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Mo' Better - Bay Area Slinger
Originally from Fort Wayne, Indiana, Shannon Anderson is known to his friends and clients as Mo' Better - a name coined by his penchant for the film, Mo' Better Blues, which also fits the trumpet player/tattoo artist well. Mo' Better moved to Californias Bay Area during the fourth grade. The oldest of seven children, Mo' was first introduced to art as a child, as he attempted to draw his favorite cartoon character at the time, Garfield.
At the age of 13, he taught himself how to cut his own hair, and then started practicing on his younger brothers until he mastered the fade technique. Soon after, many of his classmates began to ask the seemingly skilled barber for regular haircuts. After watching the urban pop-cult movie, House Party, he tried his hand at doing designs in hair. "My work caught the attention of a photographer that later had me in my first magazine," Mo' recalls.

Growing up, Mo' Better became fascinated by the clothing styles of R&B group Bell Biv Devoe, which made him want to get some airbrushed jeans. This would lead him into another craft that he would soon master.

"When I wasn't allowed to go to the mall to obtain my painted jeans, I walked to the local store, bought a few packs of Sharpies, and stayed up all night designing my own for school the next day," he told us, adding, "It was such a hit that my classmates started giving me money the next day to prepare some for them."

After a week of peddling the colorful denims, Mo' had enough money to buy his very own airbrush equipment and soon after was offered a job at Southland Mall airbrushing clothing. His airbrushing skills again landed Mo' in a magazine spread. This time in Lowrider Euro Magazine for his work on a Honda Civicfor which he also won numerous trophies.

It was in the mid-'90s that Mo' took an interest in tattoos, due to constantly being contracted by people to draw sketches that they would later get tattooed. "After seeing some of my work coming back and looking terrible, I decided to buy my own tattoo equipment from a magazine I picked up," Mo' told us of his decision to venture into the art of tattooing. "Having no formal knowledge of tattooing, I tried to reach out to local artists for help, but got very negative responses."

After trying out on a few friends, he realized that tattooing was not as difficult as he thought. A few months later, Mo' and his friend, Paul Elgin, wandered into a well-known local tattoo shop just to look around, and Mo's work on Paul caught the shop owner's eye. "He hired me the next day," Mo' tells us.
While on the come up, Mo' admits that he faced plenty of discrimination in the tattoo industry, which made it difficult for him to establish himself in the tat game earlier on. He told a bit of his story in Miya Bailey's documentary, Color Outside the Lines, along with a host of other Black tattoo artists who faced the same struggles.

In 2010, Mo'-along with his brothers, Glory and Redd Tha Rsonist, and the help of business partner Dragoopened up Inkestry in Livermore, CA. Inkestry is 2000 square feet of inked awesomeness! With five private tattooing stationsthe smallest being 12x12ft.a private piercing room, large front lobby, and a large lounge area, Inkestry has no reason to envy any of the neighboring shops. The cutting-edge shop also has flat screen TVs with DirecTV service in every station, along with a computer for every artist.

Generally, Mo' Better books himself up on a quarterly basisthat is four times a year. He remains solidly booked five to six days a weekworking nine to ten hours a day.

"I pride myself in having a good business perspective on how to gain clients and making good money in a business that is not guaranteed day to day," Mo' boasts. "I have a corporate mindset when it comes to my marketing, presentation, and how to acquire new clients and mold them into doing the artwork I love to do that they never presumed they would or could get. I can do a tattoo artist seminar on that alone."
 
Inkestry
922 Larkspur Dr., Suite E
Livermore CA 94551
(925) 236-9680
Facebook.com/mbtat2
Instagram and Twitter: @mbtat2
Inkestry.com
mobettertat2@gmail.com

Article by Dez Ward

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