my forsyth magazine tattoo article

A Love Letter to Forsyth County

South Forsyth High School’s graduating class of 1997 chose me as the “Most Artistic” student because there was little doubt from my peers that I was going into a creative field. I left my childhood home in the Commonwealth neighborhood and started attending Georgia State University, made possible by the HOPE scholarship.

It was around that time that I received my first tattoo while laying on dirty carpet in a rental house off Pilgrim Mill Road. I was eighteen. I could never afford a professional tattoo on the money I made delivering pizzas for Mellow Mushroom, but through the eyes of youth, there was nothing wrong with an amateur tattoo. All of my friends were getting them too. Right here in Cumming. When I got home, I found a giant swollen tick sucking at my chest - the tattoo and the tick both came from that dirty Forsyth County carpet.

We have found so much acceptance in Vickery, developing incredible friendships through the neighborhood, village, and events. We feel at home here and are planting deep roots...

Looking back on that first tattoo experience, thinking about how far I’ve come, it’s absolutely crazy to me. My life has been completely focused on tattooing every day since. I ended up with a tattoo apprenticeship, a coveted opportunity to learn the wisdom of this ancient craft that has exploded in professionalism during my time. I’ve received numerous invitations to travel the globe tattooing and teaching other passionate artists about this timeless art form.

My studio, Ink & Dagger Tattoo, has provided me a platform to engage with clientele traveling in from as far away as Australia to collect my work. In the nearly 15 years we have been in business, I’ve mentored countless tattooers to raise the bar across the industry. I founded another company, Tattoo Smart, to empower tattooers with the use of digital design tools. Our use of emerging technology is becoming aligned with my vision of the tattoo studio of the future.

In a continued effort to give back what tattooing has given me, I went to Israel with Healing Ink and tattooed survivors of terrorist acts. I learned the true healing power of tattooing to give survivors much needed control of what happens to their bodies.

My wife, three children, and I spent a few years living in downtown Decatur, and when we moved back I was afraid that our lifestyle and our businesses would meet with rejection. We are now living in our fifth Forsyth County home, our second in the Vickery neighborhood. We have found so much acceptance in Vickery, developing incredible friendships through the neighborhood, village, and events. We feel at home here and are planting deep roots.

Ink and Daggar tattoo

Several years ago, the Forsyth County government voted to classify tattooing as “adult entertainment.” Knowing firsthand that my businesses were not welcomed by the County forced me to place my studio in Roswell and commute past my neighborhood for nearly thirty minutes to a different community. Many of my employees over the years have been Forsyth County residents, and hundreds of our customers commute from Forsyth.

This is my love letter to you Forsyth County and the Vickery community. So many of you, tattooed or not, fill our lives with joy. We are thrilled to call this place our home. When something tells you it’s time for a tattoo, or when your children want to get tattooed, I hope to be there to help you get it right.