The art of tattooing


Zach Grimm in his studio in Williamsville

Bethany Clancy, Culture Editor

When driving down Main Street in Williamsville, we see a plethora of businesses big and small, Squeeze Juicery,  Spot Coffee, Time and Time Jewelry– just to name a few. But tucked above the Yoga by Design Studio, located at 5550 Main Street, lies an art studio. It isn’t your typical drawing and painting type of studio though. Their canvas is something a little different.

The Tilted Rose Tattoo uses the body as a canvas. Turning people into the art themselves.

Unlike painting, photography, and drawing, tattooing is a skill that you can’t just learn in a college class.

Zach Grimm got his foot in the tattooing door in 2012 at a small shop in Springville called Anchors End. It wasn’t long before he realized he had learned close to nothing during his ‘apprenticeship’ there.

2013 is when he really got to learn the ins and outs of a tattoo shop when he became an apprentice at Holy Ground Tattoo.

In 2018, Zach switched shops from Holy Ground to The Tilted Rose Tattoo. This has been his favorite moment in his career thus far, besides tattooing his mom.

Grimm said that he was always interested in tattoos as a kid, but when thinking about it as a career, it had seemed unrealistic, “like being an astronaut or a cowboy.”

When it comes to education, just an apprenticeship is all one needs

“There’s a lot of Mr. Miyagi-type teaching in the apprenticeship a school could never teach you,” Grimm said.

For one who doesn’t understand the art of tattooing, Grimm would just go from a technical perspective. He explains to people how the machine works and how the needle groupings work. Different needles and machines do different things. He usually finds that people who look at tattooing like art, don’t need an explanation, they just take it at face value and appreciate the end product. Not everyone cares about art, those are the people who want to hear about the history and mechanics. Zach thinks of tattooing as more of a trade than it is an art.

“I have met more people who became artists from tattooing than artists who became tattooers.”
The work of a tattoo artist entails a lot of little things, cleaning, prep work, customer service and keeping active between appointments. There is a lot of freedom with tattooing, but it comes with a lot of responsibility. During his downtime, Grimm tries to consistently draw or paint things to one day tattoo on future clients.

Most of the time people aren’t going to keep on artists to make sure they are progressing their career- they have to do it themselves, It is important to keep active and stay relevant.

For those who are looking to get into this area of work, Grimm said, “Be prepared for a lot of hard work before you reap the rewards. History is important, study the history of tattooing so you don’t make mistakes that repeat themselves and prevent you from moving forward. You’re not important, you’re not saving lives, people don’t need you. They need doctors, lawyers, and  therapists You’re just the sprinkles on the sundae, keep that in mind before complaining, it will keep you humble and grateful for what you have.”