URBAN INK: Med, how did you first get into art?
Med: I started writing graffiti probably around ten-years-old.I first started doing it in the stairwell of my building. At that time in theBronx, it was all over the trains. Then at 12-years-old, I was put into a grouphome by the state, because I was outta control and they felt my parents couldn'tcontrol me. At the group home, kids were noticing my graffiti abilities and Iwas getting a lot of props, and that kept me going with it. At 14-years-old, I"bombed" my first train.
What happened from there?
CAP noticed what I was doing and he put me down with MPCcrew, and then I just went buck wild on the city, destroying everything, Fromthere, I got put down by FC crew and later UA by Duster, which were two bigmoments in my graffiti career.
How did you get into tattooing?
I was 14 and had come home from the group home and this OGin my neighborhood was like, "You know how to do tattoo?" I waslike, "Nah," and he said, "You just get a needle and thread anddip it in India ink, then you poke it in your skin." So my whole crew gota bottle of Higgins India ink and went in the staircase. I did my name on myhand, and my other boy did his hand. It really had nothing to do with graffitior anything; it was just that one night. Who would have known what it wouldlead to?
So when did you decide to become a tattooist?
I was living a crazy life, writing graffiti, beefing andrunning wild, which eventually got me locked up. I was on Rikers Island in theday room drawing, and some inmates were watching me. One inmate was like,"Oh sh*t, look what he is drawing. Yo, you tattoo?" I was like,"Not really, but I have done it before." Then the dude said, "IfI can get you some stuff, will you tattoo me?" I said, "Yeah."So that is how it started.
Did you open up Tuff City right after getting out of prison?
After four years, I came home from jail in '91, and catsthat I tattooed inside and that were out now, were looking for me to tattoothem again. So I got some machines and other supplies, opened up in the criband it was back to business. Seen, who was my boy from my graffiti background,heard I was out and he was tattooing in the Bronx out of an upstairs apartment.We met up and he asked me if I wanted to come work by him. I said, "Yes,"and the two of us started Tuff City Tattoo together. After a little whileworking together Seen and I decided to go our separate ways, and he openedTattoo Seen and I kept Tuff City Tattoo. All of these years later, both shopsare still open for business and we're still boys to this day.
Can you tell us about your new company Tuff City Supply?
Tuff City Supply is graffiti and tattooing merged into onesingle online community and store. It is like this, whether you use spray cans,tattoo machines, or both, this is for you. I have lived this for the last 30years and I know what products I use and I know what is bullsh*t. I also seemad cats who are not a part of this culture trying to get over on us and sellus sh*t. I don't support them, and it is my goal to bring legit supplies tothose in our culture who need them. We carry everything from Intenze tattoo inkto Montana Spray paint, FK Irons tattoo machines, markers, all the core sh*tyou need to get up.
What makes Tuff City Supply different?
If you buy from Tuff City Supply you know you are gettingthe real deal--quality and industry - standard products from safe manufacturers- from a credible source. We will also provide you with educational content soyou can learn how to tattoo the right way. We are not some dudes from Chinajust looking to rip you off. We have been a part of this culture for 30 yearsand our name means something.
We hear that you're working with Intenze ink on developing inks fordark skin. Can you tell us about that project?
Tattooing in the Bronx, New York, we have always had hugeamount of clientele with dark skin tones. When first coming up in the game, Iwas told by a lot of older tattoo artists that color tattoos would not work ondark-skinned people. I never believed this, and through my experience foundthat, yes, you can put color in dark skin. Since this and through myrelationship with Intenze and using their tattoo ink for years, we haveidentified which colors go in the easiest and show up the best on dark-skinnedpeople. We are now offering those bundles of tattoo ink that work best on darkskin, pre-grouped together, on Tuff City Supply, along with video content onhow to best use these tattoo ink colors on your clients.
Any last words?
I know firsthand the challenges we face as tattoo artists,and it is my goal to help further the artists coming up in today's inner citytattoo culture. Fortunately, we at Tuff City Supply have been doing this fordecades and have some great experience under our belt, and it's our time togive back for the greater good of this industry.
Visit Tuff City Supply at: TuffCitySupply.com.