As a welder’s son, I was naturally drawn to making things by hand. I had the thought of going into the same field, but as you know things change. I was getting tattooed pretty heavy around 18 or 19 years old and was spending a lot of time in tattoo shops between my full work schedule. Come the middle of 2004, I had a chance to change my life and started learning to tattoo under Karen Brandt. It’s really not that long ago, but back then, things were a lot different–I mean the pre-internet era (those who know, know). You couldn’t just hop on Instagram or Google and see what a thousand different tattooers were doing. There were still secrets; it was still a secret society, and she let me in.
I worked there for a few years. I tattooed as much as I could and there was no shortage of clients. It was an amazing time to be a tattooer and often miss those days. Ha! Eventually I started feeling like I was spinning wheels and wanted more. I figured out quickly that I could travel, and I hauled ass! Traveling through the States working in various shops and conventions helped me grow faster than staying in one spot, and I was immediately addicted to it. I continued to travel as much as possible while working in a street shop in upstate SC. Somehow, I landed in Atlanta working with now my good friend Dave Tedder. I had no idea the impact that guy would have on me. We traveled together for quite a while and that was a huge period of growth for me. I’ll owe that guy forever! I hate to admit it, but I began to tire of the fast paced life on the road. I was in need of a change.
I packed my things and moved back to my hometown in South Carolina. The slower paced lifestyle and the more private shop situation helped me put way more into each tattoo than I had before. When I left Atlanta, I was burned out on tattooing, but moving home and the change of pace gave tattooing the chance to remind me why I loved it. Moving home was the break I needed, but you’ve got to have a steady stream of folks in the chair if you want to keep on pushing yourself. Again I felt that itch to keep it moving, and felt like I needed to get back into the city. I’ve been good friends with Ashton Anderson for a long time and traveled with him a lot. He’d been inviting me to guest over at Memorial Tattoo in Atlanta. I was there tattooing, and Phil asked me if I wanted to become one of the resident staff. I jumped on it, and it was everything I needed.
Phil Colvin has been nothing short of a game changer for me. He gives me the freedom to travel and a comfortable place to hang my hat at the same time. Who could ask for more? Phil has been a huge influence for a ton of tattooers. I’ve looked up to him for a long time. There’s not better person I’d want to call my boss. I am truly privileged to call Memorial my home. It’s an honor to work daily with that whole crew. I still try to travel a good bit, but you’ll usually find me in Atlanta making appointments and taking walk-ins at Memorial Tattoo. You can contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instagram at @jlindley_mt. Thanks for reading my rambles.