By Shawn Buss and Sean Hoy
Tim Hendricks is a second-generation artist, taught by his father at a young age. Since he was was old enough to grip a pencil and ride a surfboard, skateboard or motorcycle (all of which, he has a pretty fair grasp) he has been pursuing a life of art and leisure. He got his start by tattooing in the neighborhood he grew up in during his mid-teens, tattooing local Hispanics hoodlums and punk rockers. He is now known in the industry as one of the finest freehand artists on the planet.
Hendricks’ work is a blend of Latino & Japanese influences with Catholic iconography and the vivid colors and iconography of street art. As of late, he’s been working on a new project you may have heard of…NY INK? For those of you who live under rocks, the show captures the daily adventures of Wooster Street Social Club in New York City, Ami James’ latest business venture / tattoo shop. Actually it’s a bit more than that, It’s a stylish space in the soho district, housing six or so of the country’s finest tattoo artists and their apprentices. They allow cameras to follow their daily grind surrounding unreal skin art and the stories behind each tattoo. This satiates the voyeuristic desires of both seasoned tattoo junkies as well as those that have never set foot inside a shop (but have always wondered what the hell goes on behind those curtains). It is apparent that Tim was chosen for more than a couple of reasons as second in command to Ami. Not only is he a world class tattoo artist but his cool head and negotiating skills have probably saved a few lives on the show.
After the recent wrap of their first season, Tim is back out on the Left Coast, spending most of his time drawing, tattooing, riding his motorcycles and surfing away his days. We caught up with the legendary tattoo artist and discussed his craft, his influences and the correlation between tattoos and motorcycles.
RIS: What shop are you currently working at?
TH: I work between Gold Rush Tattoo in Costa Mesa California, and Love Hate (Miami Ink). RIght now though, I’m in New York City working on NY INK with Ami James.
RIS: Tell us a bit about your tattoo career and where it has taken you?
TH: Well that’s a very long story, but I’ll try and condense it as best as possible. I started tattooing professionally in the early 90’s almost twenty years ago… jesus I’m getting old. I learned how to tattoo neighborhood style, you know like home-made machines and shit, after a little bit I got real lucky and met a girl who’s dad was a tattooer (Rick Walters), since dads can’t say no to their daughters wishes very easily, he sold me a real tattoo machine. I started teaching myself to tattoo and had no shortage of clients. My neighborhood was full of them. Eventually I started making friends that tattooed and payed enough attention while getting tattooed, that I learned to lay in a ‘passable’ tattoo. I did ‘passable’ tattoos for years and never gave two shits about being some fancy tattooer. Then I realized that if I got good at tattooing, I could start traveling more. So I sold my soul to the devil and just like that, BAM, I was good. My career has taken me to the far corners of the world, I have seen some of the most beautiful things the world has to offer and I owe it all to tattooing. I have no problem with entitlement issues right now in my life, I am not owed just because I’ve been tattooing almost 20 years, I figure the longer I’ve been tattooing the more I owe. I’ve been given the gift of tattooing which has kept me out of jail, given me a life and everything I am; for that… I owe.
RIS: How do you feel riding correlates with your profession as a tattoo artist?
TH: You mean besides the obvious? Shit man, it seems like everyone has a tattoo these days. I didn’t learn how to tattoo the way all these new kids are learning. Some of these fuckers can’t even draw a name for christ’s sake. It’s all artsy fartsy now days. I learned how to tattoo around gangsters and bikers, it was that typical seedy type of environment that sadly enough people still associate ALL tattoos with. I don’t know many bikers or motorcycle enthusiasts that don’t have some kind of tattoo relating to there lifestyle, it goes with the territory.
RIS: How long have you been riding for?
TH: Shit man, I don’t know, 90% my life I guess.
RIS: What influenced you to get into riding?
TH: My best friend’s dad in grade school used to take us on trips to Glamis and shit like that, then when I was a teenager I got a hand-me-down street bike and just went nuts on the thing, I’m surprised I lived through it all.
RIS: How many bikes have you had and or built over that time period?
TH: Not as many as I would’ve liked to! But I built my first Harley Davidson in my early twenties, it was a 1945 flathead, a 45 cubic inch. It was a good starter bike but it didn’t last long, It was too slow. Even though it was just a ‘bar hopper’ I wanted to get to the bar faster! I ended up getting a ‘79 Shovelhead and fell in love with that bike. Since then I have built a few others for myself, bikes for friends and helped out on a some really cool projects.
RIS: If you have more than one bike, do you have a favorite and why?
TH: I only have one bike right now, but it’s a bike I’ve always wanted. It’s a 2009 Dyna, I’ve always wanted a Dyna. I guess I’m just a simple man ya know, but when you grow up poor like I did, your dreams are simple.
RIS: Where did you learn how to work on or build bikes?
TH: I built my flathead in my old bosses garage out of standard tools and a Dremel, no joke! He took me over to a guy named Chica to find some parts for my Shovelhead project. After going by Chica’s shop enough times he took a shine to me and told me to bring my bike by and I could build it there, I was ecstatic! Chica taught me everything, how to build every style engine, how to make a frame, weld properly, and all the little nick nacks and odds and ends every bike builder should know, I am a lucky son-of-a-bitch. Now days though I just get on that fucker, turn the key and ride, ya gotta love it.
RIS: Do you go to any of the rallies and if so do you have a favorite and why?
TH: I go to Laughlin now and then. I really like the Laughlin run, it’s not too far from California and I always end up seeing a lot of my friends there. Once me and Corey Miller went out there and tattooed like madmen, it was non stop tattooing, we didn’t even get a chance to walk around and enjoy our trip! Wild.
“IF YOU”RE GOING THROUGH HELL… KEEP GOING”
RIS: What is your favorite part about riding?
TH: Shit I don’t know, that’s like asking me what is my favorite part of getting high, it’s all pretty much amazing.
RIS: Anything else you would like to share with the folks in the tattoo or bike communities?
TH: Thanks for all the support throughout my whole career, I’d like to thank anyone I have ever had the pleasure of working with or any tattooer who has given something back to the table of tattooing. I feel I should thank Chica for teaching me how to properly build a bike from the ground up.
Revolt In Style Magazine wants to thank Tim for his time.