When True Love's Adam Facenda opened a second tattoo shop so close to his original store, it was a big gamble. "I took a real chance in opening this place," Facenda admits. "I signed the lease, and then a couple of days later there was the announcement that the stock market was folding and we were headed into a recession." While most of us would have downed a handful of sleeping pills and chugged a bottle of hard liquor, Facenda saw it as a test. "I just kept thinking that if I can do it now, I can do it whenever. And luckily it worked out." Yes, lucky for all of us, Mr. Facenda, the odds were in your favor.
From the ashes of the annual South Florida Tattoo Convention, the phoenix of Black Dagger Tattoo rose. Though juggling two successful shops is intimidating, Facenda isn't done making his mark on the South Florida scene. His newest venture is the South Florida Tattoo Social. The inaugural event kicks off this Saturday, December 8, at O'Malley's Sports Bar in Margate. Conveniently located a stone's throw from True Love, the Tattoo Social promises a mix of networking opportunities for tattooers and collectors, a venue for live music, and one helluva party.
"It's really hard for tattooers and their clients to get together because we've got kind of crazy schedules," Facenda admits. "So we thought, hey, let's make one day a month a day that people can plan for and get together, have some drinks, tell stories, and have a good time."
We were lucky enough to snag some one-on-one time with Facenda at his shop last week, and we asked him about his experience in the tattoo industry and tales of the trade.
New Times: This may be a pretty cliché question, but when did you start tattooing?
Adam Facenda: I started tattooing when I was 26. That's when my apprenticeship started, but I was actually tattooing like for money later that year at Bulldog Tattoo on Fort Lauderdale beach. That was the dream team, me, Scott, Matt Bivetto, and Frank Lee. It was fucking awesome back then.
What was the raddest part about that would you say?
Well, it was the most fun I ever had at a shop. It was such a different atmosphere [from other shops]. Frank would just draw everything up in front of his clients, and that became like the "cool" thing to do. He was really the one that got all of us into drawing right in front of people, and they were just so wowed by it.
So it wasn't an expectation that an artist would draw something up on the spot?
Yeah, even if it wasn't the greatest design of all time, it was always a magic trick, and clients loved it.
Has that had an effect on the way you tattoo?
Of course! I really like drawing script and things in front of clients because they're always like "Wow! You made that from nothing!" I just love doing script.
I grew up in a generation of guys where that was becoming really popular because a lot of people were doing stuff off the computer. I wasn't happy with that, I wanted to draw right on people.
Have you ever tattooed your own handwriting on someone?
Yeah, it's kind of creepy actually. A friend of mine has my actual handwriting around his arm. It's the most personal thing to me, if you think about it, it's mine.
Are there any tattoos you don't like to do, besides fingers since you wouldn't tattoo mine?
Laughs. Well technically that's a body part I don't like to tattoo. As far as actual tattoos I don't like, I don't like doing peoples' names on other people. Like boyfriend or girlfriend stuff. Kid names are ok, but husband and wives, not really.
To say there's tattoos I don't like doing would be a lie though because I really love to tattoo anything and everything. I'm not a tattoo snob and only do traditional or Japanese or portraits.
Does that have something to do with the tattoo scene you came up in?
I was taught to be a well-rounded tattooer. The guys who are the most impressive, to other tattooers, are guys who can do anything, and there's not a whole lot out there. I'm not saying I'm the best at anything, but I also don't ever want to be a one trick pony.
It's really amazing stuff that we get to tattoo. We get to put amazing artwork on peoples' bodies and they can either have a horrible tattoo and hate their lives, or have a beautiful tattoo and want to show it off.
Do you think that having tattoos effects certain people's self-esteem?
Yeah, some people aren't proud of the way they look, or they're insecure. But when they get tattooed, now strangers are coming up and talking to them and there's something to talk about! There's kind of a spiritual thing there.
What'd your favorite tattoo story like that?
A lady came in and she found out that her husband was cheating on her, and came in to get a little parrot tattoo on her ankle covered up. She said it reminded her of those days because she was wild and young and gorgeous, and all the men wanted her, but that's when she met her husband. She thought the tattoo was ugly and disgusting now and she hated it and it reminded her of those times. She asked if it could be covered up, but the artist who did it back in the day was super fucking awesome, like an old school Coney Island tattooer or something.
So I told her I could save it and revamp it, but she was just so sad. So together we just wanted to make it look better since it wasn't a "bad" tattoo. So I basically did the tattoo over again, made the colors brighter and the lines thicker...and she loved it.
Did she ever come back?
She did! She came back a couple months later, and I didn't even recognize her! She was standing super tall and confident. She said she came in to thank me because after the tattoo she felt so great about herself that she started going out and putting herself out there, and she met a great guy and got an awesome new job. I happened to be having one of those super bad days questioning why I'm doing this, this is bullshit, no one appreciates a fucking thing I do, and she came in and she saved me that day.
The South Florida Tattoo Social at O'Malley's Sports Bar kicks off at 10 p.m. Sponsored by True Love Tattoo, Black Dagger Tattoo, and No Hard Feelings tattoo, Sailor Jerry Rum and PBR specials will be available all night. Live entertainment by the Reckless Dames, the Goddamn' Hustle, the Shakers, and Modern Day Outlaw will keep the crowd pumped between contests and games TBA. Omalley's Sports Bar is located at 1388 N State Road 7/441, Margate.
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