Q&A: Ryan Roberts
Following a career season last year Arizona Diamondbacks infielder Ryan Roberts has quickly become a fan favorite in the Major League Baseball scene. His excessive tattoos, which are not common in MLB, have earned him the nickname Tatman. In his honor this season the team gave away tattoo sleeves to the first 20,000 fans attending one of their games and last season Roberts won a fan vote that resulted in his being made into a bobblehead, tattoos and all. Roberts was recently named the spokesman for the up and coming brand Iron Fist and took some time out to fill us in on his new business venture.
Inked: Why do you think that baseball players don’t seem to get as many tattoos as other sports players?
Roberts: I think that they do, but it just doesn’t go as noticed as other sports. I mean I was just given the name Tatman and a lot of dudes will think that I have the most tattoos in the big leagues, but I know a few different people that have a lot of tattoos too, they are just not colorful, mine are color and I’m pretty fair skinned so they stand out a little bit more. I think that there are a lot of people in the major leagues with tattoos but people just don’t see it.
Inked: How do you feel about being called Tatman, do you like the nickname?
Roberts: Oh of course, it’s better than being called some things I’ve been called [laughs]. I never expected my tattoos to play a role like they have, you know most people look at people who are tattooed and they think different thoughts, other than Tatman. I think that it ended up being really cool, and really special for me.
Inked: Have you had your tattoos hold you back career wise?
Roberts: Um, you mean like have they ever held me back in a job?
Inked: Yeah, recently a lot of people have been getting removals, because they can’t get jobs.
Roberts: You know, no. I have never run into any kind of problems where anybody has said anything to me about covering up or anything.
Inked: You are going to be the spokesperson for Iron Fist’s new athletic line. How did you get involved with that?
Roberts: They basically just hit me up, asked if I liked their stuff and then asked if I would like to be involved with them. Obviously I like their clothes and I take the opportunity to do whatever I can because I can remember not having the opportunity to be involved in anything like that, so now that I’ve got the opportunity, I’m trying to do as much as I can.
Inked: What exactly is your involvement? You are the spokesperson, but what does that entail?
Roberts: They are a company that is up and coming so I just try to do interviews and use media outlets [like] twitter followers and stuff like that to get the name out there, get people interested, get people to check them out.
Inked: When is that launching? When is that going to be in stores?
Roberts: Well they all ready have a website up and they have at twitter site up, www.ironfistathletic.com is the website and @ironfistclothing, @ironfistmens and @irnfstathletic is their twitter. You can just go on there and check out all their stuff. I just did the pictures for the photoshoot that is going to have me actually wearing all there stuff as the spokesperson. I think that’s coming out in a month maybe.
Inked: Is there a common theme among your tattoos?
Roberts: I would say so just for the fact that the majority of them mean something to me. I never went in and got something off of a wall or tried to just get something on the fly. I really thought hard about it. I’ve been getting tattooed since 99’ so, for the amount of work that I have, you could probably get it done a lot quicker if you wanted to but I just kind of took my time with it, special things that happened to me in my life and when events occurs that I want to keep with me, I just started getting it tattoo.
Inked: Do you have any relating to your career?
Roberts: Yeah, you know I got a baseball tattoo, I got some different sayings, I would say I got quite a few.
Inked: How many tattoos do you have or rather how many hours have you spent in the chair?
Roberts: How many I have? I have no idea. How many hours? Man, the longest I ever spent was four and a half hours, and as for a total time, I couldn’t put a finger on it. I have been getting tattooed for a while so I just kind of lost track of how many hours I have spent at different times. I like to throw numbers out so maybe I would say like 100, 200, 300, but I have no idea really.
Inked: Do you go to the same tattoo artist?
Roberts: When I first started getting tattooed I got tattooed by a couple of different people. I got one in my hometown of Texas, then after that I got a couple in college and there I had been tattooed by a couple of different people, I just randomly went into the shop. Then when I got back from college, when I had I would say maybe four or five tattoos, then I just solely went to one guy for pretty much both sleeves. Then in 2009 I met a guy that I go to now and have been going to him ever since.
Steph: What’s his name?
Roberts: Olmy Rosenstock
Inked: Your tattoos have pretty much made you an icon. What was the deal with giving away tattoo sleeve replicas of your tattoos at one of your games?
Roberts: Yeah they had a promotion that they gave away the tattoo sleeves that actually from a distance could actually pass as a sleeve of tattoos; it’s kind of crazy. They came to me and asked me to do it, and I never thought that it would make me a popular person. I started getting tattooed in high school and even in college, there was always kind of that negative vibe and I guess now the culture is starting to be more okay with it. So it was really cool for me to be able to experience it in a positive way.