First impressions

Meet Adam Barker. The guy behind the scenes.

If you go online to schedule a tattoo here at Hart & Huntington Orlando, chances are you're interacting with Adam. As our online manager, he's our unsung hero. And he takes his role pretty seriously because it sets the stage for your tattoo experience at H&H.

Adam Barker at H&H Tattoo Co. Orlando

Adam is responsible for taking care of the online submission forms—upwards of 20-30 a day—to get people in with the artist they want on a day and time that works for them. Sounds challenging, right? But Adam makes it seem effortless.

Quick and painless for the client; that's my goal in this position.

Adam enjoys building relationships with the clients before he even sees their faces.

It's pretty cool to build those relationships without seeing a face. And then when they come in, it's like, 'Ohhh, yeah, we've been talking for a month.' It gives them an idea of what our business is all about before they even step foot in our tattoo shop.

No pressure, but Adam's role is critically important for making a stellar first impression.

Connecting through words makes it hard to convey or even understand emotion. But I take the time to build that rapport. I'm building our client base without meeting the clients, so it's a critical role. It's up to me to make a great first impression and stand out from other tattoo shops.

Adam is not only a great online manager, he’s been a loyal H&H client well before he began his career at the shop.

Six years before working at H&H Orlando, I was getting tattoos here. Isaac (Bills) was the first one at the shop to give me a tattoo. I remember looking at his work and was like, 'Man, I want to get tattooed by Isaac.' He does awesome realism. At the time, I was working in the music industry and wanted to get audio console faders on my arm. So I called up Hart & Huntington and asked when Isaac was available. He was free until about 10 pm, so I went right over.

Things were a little different in 2017.

This was when Hart & Huntington had three stations and a long bar. It was a lot darker. It looked different before the remodel. So, it was crazy to walk in for the job interview and see how much the place had changed.

But one thing remained the same: the welcoming vibe.

I already knew the shop—I already knew the environment.

The environment at Hart & Huntington Orlando was one of the main draws for Adam.

The atmosphere is just amazing.

It's like a family here. Everyone is super friendly and professional, and they make you feel comfortable and welcome.

Leaving his close-knit Italian family in his native New York to head to Florida was a big move for Adam. So, finding a family among the Hart & Huntington crew was an unexpected—and pretty fantastic—surprise.

Adam, his girlfriend, and Marlo

I've worked at a lot of places, and it hasn't been like this. At my other jobs, I would clock out, go home. Everyone would go about their business and go their separate ways. But it's not like that here. And that's comforting. When I had my kid, Chris Turck and Marlo, one of the artists, came to the baby shower. It's stuff like that. You're building more than coworker relationships. You're building friendships with these people. It's cool to be a part of something like that, and I learn from everybody because everybody has a story, you know?

Adam and family

Speaking of stories, the "tattoo story" is one that Adam has enjoyed watching evolve. Gone are the days when just a select few had tattoos.

Today, there is such a broad spectrum of people who have tattoos. And I think that's what I love about this industry—the growth. When I was a kid going with my dad to get his tattoo, it seemed like the culture was very closed off—like not many people had them. But watching the growth from then to now is incredible. You've got doctors and lawyers with tattoos, your postman has tattoos, and the person checking you out at the store has tattoos. I think it's fantastic to see how the culture has integrated into everyday life, and I love how accepted tattoos have become. It's like everybody's welcome; I really love that about the tattoo industry. Some people who are amazing artists don't even have any tattoos themselves. I love that! It's almost like that mystery of the tattoo industry. It's incredible to see how far it has come and where it is going.

There's no question the industry has come a long way since Adam's first introduction into the world of tattoos.

I remember going with my pops to get his first tattoo. I'm from a small town in New York, so the shops there weren't much to look at. The tattoo he was getting (a Bugs Bunny tattoo) wasn't interesting to me, but the tattoo process, the art, and environment, now that caught my attention.

Nothing against Bugs.

Don't get me wrong, I love Looney Tunes, but being in the shop with Flash all over the walls was cool. Looking at all the pictures, I thought I could spend hours here just looking at all this artwork.

Even as a kid, Adam immersed himself in art and music.

The two biggest things in my life have always been art and music. I was always drawing and creating stuff.

Being in the shop, surrounded by talent and art was a pivotal point for Adam—one that shaped his future trajectory. Even now he can describe every detail about that day, down to the sound of the old coil machine.

It was all I thought about. I couldn't wait to get my own. My pops always had tattoo magazines, and I would flip through them. I'd look at all the different tattoo options I could put on my video game characters. And that was what drew me to tattoos in the first place. I did my first big research project on tattoos in the fifth grade to understand more about the history and how they were done back when there weren't even machines.

As much as Adam loved art, he followed his other love—music—after high school.

I had a music career, so art took a backseat, but once COVID hit, I lost my job. I was working in the AV, entertainment, and music industry. I knew I would have to be in New York, Atlanta, or Nashville to get a good job. But I'm looking at the tattoo industry and thinking people are getting tattoos all over the world. I could go to any town or city and have a job somewhere. That's what grabbed me. I had always been interested in the tattoo industry, but that's when something hooked me.

Adam switched gears and turned his sights from sounds to tattooing.

I was at a point in my life where I wanted to dive into the tattoo industry.

I didn’t care what I did, whether I worked as an associate, in manufacturing or as an apprentice. I didn't know what I was going to do, just that I wanted to be in the industry.

Adam hit the pavement running and started sifting through tattoo jobs on Indeed and other sites.

I would type in "tattoo" and see what popped up now and then. One day, I typed “tattoo” in, and an associate role at Hart and Huntington Orlando came up. I was like, 'Man, this seems too good to be true.'

Adam applied for the job, and went in for a first, then second interview. A few days after his second interview, when he didn't hear back he gave Todd a call. But, here at H&H, great minds think alike and Todd was about to call Adam back into the shop and offer him the job.

After talking with Todd, it seemed like something that I wanted to do. I was down to work my way up because I knew I had to start at the bottom. But, like I said, I wanted to get into the industry and see where I could go from there. Hart & Huntington is the perfect place to grow in the industry.

As Adam has grown, one thing remains the same—his happiness working (and getting tattooed) at H&H, so much so that his efforts have recently been recognized with a promotion to assistant manager!

I love working here, you know, it's like a dream come true.

I get to be around unique art and amazing people every day. It's the best job ever, and I look forward to stepping into my new role as assistant manager.

The next time you’re in the store, give a shout-out to Adam. No more hiding behind screens; Adam's ready to rock, roll, and build some serious face-to-face friendships with all you awesome guests.