Ink Master's Chris Nuñez on His New Miami Shop, Tatu Baby, and Corporate America
So you're in town and tattooing out of the shop?
Oh yeah, this is home. The only time I'm leaving is to film or for business trips. But yeah, I'm here. I realized after all the crazy last five or six years of my life, the thing I love most is just sitting down and doing a tattoo. It's the least stressful thing I can do in my life. If I sit down and work I'm happier than a pig in shit. If I'm spinning my wheels, chasing this and that, doing things for other people, it's awful.
I leave in April and I'm gone all April and May. That's really tough when you launch a new business. The show is a great springboard and platform, it gets that instant credit, but it's tough to leave your baby. It's like your family. When it's you launching it and you have this belief in it, you don't want to turn that over to anybody.
What other artists are working with you out of the shop?
We have a small crew. Jamie Ryscik and we have Twig Sparks, he was originally at Hart and Huntington. He was working in Vegas and he came down to fill the portrait gap. Everybody can do everything but he has portrait vibe. I do a lot of the crazier, more European Jappy stuff and Jamie loves Americana traditional, so we have a really good synergy where everybody does whatever they love. It's fun, I like doing everything. I like to be able to do whatever comes up.
You don't get so bored doing the same shit every day. If you do your style every day, all day, you don't grow as an artist. The way we grew up as tattoo artists 20 years ago was when a client came through the door, you had to do what they wanted. You had to be able to fill that order no matter what. A lot of young kids lose sight of that. They tattoo for a few years and some are great and some are shit, but at the same time they don't learn anything else and they think, I'll open my own studio and be my own guy in three years. That's crazy. But that's another reason why 22 years after I started I finally opened my own shop. I have all kinds of guests from all over the world. I'm super lucky with the opportunities and the relationships we have between the three of us, we have a constant revolving guest crew. The biggest names in tattooing. It's awesome, I feel fortunate.
Did you know Tatu Baby before her turn on Ink Masters?
No I didn't. It's Miami so we see each other's work. Before opening this space I was traveling. I was out of town two weeks out of the month. I was in Ireland, in New York, in California, in Baltimore. Those were my four stops. I kept my head down, did my thing, spent a lot of time overseas and just dove back into it.
What did you think of her turn on the show?
I mean, you know, I'm happy for her. I think she became an overnight sensation and success and that's what that show can do for people. People don't realize the power they have by going out and doing that. Sometimes it's for the better, sometimes it's for the worse. If you carry yourself a certain way, if the crowd loves you; whether you win or lose, you win. If you carry yourself like a retard, people also see that and you'll be tormented for life I'm sure.
Tatu Baby, she came in fourth but she came in stronger than number one. There's a lot to be said for that, so it's good at least for the hometown. It's nice for Miami to shine. I'm not at liberty to really get into much 'cause she's coming back on so I can't really be a cheering section.
What are some tattoo trends in Miami compared to the other cities you've worked in?
I see Miami still playing catch up. I'm hoping that Miami will one day be a tattoo city because we have a gazillion shops. But to find collectors like you find in New York, LA, San Fran, Atlanta -- shit, even Orlando and Tampa. They have a much stronger scene when it comes to the actual tattoo scene and people that collect and know the right names to get tattooed by.
Miami's always been a very transitory city where people come to party and get crazy. They come in on the last day of their vacation with charcoal skin to get tattooed, then take off. I wanted to not open on the beach and open in the city and create a local vibe where we have real clientele, normal neighborhood prices, nothing crazy, and just service the public.