Local tattoo artist Meat brings art to life | Life

The door rings as it opens into a small dimly lit room filled with a distinct aroma of cigarette smoke. The interior of Animal House Tattoo, a small cabin on the side of Highway 12, features an orange sofa, plenty of wall art, and a row of stickers for sale with messages such as “Kiss my tattoo ”and“ Practice safe sex. Go yourself. ”A stocky, bearded man sits behind the counter. His name is Meat.

Many inked students on the MSU campus know Meat and have his artwork on their bodies to prove it. But most of them know less about the story behind the artist.

In 11e grade, Meat, real name Edward Johnson, was chosen to be an animator for the Walt Disney Company. Disney was recruiting background hosts for “The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride,” and Meat and his friend applied just for the fun of it. They were surprised when they received a phone call asking when they could move to Orlando.

“The first question was: where did you get your major and master’s in art? And I was like ‘I’m in 11e grade ‘and it was like’ there’s no way you’re in 11e grade ‘and I said’ I am ‘, “Meat said, recounting the phone conversation.

The recruiter told him he would fill the job for him. But unfortunately, a new director was hired and that promise fell through. So Meat took “the long way” and went to Mississippi State University School of Art. After graduating he applied again and was accepted to work in Disney parks and follow the animation team.

“I signed the papers, shook the guy’s hand, and when I put my arm out, the bottom of my tattoo came out from under my sleeve, and he pulls my arm up and rolls up my sleeve and says’ I don’t. can’t hire you with tattoos, ”Meat said.

It is indeed a rule that no Disney park employee is allowed to have tattoos, and Meat, for the second time, has been denied being an animator for Disney.

But, as Meat said, he’s good enough not to get down on himself.

“I had a child, so she was just born. I was like, ‘Well, you know, you can’t sit here and mope about it. You have to take care of her.’ “Meat said.

Meat moved on and put his drawing skills to work, only on real people rather than animated characters.

Meat has been with Animal House Tattoo since 2012 and devotes almost 60 hours a week to his job, maybe more. He’s just grateful to have a job in his major, he said.

“In Mississippi (tattooing is) the only artistic thing that really makes money,” Meat said.

But, despite his long hours, he never lets his work interfere with his relationship with those close to him.

“I’ve always made time for (my daughter). If this goes between her and work, I’ll make sure to take care of her first… She’s with me more than she is. ‘is not, “Meat said.

Even those who only know Meat for the time it takes to get a tattoo know how special his daughter is to him. Sarah Margaret Knight, a junior communications student at Mississippi State University, said she got a tattoo from Meat almost exactly a year ago.

“The meat was really nice. He was telling me a story about his daughter and how he had just bought a car for his daughter, and he was really proud of him, which I found really sweet,” Knight said.

Myia Wilson, a junior communications major at MSU, got her first tattoo from Meat on the night of her 18th birthdaye birthday.

“He loves his daughter. He has his artwork all over his office,” Wilson said.

Knight also mentioned the skill with which Meat got his tattoo done, which was an “S” back to represent his healing from scoliosis.

“He did a good job doing the tattoo, like his technique was good. It didn’t really hurt,” Knight said.

But how does a tattoo artist go from drawing on paper to drawing on another human? The meat revealed the secret of its soft touch.

“We are training on fruit,” he said.

First, apprentice tattoo artists start using the machines to draw straight lines on lemons, and then move on to drawing stars. Then they move on to oranges, honeydew and finally tomatoes.

“Then it was a red tomato with a very small liner. And if you can tattoo it without it exploding, you should never damage anyone’s skin,” Meat said.

Then comes the last step: getting a tattoo.

“You feel like you have no right to cause pain to anyone, unless you know what it does with your own hand. It gives you greater respect for the process. “Meat said.

Most of the tattoos Meat does are common symbols. He said the infinity sign will likely be popular for the duration of its own meaning – infinity. But Meat’s passion lies in long, elaborate tattoos – true works of art. His favorite tattoo he has ever done is to recreate the hands of man and God from Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” on a man’s chest.

But for all the great tattoo ideas Meat sees, he also sees a lot of bad ones – like a colored Smurfette smoking a blunt covering the entire forearm of a young woman, or a six-man nautical star. branches on a man’s neck to cover the word “goon” which was already tattooed under his chin.

Although Meat loves art, and has been doing so for as long as he can remember, he said his favorite part of his job is people.

Wilson, who has returned to Animal House several times for nose piercings, immediately mentioned Meat’s propensity to chat with clients.

“If you are going there to see Meat, you should definitely set aside two hours of your time because he loves to talk,” Wilson said.

Meat said he tends to get in trouble if he talks too much.

“You meet new people all the time, and then your older clients, they’re almost like a separate family that comes here constantly, then you come back over there and you start talking, and I’m pissed off for talking too much,” said Meat. “… There are people who start telling you stuff and it’s like ‘Oop, I don’t wanna know, because I don’t wanna be complicit when they find the corpse in the woods, so stop talking.'”

While Meat’s designs may not have come to life on the movie screen, they are brought to life on a daily basis by each person who sits on the tattoo chair and leaves Animal House wearing Meat’s art on their body.

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