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Tattoo Machines NOW:
Could you describe your tattoo machine building style?
Veritas Irons: Hmm pre-fab i guess Is "custom production" a term? Seems to kind of cancel each other out. I like clean lines and clean style. Not too many crazy nooks and crannies going on Although, I do paint or "swiss cheese" some machine frames from time to time, If you like tattoo machines that look like a bunch of skittles or it came from the bottom of the ocean, you will not find what you are looking for with me. Brass, bronze and steel. thatís all I need.
TMN: What made you want to be a tattoo machine builder?
VI: The same reasons why I wanted to be a tattooer. Striving for perfection and cleansing the soul through failure. I was raised by my early mentors (whom of which I am greatly indebted to.), to know and understand the basic principles of what makes a tattoo correct. One of these simple principles is basic tuning and repair of your tattoo machines. This knowledge took me as far as I could go until I needed to know more.
I started asking myself questions "why is this this way or that way"????? I rebuilt an old Spaulding Supreme and it sucked horribly, but I was psyched!!! I soon after bought a Soba Pilot kit from Work Horse Irons. That sucked too. hahahahaha!!! I mean shit, it said right there in the ad "skills not included.". its been an onslaught of failure since then. But Soba was right. That ad made me want to build tattoo machines because it became clear that it was a challenge for everyday tattooers to become knowledgeable of such things. All the secrets of building tattoo machines were not commonly bestowed upon too many tattooers. There was a lot of misinformation handed down from generation to generation. I felt it was my duty to honor my profession by making the best tattoo machines that I possibly could.
TMN: Do you have a machinist background?
VI: Nope. I was a carpenter with my pop back in the day and he made his own cabinets and countertops. This was the inspiration for the ìdovetailî style of frames that Iím doing now.
TMN: How long have you been building tattoo machines?
VI: I've been dissecting and destroying tattoo machines since the beginning of my career. Iíve been tattooing about 10 years so, I've been building my own for a little over about half of that.
TMN: How long have you been tattooing?
VI: I started tattooing in 1999-2000, so about 10 years. I was bellhop in Atlantic City before that ha!! I was a bellhop with all these raggedy tattoos...checking in and carrying all these old ladies' bags and stuff.. it was crazy!!!
I was handed an opportunity to learn how to tattoo and I have never looked back. I was also a dumb-ass about a lot of things back then. My apprenticeship was hard and I learned a lot, but in the end, it just didnít work out.
Luckily, I ended up in another great shop and worked there for like 6 years and then my good friend Joshua Hinchey and I opened our own shop. Veritas Illumina Custom Tattoo and Gallery has been in operation for about 3 years.
TMN: Do you balance your time between tattooing and tattoo machine building or does one take the majority of your time?
VI: Its all the same. Its all tattooing. I just view it as one thing. Tattooing, painting and building tattoo machines. Its all the same category. One thing feeds the other and the more you do all three, the stronger you are on a whole.
TMN: Has anyone inspired or influenced your way of tattoo machine building?
VI: TONY URBANEK!!! Hands down one of the best dudes in the biz. A great friend and mentor. His tattoo machines are gnar!!! We lock horns on the regular on how machines should look and feel. We are almost the complete opposites far as style is concerned, But he gives me an invaluable amount if insight. Kevin Corder rules too. He is a very knowledgeable builder and a pure gentleman. Also my good buddy Paul Fluery of "crow knows" fame. He is the one who pushed me to learn how to draw and design everything on C.A.D.
TMN: How do you view the tattoo machine builder's community? Is there friendly competition going on?
VI: I don't pay too much attention to it. Its weird how there is always gossip here and there. I have a couple of homies that I talk and trade knowledge with on a regular basis. Other than that, I just keep my head down and go to work.
TMN: Do you travel to sell your tattoo machines? Any tattoo conventions that you regularly attend?
VI: Not really... I'll hang with Tony at the Philly convention, but that's about it. I own a shop in Mays Landing N.J. so its hard to get away all the time. I'm hoping to start doing more conventions in the future though.
TMN: About how many tattoo artists use your tattoo machines? Any notables?
VI: Ive built and sold tattoo machines to so many wonderful people. They are the reason I build these things. I love hearing that a tattoo machine that I built for someone has improved their work or made how they are working more efficient.
TMN: Do you manufacture all the parts yourself or do you deal with pre-made parts?
VI: A lot of the tattoo machines that I do are limited production runs. All of my machine frames are laser cut. I learned how to design every aspect on a C.A.D. program. so that I can have more control over the production of my drawings. So I donít need a middleman to do the drawing and prolong the process any further. This process takes the longest of all. All the math. I just work with what I have. I have a laptop, I donít have an endmill. Its been working so far, soÖ
TMN: Any favorite material you use for your tattoo machine frames and could you explain the benefits?
VI: 1018 and 1008 steel. Low carbon and easily machined. I don't dig on brass or aluminum. All the Mokume Gane and Damascus is great, but I try to concentrate more on function than fashion. I want to do some sand cast and possibly investment cast frames in the future, but for now ill just stick with what I know.
TMN: Regarding coils and springs are there any specific formulas you use to make your tattoo machines run a certain way?
VI: I just run 1018 steel 1.25", 8 layer coils for shaders. I use 1" cores sitting on a .25" yoke for standard frame liners. If im using a shorty frame, just the 1" cores with 8 layers of wire. will do. But lately ive been doing 1.25" cores with 6 layers of wire for a liner on a standard frame. I use .018 front and back springs. No big woop.
TMN: Have you had any experience with rotary tattoo machines or any other unconventional tattoo machine types? Opinions on them?
VI: Not really im sure they have some advantages and disadvantages. I'm all for innovation, but what it comes down to is plain and simple, FUNCTION. that's it, and that is all.
TMN: Anything you would like to add?
VI: I would like to thank everyone who has helped me in my career as a tattooer, weather it be a positive or negative aspect. I would like to thank everyone who has purchased a machine from me. Knowing that they are making tattoos in an efficient manner with tools that I had built for them is very gratifying. I would also like to thank Ben Reigle and Gabe Ripley (the mastermind behind TattooMachinesNOW.com ) for the opportunity to be involved in such a great project.
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