Brian Thurow on growing up conservative, tattoos as accessories and social consequences
Growing up in Little Rock, Brian Thurow never thought he would become a professional tattoo artist. But after six years in the Air Force, he decided to part from his conservative background by getting tattoos -- and he's now been tattooing professionally for almost ten years and is one of the owners of Dedication Tattoo. Westword recently caught up with Thurow, who talked about his conservative upbringing, the social consequences of getting tattoos, and the image of tattoos as an accessory in the media.
Brian Thurow puts a modern twist on traditional tattoos.
Westword: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Brian Thurow: I'm 33. I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and lived there until I was eighteen. I spent six years in the military, in the Air Force. And after that was right about the time I started apprenticing as a tattooer. I moved back to Arkansas and 2004 was when I started my apprenticeship; I started tattooing full-time in '05. I left Little Rock and moved to Dallas in 2006. Around that same time was when I met Jason Boatman met. He and I actually met in Little Rock tattooing together and then ended up both moving to Dallas and tattooed together at Saints and Sinners Tattoo. I tattooed at that shop for five years. Over the course of working there I also met Sam Yamini, who is also one of the owners of this shop. Sam moved up here first and worked at Th'ink Tank, followed by Jason and then me. The three of us all worked there together for a while. I moved to Colorado in the summer of 2011, so almost three years now.
Do you find it's really different here from Arkansas and Texas?
It's different in the sense that Arkansas isn't a very cultured place in terms of art or entertainment or media, things like that. Colorado, and Denver especially, is a great place for cultural-type things. There's a lot of young people with a really great eye for art and there's all kinds of other great scenes, and that lends itself to a good tattoo community. I like Colorado a lot, in addition to the nature and the beauty of the place, which is something that Dallas completely lacks.
How did you become interested in tattoos?
Back where I was from, growing up you typically would only see them on ex-military or just your good old, out-of-the-trailer-park-kitchen tattoo job or bikers and things like that. I always saw them on people like that and always thought they were super-cool. I never really imagined myself being involved in tattooing just because I came from a pretty conservative background. What actually got me into tattooing was I moved back to Arkansas after getting out of the military and was dating this girl who I thought had a bunch of tattoos at the time -- she had like eight or nine tattoos and I thought she was just covered in tattoos.
That sort of created an interest in me wanting to get some tattoos. Having an art background, I figured, "Well, shit, why not design my own tattoos?" So I started drawing tattoo designs and going and getting them at the shop in town. One night I was there getting one of my tattoo designs and ended up meeting the owner of the establishment, Seventh Street Tattoo, and he and I just started talking. We sort of hit it off and he asked me if I had an interest in learning to tattoo, if I ever considered it, and I told him I really hadn't but I thought tattoos were badass and I could draw some. So one thing led to another and it led me into an apprenticeship.
Continue reading for the rest of the Q&A with Brian Thurow.