We recently connected with Gene or (Geno) Budowski and have shared our conversation below.
Gene or (Geno), thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today. Risk taking is something we’re really interested in and we’d love to hear the story of a risk you’ve taken.
Life is all about taking risks. Whether it is you risking something little or something big. I took the risk of being a Tattoo Artist around the age of 20, I was so broke haha. Dropped out of college and fully committed to this craft. This industry has only been legal since the late 90’s, making it even more “risky”. When I first started out, a lot of people/ friends and even family, shamed me for wanting to get into this kind of business saying it was only for druggies and bad people. I quickly learned that some of the nicest people in the world are covered head to toe in tattoos, and I learned quickly to never judge a book by its cover. Yes, there were times when I doubted myself and thought about even quitting. But I pushed through by meeting the right people and forming good habits, and of course I always hold myself ACCOUNTABLE. Only person who can make me better was me by putting in the work/ seeking out the knowledge to learn as much as I can. With all that being said, when I entered the industry, a lot of the trade secrets were guarded and tattooer’s were pretty intimidating then. So, I had to truly earn the respect of some “old heads’ for them to share the knowledge/techniques/relationships they built/earned over the years. Tattooing is for sure one of those things, that you get what you put into it. If you grind and put the art out there everything you need will fall into place, it’s the best gig in the world! I’m blessed to be a part of this industry. There are not many jobs in this world where you can constantly learn and improve oneself.
Gene or (Geno), before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
I got into tattooing around the age of 20. One of my friends was doing some sketchy tattoos out of his crib and I used to draw the majority of his designs… then one day I thought to myself “Why am I not doing the tattoos especially since I’m drawing them!”. So, I bought myself some crappy Chinese tattoo machines, and I jacked my brother and a couple close friends up! hahaha Thank baby Jesus that i have fixed those eye sores hahaha! After doing those turds I quickly found an apprenticeship because I wanted to learn how to do this the right way! To succeed in anything, you need three things: commitment, accountability, and goals. If you don’t have those three things, you will never be able to succeed. I can’t empathize with this enough FORM GOOD HABITS! Lebron did become the best basketball player by playing once a week, he practices every day. So that’s what I did. When I first started out, I painted one “Flash Sheet” a week. A flash sheet is watercolor painting that has tattoo designs ready to be tattooed. Painting helped me achieve the goals I’ve aimed for, once I reached one I would set a new one. Never been content. It’s crippling. I think what sets me apart from other people in this industry, is that I truly care. Meaning I draw each and every tattoo that walks through the door. It is always something custom. Yes people still send me reference photos but I always create something custom for them, instead of being a sloppahpottomas and just tracing whatever pic it is. The thing that I want for all my clients is for them to leave the shop with a tattoo that lasts a LIFETIME.
Have you ever had to pivot?
I think the turning point in my career was when I started “guest spotting” around the country: Florida, Vegas, Philadelphia. Meaning I would work at one of my friends tattoo shops 3-5 days and I typically wouldn’t be that busy but I would watch these dudes put master pieces into skin. Doing this opened my eyes to what real tattooing is and showed me that you can put some pretty wild/creative stuff into someone’s skin and it will last a lifetime. But I am pretty lucky to have been able to watch all those guys and gals do their things and to ask them questions to help me grow. I still have so much to learn in this craft They’re so many great tattoo artists out there nowadays, so it’s truly humbling when someone picks me for their project.
What do you think helped you build your reputation within your market?
I think what helped build my reputation was starting out in a busy “Street Tattoo Shop”. Meaning a heavy walk in the shop. Saturdays we would have at least 10-20 people at the door waiting, and we would have to knock them all out! Working in that kind of atmosphere really puts the pressure on you… but pressure makes diamonds if you’re consistent. Tattooing there forced me to do a variety of styles that I have never done before. Making me learn what I was good and bad at. Super humbling stuff. After 5 years of working there I kind of found the two Styles I wanted to focus on and began to hone in on them. Taking what I learned from other styles and combining them with techniques I learned from guest spots. My work started to sharpen up and began to stand out. Of course, I always have tried to make my customers feel comfortable and at ease. Typically, the shop is silly and carefree, so people tend to gravitate toward it. That’s something I’m proud of.
- Website: www.truetattoo.us
- Instagram: @genebudowski @truetattooshop
- Facebook: @truetattooshop