I started getting tattooed by Rick in 2008. In the few years I’ve known him I’ve been pleased to watch him grow into a tattooer who respects the roots of his craft while maintaining and expanding his own style; reinterpretation instead of reproduction. Rick approaches his profession and clientele with humility and politeness and at the end of the day seems to be dang glad he got a chance to tattoo you. This interview was conducted via a string of back and forth emails in March 2011.
Keep It Secret. Keep it Safe.
Shawn Porter: Hey Rick.
Rick Lohm: Hello Shawn.
SP: Let’s start with introductions; who you are, where you’re from, all that.
RL: My name is Rick Lohm, I’m 24 years old and I’m from Central Square, NY. I currently work at Halo Tattoo in Syracuse, NY.
SP: You just turned 24 recently, right? So you were fairly young when you started tattooing. Did you go through an apprenticeship or did you start out on your own?
RL: Sure did. My birthday was on February 4th.
I got my apprenticeship the summer of 06 at Scarab Body Arts in Syracuse; I had been out of high school for about a year and my ex’s sister dated Jeremiah Clifford who worked there. I was always into art in high school and was getting ready to finally man up and go to school for graphic design. After hanging around Jeremiah for a little bit at the shop I found out that art could be more than drawing an apple with a light source.
I’ve always been interested in tattooing. My brother and I were in bands growing up and I’d seen all sorts of tattoos on people but never really thought it would be something easy to get into. At the time, the thought of me putting anything permanent onto someone’s skin was a terrible idea. After meeting Jeremiah I spent most of my time tracing old Sailor Jerry flash and trying to improve on my watercolor skills.
John Joyce (Owner of Scarab) was going away to the APP conference and needed a counter person for the week so they asked me to sit in. After he got back we had a talk about taking me in as an apprentice. John and Jeremiah wanted to take someone in and teach them how to tattoo without them having bad habits already from teaching themselves. So I became their mold.
SP: So were you already getting tattooed at Scarab or was it just the hookup with Jeremiah that brought you in? What kind of art were you doing before the tattoo influence crept in?
RL: Jeremiah really pushed to get me into the shop I don’t think I would of got in if it wasn’t for him. Plus I only had two tattoos at the time and neither were done there. My apprenticeship was basically handed to me on a silver platter. I wish i worked harder to get it, or had cool “I made a machine out of a toothbrush and sleeved out my brother” story, but that’s all there was to it.
As far as art goes I had a few acrylic and watercolor paintings that were decent from school. Mainly what held my interest before tattooing was graphic design. In high school my friend Ken and I would make little comics and i would try to make band t-shirts. I made a really sweet children’s book called “Marvin goes to the Mall” about a cave troll that won a ton of scholastic awards. I’m not too sure how happy I would be now if I stayed on that path. Graphic design was the only thing that gave me the artistic freedom I was looking for at the time.