All Or Nothing Tattoo Artist: Flaco Martinez
Flaco Martinez was born in 1977 at some hospital in Miami, Florida but considers Columbia, South Carolina his true home. Then a bunch of stuff happened and he wound up at the Savannah College of Art and Design where he paid too much and left too early. Then a bunch more stuff happened and he found himself living in Columbia in 2005 when tattooing was legalized and soon acquired an apprenticeship at Five Points Custom Tattoo. He finished his apprenticeship and began his career as a full time professional tattoo artist. He worked in Columbia for a few more years and then relocated to Virginia Beach for another few. In August 2011 he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia to work at All or Nothing. Flaco looks to personally and professionally build on the success of such a talented array of alumni both past and present and contribute significantly to the shops well-earned reputation.
Interview by All or Nothing Apprentice
Describe yourself in 140 characters of less…
How did you get into tattooing?
Well, I’ve always been involved with art in some form or another for as
long as I can remember. Comic books especially had a huge impact on my
creativity. In early elementary school I used to draw shitty comic
strips about a grouchy mosquito named (coincidentally enough) "Mr.
Mosquito" who had three rambunctious mosquito nephews that cooked up
trouble. It was a straight up Scrooge McDuck rip off but it got me engaged
in making and thinking about art. Pretty much every notebook in every
class throughout all of my schooling was riddled drawings in just
about any available space. In high school I got into AP art classes
and eventually I was accepted into attended SCAD, which had a
"sequential art" program but I didn't have the discipline or desire to
maintain my academic career. After a few years attempting to find
success as a freelance illustrator my art career began to dissolve
into the background. now not only had I been a part of a culture that
celebrated and considered tattoos an awesome expression of art but had
in fact bought and paid for almost a full sleeve on my right arm.
Tattooing was illegal in South Carolina until 2005, so the option of
learning the craft legally wasn't available to me while living there
at the time so when it did become legalized I immediately went out and
got an apprenticeship at the first shop that opened in town. I
sacrificed a lot to make it through. It was a crazy place to be at the
time, we had tattooers driving up from Greenville, SC and Augusta, GA
just to work the weekend because they'd make more money in 2 1/2 days
than working a week back home. It was kind of like the Wild West at
What kind of tattoos do you enjoy doing the most?
I’m super fascinated by well-done American traditional tattoos. Moving
from an illustration background where tedious detail and general
artf****ing were considered strengths, its tradition’s stripped
down, minimalist approach that stresses fundamental design and
cleverness that gets me excited to make more tattoos. I’m currently
really into using traditional design techniques onto subject matter
not usually associated with said style, but still has some personal
interest to myself whether it be comic book, toy, cartoon, or just
nerdy ass s**t in general. By no means do I consider myself a one
trick pony though, I feel confident and adept at most styles of
tattooing and art from realism to the abstract, I fear no style! My
preference is always to be able to put a little of myself into each
design and ultimately be in control of making the decisions I feel end
up at the best design possible for both my client and myself.
How has tattooing changed your life?
I can honestly say that tattooing is the best thing I’ve ever done with
my life. Nothing has ever given back to me like tattooing has. whether
it be the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet or the opportunities
that have opened up to me or just the personal creative satisfaction,
it’s made me feel more fulfilled than any other endeavor I’ve been a part
of. I’ve had a couple things published as a freelancer but even with
those modest successes I never felt as artistically empowered as when
u rock out a piece you’re really proud of. Most of drawing comics
consisted of locking myself in a room for 8 to 10 hours at a time and
stumbling back out into the world, and read just accordingly. With
tattoos, it’s a people business. You’re not just in this for yourself or
some random corporate entity. You’re not just sending something off to
receive feedback a week later. Tattoos are immediate and someone is
counting on you. It’s always an amazing satisfaction to hear you’ve
superseded your client’s expectations. I’m smart enough to realize how
truly lucky I am to be a free man doing what he loves.
How did you wind up at All or Nothing?
I’d worked and been friends with Mike McMahon since I started in the
industry a couple shops before here. Last summer I was working at
Anchor Deep Tattoo in northeast Columbia for a bit of a stay and was
invited to do a guest spot up here, when some boys were out of town for
a bit. Now, I’d heard of All or Nothing since the beginning of my
apprenticeship and had heard told many a story of the unconquerable,
seemingly mythical Brandon Bond and his empire of awesomeness forged
by the hands of some of the finest tattoo artists in the industry…
(Especially including equally mythical, DMFT). At first I thought of
him as some sort of knife-wielding unicorn that may or may not
actually exist but soon enough I was face to face with the man, and it
turns out he is quite the "hugger". I’ll just have to assume they liked
me and my work and invited me to stick around and kick some ass. I’ve
seen so many great artists represent this shop as some of the best in
tattooing and was more than happy to be offered a full time artist
position. I feel fortunate to be a part of this crew and will do my
best to bring the muthaf****** thunder as needed.
Dealing with Matt Dunlap …Hands down.
What’s the worst thing about working at the shop?
Any final thoughts?
Yeah. You know there’s so many people I need to thank for helping me get
to where I’m at and be who I am right now. I wouldn’t be here without
the support of the coolest Mom, Dad, Sister and Niece ever!! Tattoo
wise, so many people who have affected me positively in one way or
another. Stan Hudgins, Dave Alberson, Binky, Wes, Lanna, John
Guanlao, Marlin Dockery, Eric, Dale, Turner, Michael Corwin, Danika,
Bruce Ellis, Justin Johnson, The Chris-es Baumann and Bowman (weird,
right? they should open a law practice together), Kosher, Just Rob,
Greer, Curtis, Blake, Brian Decola, Jim, Lil Josh, Sweeney, John
Thrasher, muthaf***** P Loud and the real Superbooth!!! Never forget
where you come from!