Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cross Country - Road Trip With Scott & the Tattoo Video Magazine Crew - Part 4

The Westside Customs Tattoos crew: Crazy Bob, Mark Tomac, Richard Baker,
Melissa Baker, Will Anders

In the last issue, Lil'D and I were hanging out with Cleen Rock One at Top Notch Tattoo in Elgin, Ill. When we left there, we went to visit Nick Wiggins of Mark of Cain Tattoo in Champagne, Ill. Nick was cool and took us to see the slammed street rod he's been working on. We shot video of it and his shop for our ongoing tattoo DVD series.

Continuing north, we decided to go see Will Anders in Joliet, Ill.

I met Will in Cocoa Beach, Fla. last year and promised to come visit him some time. He currently resides in Joliet with his fiancee Sara and works at Westside Customs Tattoos. Will has been tattooing since 1984. When he was just 15 years old, he would work on his friends in his bedroom with a handmade tattoo machine.

"My mom didn’t like it, though. My friends would jump out the window when she would come home early," he remembers. "She always knew because of the cigarette smell."

When he was 18, he moved to Denver to start tattooing professionally. He apprenticed under Mickie Kott for two years where he got to work with a lot of great guys like Jason Willis and Tom Depriest, whom he apprenticed. "There are a lot of tattooed faces in Denver," says Will.

After six years there, he moved to South Beach, Fla. and worked with Ami James, eventually making it to Artistic Body Works to work with Ed Madigan for a while.

Will has tattooed all over the country at one shop or another over his 20 plus years in the business. He's also been building custom tattoo machines for over 10 years; so if you need one, you can contact him at rockabillywilly@yahoo.com.

And now Will is in Joliet with his old friend Mark Tomac, owner of Westside Customs Tattoos. Mark is a native of Joliet and has been tattooing for nine years. He likes to do the black & grey creepy stuff.

When we visited Westside they had just moved into their new location. The place was very clean and professional with brand new tile on the floor, new paint, a very large space with five tattoo stations and a private piercing room.

I like the half wall idea. It keeps people out of the work area that don't belong, but still allows them to watch and communicate with their friends getting tattooed.

Will at the counter

Chucho's work

Will and his fiancée Sara

They have a cool neon tattoo machine sign that sets the place off. There is some quality flash and some nice paintings hanging around the studio.

In the basement, they have a break room where they paint and draw. There is also a private bar down there and a TV so its hard to get people to leave sometimes.

They also have Richard Baker working there. He's a great artist and has been tattooing about four years now. He also does piercing along with his wife Melissa, the shop's resident henna artist and piercer. She is also tattooing now. Melissa has been doing henna for eight years, piercing for six and she just did her 27th tattoo.

Another artist that works there, Chucho, wasn't in town at the time, but Mark drove us around the city to look at some of Chucho's artwork anyway. A sculptor, painter and tattooer – Chucho is a very talented guy. Mark tells us that Chucho has been commissioned by the city to do some murals and statues. Mark considers Chucho a big influence on his tattoo career. He showed us murals that Chucho has painted in town over the years. Mark recalls staring at them when he was a kid trying to figure out how he did it. Mark is very proud to have Chucho working with him at Westside.

Richard Baker

Melissa Baker

Mark & Christie Tomac

We passed by the prison while we were driving around. The gate where they shot the scene from the Blues Brother's movie (when Jake gets out of jail, and Elwood picks him up in the old squad car) was right there in front of me; I had to film it myself.

Graffiti art is accepted pretty well here. We saw a lot of cool stuff all around the town of Joliet. It's nice to see a community embracing young artists, instead of considering them part of a gang problem. Chucho also did a sculpture in memory of a fallen police officer that stands in the middle of town.

The weekend we were there it was Cinco de Mayo, so after the shop tour, we got a hotel room in the area and met them later at a bar. I knew right away this was not the spot for me; too loud, and too many people so we left and went to a place called Glory Days where Will's fiance works and got hooked up all night. No one was there when we arrived. It was perfect;we got the run of the place.We played pool, threw darts and partied 'till closing. It was a lot of fun hanging out with the Westside crew.

The next morning, we all met for breakfast at the diner next to the shop. Some of them didn't look so hot, and others were just fine. No names here. Just kidding guys.

We had a great time hanging out with Will and Mark at West Side Customs. They really treated us great and showed us a good time. Thanks for all the hospitality!

Lil'D and I left Joliet and went to Chicago to see Hannah Aitchison at Deluxe Tattoo, then to the tattoo convention in Davenport, Iowa where we saw Lyle Tuttle and a few other friends. In Kansas City,we hung out with Ricco and saw the famous "Freaks on Broadway." Kansas City also embraces the graffiti art scene and we toured the back alleys with Ricco.

The multi-disc DVD set of the entire road trip will be available through Art Intensity Network. Check out the highlights here in Prick magazine.

In the next issue, we're off to Albuquerque, NM – home of Brian Everett, Tinta Cantina & Dave Martinez.

If you are ever in the Joliet area, you should definitely stop by their shop and get tattooed.

Westside Customs Tattoo
650 Ruby Street Joliet, Ill
Call for an appointment: 815-726-7822

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