Artists: Ryan Cooper Thompson
Freaks on Broadway
Kansas City, MO 64111
What year did you start tattooing?
I started tattooing in 2004.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was an art major with a focus in oil painting. Honestly, there wasn’t much future in that for me. Having my neck tattooed already wasn’t going to land me a teaching job or a spot restoring paintings for museums. The only reasonable option for my degree was pursuing a career as a studio artist. I had friends in the tattoo community and started tattooing while I was in school. It completely took over, and before I knew it I was traveling to hang out with other tattooers and trying to learn as much as I could that I had no time for school anymore. I eventually dropped out with nine credit hours to go for my degree.
Where did you apprentice?
I apprenticed at Newage Tattoos in Springfield, Illinois, under Jason Lee.
Do you have any special training?
After my apprenticeship, learning the fundamentals and shop routine, I think the most important thing I did for myself was travel and meet other tattooers and see how they approached things. Applying what I picked up every time I ventured out helped me grow exponentially each time.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards?
I’ve worked a few shows around the country. I’ve been out of the circuit completely for about two years and
would like to get back in. I won an award in my second year tattooing for some stupid tattoo I did on a buddy of mine. I was more embarrassed that he showed the thing off than happy I won anything for it.
How do you describe your style?
Simple, bold. Illustrative traditional, I suppose would be a good title for it. I try to keep things simple and minimal.
What inspires you as an artist?
Traveling. Art nights with the guys at the shop. Just anything to stay motivated to be creative.
What sets you apart from other artists?
I think my tattooing depends more heavily on the composition rather than subject.
What other mediums do you work in?
I use watercolors outside of tattooing—like everyone
else, I suppose.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
Obviously the old-timers, if that needs mentioning at all. Along with the crew I currently work with and tattooers I have met along the way, I have a circle of friends back in Illinois that I value highly as well. I admire tattooers with a strong ambition. It motivates me to keep up.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
I don’t know if there is a specific subject, but I appreciate tattooing people who come to me knowing what they’re going to get and let me do my thing. Those are the days I really enjoy and look forward to.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
I tell them to bring me coffee and vegan treats.
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I’ve been trying some things out lately drawing-wise that I would like to try and incorporate into my tattooing.