Things out here in the land down under are hustling. I have covered a lot of ground in Australia, but pretty much seen only the inside of tattoo shops (and bars… what?).
All of the traveling over the past 80 weeks took a toll on me and for a while i thought it was gonna take me out. I was living such a solitary existence. When I got to Melbourne, I hadn’t tattooed in three months and I went to work for one of the best dudes in Australia, let alone anywhere. A real heavy hitter. After three months of no work that machine felt different in my hand, having to draw with a purpose and a deadline rivaled the mindless exploration I was experiencing in my sketchbook. Shit. Even dealing with customers freaked me out. All in all it kicked my ass.
Tattooing is a giant part of my personality, my identity – shit, it’s my purpose. Without it, I’m pretty lost. Exploring Vietnam, Thailand and Laos left me shook. I was alone and unfocused for so long that I felt like screws were coming loose. There was just no end to this trip in sight. It was just go go go and somewhere along the way I found myself wondering what I was heading towards, where was I go go going? Why wasn’t I working when I wanted to be and when could I stop traveling? When could I have some comforts, like a bed of my own?
All that time though, in all that darkness there was a light at the end of it. I was heading here, to work with Trevor, Debbie, Rob, Matt and Jake at Dynamic in Melbourne. To work with Rick Luder, Dan Power, Stacey Anne, Stefen, Spud, Laith and all the others at Five Star in Perth. And to Inner Vision to work with Cliffe, Kian, Norbert, Meghan, Wan and Mimi in Sydney. I was headed here to get tattooed under the Southern Cross by some of my heroes.
I was heading here to find out and accept exactly how much this craft means to me, to discover my place in it and to learn to work harder than I’ve ever worked. To give more of a fuck and less of a fuck all at the same fucking time. It’s tricky I know…
I want to make good tattoos, to be a good, kindhearted, conscious and aware dude but still be a pirate. To be comfortable in my skin; open to the people and places around me, making tattoos and work that will make people step back and appreciate the craftsmanship. To make work that inspires other people the way other people do for me. I don’t know when I’ll get there, maybe you never get “there”, maybe it really is all about enjoying the journey.
Recently after 565 straight days of traveling I decided I’ll head back to San Francisco on January 17th 2012: the two-year anniversary of when I left. I’ll get to see my friends and their families, to see my family, to see the man I’ve become on the road. I’ll settle down for a bit and have a bed and a couch but I’ll still set out on some epic journeys – just for shorter amounts of time. Until 2013 – when another massive trip is taking form that will rival the fuck out of the last year and a half. With that decision to head back there is finally an end in sight. I’m happy about that. Working full-time and deciding to head back to SF have had a huge impact on my personality and outlook. It’s been great to come back to Melbourne with my depressed head out of my ass. Getting laid always helps too.
But until then I aint through with this shit fuckers! I still have 165 days to go. I’ll be traveling through Europe in the frigid weather of the later months, leaving my mark wherever I’m asked and exploring this rock. I got people to do and things to see.
Get tattooed! (by me – somewhere out there)
JTG – Melbourne Australia, August 2011