It was for Gregg Adam. When it comes to getting tattoos, he’s a relatively late bloomer. A Florida native now living in St. Louis, it wasn’t until he was in his late 30s that he got his first. But he more than made up for lost time.
I’ve never had any tattoos until October of last year. Since then, it’s been non-stop. I got sucked into the culture.
No one in his family has any ink, but he’s wanted his own since he was 18 years old.
I like to say my family is a little bit country and I’m a bit rock and roll.
But Gregg’s tattoos aren’t born from rebellion or a midlife crisis.
I waited until now because I know so many people that got tattoos at a young age, which they regret; ones they want covered up, removed or redone. I thought about it for many years, and now everything I have I love. And these tattoos are going to look really good for the rest of my life.
The very first tattoo Gregg got was from Hart & Huntington tattoo artist Jimmy Rogers at our Orlando shop in Universal CityWalk.
My grandma passed away and she collected parrots and exotic birds. My daughter and I do the same now, so I decided I wanted to get our favorite bird—a scarlet macaw—tattooed on my arm.
Gregg knew he wanted the piece to be bold and super colorful. Unhappy with the quality of work he found in St. Louis, Gregg contacted two reputable tattoo shops on Orange Blossom Trail in Orlando, both who told him to go see Jimmy.
I like the Neotraditional style and knew I wanted this to be vivid, loud and full of bright colors, which is what Jimmy specializes in. I reached out and told him it was my first tattoo and from that moment, we worked together to bring it to life.
Gregg went all in.
It’s huge. It goes from my elbow all the way to the top of my shoulder, and I did it all in one sitting. We’re talking line work and color work. It was an experience, that’s for sure!
Jimmy had talked to Gregg on the phone before he came in and drew up a custom stencil ready for when he arrived.
I’d never stepped foot in a tattoo shop in my life up until that point. Jimmy is 6’5 and 250 lbs., and I’m 5’9 and 180 lbs., so I was as nervous as can be. He walked up behind me, puts his arm around my neck and goes “You ready, little guy?” I was like, oh my god, this is really happening.
Jimmy placed the stencil and Gregg remembers asking how it was going to feel.
He said, “I’m going to tattoo you so hard, I’m going to tattoo your soul.” Now we’re best friends and hang out and talk all the time.
In fact, Jimmy and Gregg often go fossil hunting in Orlando’s rivers and lakes.
I didn’t just get a tattoo; I made a lifelong friend. I love Jimmy, he’s such a good guy.
It’s safe to say that one tattoo has made a huge impact. And not just for its size.
Jimmy nailed it. I booked my next appointment while I was still in the chair, before he even finished the macaw. The bug hit me right then.
He was back in two weeks for his next piece and has made the trip from St. Louis to Orlando every two to four weeks since then to get more work done by Jimmy.
While I was getting that first tattoo, I was looking at Jimmy’s profile on Instagram and saw this cool x- ray hammerhead shark. I’m a Florida boy, so I love sharks. My little girl and I also love the movie Jaws, so I asked if he could do a great white like the one on the movie poster.
Jimmy worked his magic, creating an epic x-ray shark on the outside of Gregg’s forearm. After that, he did a chameleon from Gregg’s wrist to his elbow. Then a praying mantis on his elbow. He kept them hidden from his family until his grandma’s birthday on Easter one year, where he debuted them all.
Since my first tattoo, every additional one has been free rein for Jimmy. I never pick colors or get specific. He just does his thing because I trust him.
Gregg was running out of real estate at that point, so he had to move onto his right arm and chest. He knew he wanted a piece that captured the aesthetic of Dia de los Muertos, with its colorful sugar skulls and Black-and-Grey accents.
We decided to do something massive, but I didn’t even see the big picture until Jimmy laid the stencil on me. And it’s totally unique. I ended up with this girl wearing a traditional headdress with roses on it, but her hair is octopus tentacles which reach over the top of my shoulder. Next to it is a huge sugar skull with the tentacles wrapped through its eyes. It’s a really nice, big full-color piece, except when it gets to her neck where it fades to a blackish grey.
Gregg also has a plane, with gauges and a compass, flying over a map of Florida on his chest—a tribute to his heritage and being a pilot.
I just told him what I wanted and he brought it to life. It looks awesome.
Now he’s all the way down to his knuckles.
Jimmy is drawing up a Florida alligator to take up the left side of my body. It’s got its legs bound with rope and his head is crushing a big skull. We’re planning an all-day appointment for that one!
It’s a long commute from Missouri to Florida, but one that’s totally worth it.
I travel all over the world for business and people always ask me where I get my work done. There’s no color artist that can nail the lines and bold colors like Jimmy can. I’ve sent so many people to Hart & Huntington to see him and the rest of the crew.
It’s true. When it comes to tattoos, you get what you pay for.
You can see the quality of Hart & Huntington tattoo artists like Jimmy, Courtney, Chris, Marlo, Cool-Aid and Isaac compared to other places. Hart & Huntington hires the best of the best. I’ve gotten to know everybody, and they create some of the sickest work I’ve ever seen.
And that includes his own.
It’s hard for me to choose a favorite. The most memorable has to be the macaw for my grandma since it was my very first. I also love the gorilla on my neck. It’s right out there and you can see it no matter what I’m wearing. But Jimmy’s done such a good job on all of them, it’s hard to pick one.
He once met a guy who also had an octopus tattoo.
But his looked like a child drew it. I mean, it was bad. He came up to me and was in awe at Jimmy’s version. The work he and the rest of the Hart & Huntington team put out of that shop is impressive. Damn, it’s ridiculous. I see all these tattoo TV shows and, let me tell you, these guys can blow them out of the water, zero competition. This is art.
If his best friend were getting a tattoo, Gregg would send them to Hart & Huntington in Orlando without hesitation.
I’d tell them don’t go anywhere else except to H&H to see Jimmy. I trust him, even with my daughter Aubrey.
I recently went to Universal with my family, and Jimmy took half an hour on a packed Saturday afternoon to put temporary tattoos on her. She was so happy and was bragging that she got tattooed by Jimmy Rogers. When we rode The Mummy ride later that day, the ride operator was in awe of his work—he thought it was real ink!
Now Gregg’s son, who’s 19, wants to get a tattoo as well.
I told him he could get one, and I’ll pay for it, but only if he goes to one guy and that’s Jimmy.
It’s not just for his talent, but for his high standards as well.
Jimmy has a rule that your first tattoo can’t be somewhere that will inhibit you from getting a good career, like on your face. He’s very conscious about that. You get kids coming into the shop asking for face tattoos like Post Malone, and he tells them they’re in the wrong place.
It’s that trust and care that has made Gregg a Hart & Huntington customer for life.
There are other artists out there who do incredible work too, but it’s as simple as this: H&H or bust. Don’t fix something if it’s not broke.
He has plans to fill his whole body in the next two to three years. Then it’ll be onto little filler pieces.
I think the old-fashioned perception, that having tattoos makes you a bad guy, is gone. You can be a business owner, a millionaire, a doctor, a teacher or a cop. Tattoos are art. It’s self-expression. People look at me all the time now and tell me what gorgeous work I have. And I tell them to plan a Florida vacation and go to Hart & Huntington to get some art of their own.