing isn't about the money or the acknowledgments, it's about a love of all things artistic.

"It's hard to make money as an artist. The starving artist is a real thing," Winkelman says. "If I had all the money in the world, I'd tattoo people and paint for free. I don't really like the business side of it."

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Josh Carter of 5th Estate Tattoo on His Grossest Tattooing Moment

Josh Chesler
Josh Carter of 5th Estate Tattoo has a very unique take on the Japanese style of tattooing.

Like many other 18-year-olds, Josh Carter had earned himself a scholarship to community college. And like many other community college students, Carter didn't know what he wanted to do with his life.

"I was at Pierce College [in California], just taking some random classes, and I met this girl who was a piercer," Carter says. "This was like 1996, so it was crazy to see an alt-girl with a bunch of tattoos and piercings."

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Tony Goeke of Love and Hate Tattoo & Piercing on the Most Memorable Tattoo He's Done (And Redone)

Courtesy of Tony Goeke
Goeke isn't just a tattoo artist. His paintings can be found all over the walls of Love and Hate Tattoo in Phoenix.

Like many tattoo artists before him, Tony Goeke got into tattooing when a shop opened up in his hometown.

"A shop opened up in my town [Richmond, Indiana], and I ran into one of the guys who owned it," Goeke says. "He was trying to get more people to come in, so I started hanging out there, and that's how I got started."

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William "Boomer" Baker of Fifth Finger Tattoo on Ink as Art and the Gun Accident That Changed his Life

Josh Chesler
William "Boomer" Baker of Fifth Finger Tattoo Studio sees the artistic side of tattooing a little differently than many others.

When William "Boomer" Baker lost his left index finger to a gun malfunction about a decade ago, he thought it was the end of his artistic career. Instead, it turned out to be just the life-changing event that he needed.

"I used to collect guns. One time I was messing with a gun, and it malfunctioned in my hand and took my finger," Boomer says. "I figured I wasn't going to be able to draw. I was worried that I'd have nothing to keep me sane, so I'd be getting into trouble and just doing stuff that wasn't good for me. Instead, it kind of made me switch to all art, all the time. It motivated me to show everyone that it's just a finger."

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Age Drago of Tempe's Living Canvas Tattoos on Clever Ink and Why Tattoo Competitions Suck

Josh Chesler
Age Drago is one of Tempe's top American-style tattoo artists, particularly when it comes to funny tattoos.

If Age Drago's mom had been all right with him getting his lip pierced, it might've changed his entire life.

"We had just moved from Mississippi to Arizona my sophomore year of high school, and I was really into punk rock," Drago says. "I told my mom I wanted to get my lip pierced, but she refused and said she'd rather me get a tattoo than a piercing. So she took me in to get my first tattoo when I was 15, I got an anarchy symbol to keep it punk. By the time I was 18, I think I had three more tattoos."

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