Baxter's Blog


Posted in Letters by misterroadtripper on November 16, 2010

My name is Dave Melendez. I have seven years of experience and am currently working at Fine Tattoos in Muskegon , Michigan. I got interested in tattooing as a teenager, growing up in Downtown Los Angeles, watching older guys in the neighborhood doing it in garages and backyards with homemade “guns.” These guys were nice enough to show me as much as they knew and eventually my stepdad, Ronnie, loaned me some cash to buy my first real tattoo machine, at a convention, from Jack Armstrong. By then, one of these neighborhood guys had landed a job in a shop and showed the very basics of using professional equipment, in exchange for helping him prepare drawings. Time passed and I moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where I got married and worked for an auto repair garage for eight years, while I kept doing tattoos underground. Eventually, I got very lucky when a co-worker, Jose, saw a tattoo on one of the mechanics and introduced me to his brother Salvador “Shaggy” Ruiz, who had two shops in Los Angeles. Shaggy gave me a chance and I left for L.A., for four months. During that time I learned proper sterilization and took enough pics to get back home and land a job at Tiki Tattoo in Mesa, Arizona. Tiki is where I got my chops. I Tattooed a lot and all kinds of customers and subject matter. After six years there, I honed my skills towards the kind of work I aspire to do, which is photo-realistic work with a twist of cartoony exaggeration. I have since moved, and the wrecking ball is headed towards the old Tiki building. The shop has moved next door and I have moved across the country, so my wife can finish up her career. Of course, I am hoping to open my own place in the future and plan on tattooing, until my hands give out.

—Dave Melendez

3 Responses

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  1. Uncle Tim said, on November 16, 2010 at 1:05 pm

    It’s a rough road, ain’t it?

  2. Auckland Tattoo said, on November 16, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I like your work,

    good background! You’ll be there soon.

  3. capone AM said, on October 26, 2016 at 11:01 am

    Yea i worked at shaggies in east los Angeles for years hes a good man learned alot from him wish it was still around but he’ll always be a good friend

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