Artists: Matthew Hockaday
Dixie Tattoo Co.
5324 Dixie Highway
Waterford, MI 48329
What year did you start tattooing?
I started my apprenticeship in 1999 and started that same year.
How did you get into tattooing?
When I got out of art school after a year, I continued with classes to gain credits and worked some odd jobs, like well drilling and delivering pizza. I realized I needed to get into a field that involved art. I had a neighbor that owned a shop in my hometown, so I stopped by his shop with my artwork and he agreed to apprentice me.
Where did you apprentice?
American Graffiti in Brighton, MI, under Chris Page.
Do you have any special training?
As far as art goes, I had a couple years in high school and an awesome art teacher, Grant Fischer—he is my true mentor! I was blessed to have a teacher notice my talent and push me to draw and paint and pursue a career in art. Beyond that, just a year at college for creative studies in Detroit. I learned a lot there and have stayed driven ever since.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I have worked a few conventions, including the Motor City Expo, St. Louis Old School, Tampa Bay Tattoo
Fest, Hell City Killumbus. In addition, I’ll be doing the Tattoo La Palooza Miami, and Ink and Iron Long Beach for 2011. Yes, I’ve won some awards, and it feels great to get recognition. But I love gaining knowledge and just being around all the creative energy at these shows. I always come back home more humble and more driven!
How do you describe your style?
As far as tattooing goes I have kind of a differentoutlook on that. Tattooing makes you explore many different styles. For a while you do what the customer wants, and then you learn what you want to do. And if you are lucky, people come to you because they trust you and just love your work. So now I have customers that
trust me and my opinion—and I get to do what I want. With that said, I love to do portraits in either black-and-gray or color. I feel that there’s not as much planning and creativity—it’s all technique. But that’s kind of nice sometimes. Over the last few years I have really been trying to learn more about traditional tattooing and doing some neo-traditional stuff. I think that helps in my realistic work too. I really just love it all!
What inspires you as an artist?
Wow, I guess I would have to say, What doesn’t? I really just get inspiration from everything around me. I’m always taking mental notes, studying the way light plays off of objects, or I’ll find myself staring at people and then sketch them later. I like watching my daughter draw and the simplicity of a child’s art. I’ll jump online and
check out some forums to pick up techniques or ideas, and like I said earlier, conventions are always a huge source of inspiration!
What other media do you work with?
My favorite medium would have to be oil painting. But I also like acrylic ink on paper, or liquid acrylic on wood or canvas or linen. I like to sculpt on occasion; it’s cool to work in three dimensions and then draw your sculpture. I also like to do some stuff in metal. I guess that comes from years of tattoo machine building.
It’s nice to grind on some metal and get a little dirty! I try to put aside most of my spare art time to painting, though.
What tattoo artist do you most admire?
It’s a long list, so I’ll list the ones that have inspired me the most. Aaron Cain, Guy Aitchison, Jime Litwalk, Joshua Carlton, Nick Baxter, Craig Driscoll, Chris Trevino, Uncle Allan, Bob Tyrrell, Ron Meyers, Nikko Hurtado, Mike DeVries, Paul Booth, Shige, Jeff Ensminger, Jesse Smith … and on and on.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I’m really looking forward to some of the sleeves and back pieces I have scheduled and in progress. Also some of the stylized semirealistic/traditional one to two sitting
pieces I have coming up. I love when customers have challenging, crazy concepts!
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I would really love to do a Hunter S. Thompson portrait—Fear and Loathing Depp? Or where the buffalo
roam, Bill Murray.