So this back piece for LaMelo that we’ve been seeing all over our timelines, what is the process that goes into something like that?
We’ve actually been communicating while he was in Charlotte, so he texted me with this idea about four months ago. He throws me all his ideas and it’s a collaborative project. I’m really trying to give him everything that he wants, but a lot of times there’s things that really aren’t realistic or don’t work. I’ll usually give my opinion on things, but ultimately it’s his tattoo. So, it was a lot of back and forth. Once he gave me his main ideas, I’m the one that really brought it to life. I went through about six or seven drafts for this design.

I thought we were going to schedule this in summertime. So when he contacted me a month ago, like, ‘I’m ready,’ that caught me by surprise. So I quickly put together a team of my friends. The guys that helped me execute this tattoo are all guys that either work with me or I’ve known them and they’re friends of mine. 

Once the design was ready, I printed huge printouts and mapped it out on his back a few days before to make sure all the sizing was right. 

Can you explain the multiple artists part of that? Is that typical of big pieces like this? Are you guys all sort of tattooing sections at once?
It was rare that we were all working at the same time, but we’re all there and available. I think at one point we had maybe four artists all working at the same time. But this isn’t normal. It is just because of limited time. I didn’t want to spend too many hours on him at once. I just really was trying to get it done in the shortest amount of sessions possible. And that’s with the help of numbing cream. I’ve never seen it done without numbing cream or anesthesia.

At any point, were you trying to scale this tattoo down?
Definitely. He wanted a lot more than this and I really had to tell him like, ‘Hey Melo, this is really the max that we can do.’ I do this every day. So, sometimes [the clients] don’t know what’s doable in a certain timeframe. 

Can you talk about the theme of the tattoo that we see?
One of my signature styles is the black and grey with red. He wanted to keep that theme throughout his whole body. The “RARE,” he has that done several times [across his body]. I’ll tell him like, ‘Hey, normally people don’t do this,’ but Melo’s the type of guy that doesn’t want what everybody has. He likes to break the rules. At the end of the day, I gave him what he wanted and he loves it. That’s really what matters. 

Is there anything that got left on the cutting room floor?
No, not necessarily. We got everything done that we planned. Originally, he wanted a huge pair of dice, and then we swapped that out and we ended up doing the alien. 

I know he uses the extraterrestrial theme on some of his shoes. Was that the idea?
That’s exactly what it is. He’s just continuing the same aesthetic that he has with his clothing line. I actually have a Puma shirt where they use my tattoo design. So that’s his theme. That’s his aesthetic. Most of the tattoos are all space themed. They have some sort of alien element to to them or that scary type of font. 

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