It's not often someone goes by the name of an appliance, but tattoo artist Dan TV does. Growing up in York, Pennsylvania, he says, television was his babysitter. The nickname was given to him by a friend who, Dan relays, "said I reminded him of Mike TV from the original Willy Wonka movie. I would hold a complete convo, all the while, never taking my eyes off the screen. TV has always been my escape from reality."
Dan didn't go through the traditional, often grueling tattoo apprenticeship. Dan says, "I didn't pay anyone to teach me how tattoo. I learned by going to the tattoo shop pretty much everyday since I was sixteen-ish." When most of his peers were making weekend plans to get wasted or doing homework, Dan was watching people get inked. "I spent more time at the shop than going to high school," he jokes. "My mom can vouch for that."
Dan's favorite tattoos include "anything with bold lines!" As he says, "bold will hold!"
While he may have skipped more than a few classes to pursue his passion for ink and skin, Dan's start in the world of tattooing didn't get going until after high school. "Yes, I did graduate," he laughs. He even followed it up with a business-related college degree, which he calls "glorified wire running." While in school though, Dan's passion didn't fade. "Most days, I was physically, mentally and emotionally beat down," Dan notes. "They wanted to see how determined I was to learn how to tattoo." It's safe to say that Dan has what it takes.
But Dan did pay his dues, as he says, being "the shop 'bitch'," scrubbing dirty tubes, managing clients and keeping the shop clean. "I was constantly asking questions and watching," Dan recalls. Finally, when his friends and bosses thought he'd proven himself good enough, he says, "I ran with it, full speed ahead, and haven't stopped pushing myself since."
"I try to stay away from realism since I don't look at the world in a realistic way," Mr. TV says of his style.
Dan's work is constantly evolving. "If you stop learning, you should stop tattooing," he insists. "That's one of the many things I love about the tattoo industry, it's a constant learning experience." While these words of wisdom may seem a little trite or cliche, this evolution is evident in his product. "Nothing in this industry is handed to you," he assures.
Dan is currently the shop manager at the original Formula Ink tattoo studio in Fort Lauderdale. In between making sure the shop and its four full-time artists meet their clients' expectations, Dan spends "free" time building tattoo machines, which is, in itself, an art.
"I'm not a born artist," Dan says. "Right now, the machines I build are on frames that I buy, but I make all of my own internals." If you're stumped, this includes hand-cut, drilled, tapped, and wound mechanics. "I also make the coils from scratch, as well as binding posts and armature bars." Frame-making is next up for this man of many talents, who says, "I hope that when it's my time to die, it's with a tattoo machine in my hand.
Bonus: His first tattoo: "A skull on my ankle was my first line work, the first time I used color was filling in a rabbit my buddy started on my thigh." Ouchie!
Formula Ink is located at 3045 North Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. For more info or to book an appointment with Dan TV, call 954-566-6614.