When I was in Los Angeles I received a tattoo from the famed artist, Sean From Texas. Sean is a wild man - he claims to have three interests: death (suicide particularly), aliens, and pop culture. Sean is a high-school drop out, self-made, and has 366,000 unique followers on Instagram. Words (in his handwriting) under his right eye don “I want” and on the left eye, “to die”. He has full face tattoos, a black “sleeve” completely covering his left arm, bleached hair, and crystal-clear blue eyes.
For the past couple of years I have followed Sean’s work very closely. I love the aesthetic of his work - black pen and ink. So clean, simple, and refined. When you see a tattoo in his style, you know it’s Sean From Texas.
When I was a little kid, I always wanted tattoos. I grew up obsessed with the “punk” aesthetic. My two next door neighbors and best friends Zach and Garrett (“The Twins”), would bleach their hair with me, spike it up, and dress in crazy outfits. Leather jackets, ripped jeans, and drawn-on sleeves that would take hours to complete (I was the artist).
Our parents thought it was great - they would encourage it. We would put on rock and breakdancing shows in my family room to the Gorillaz or Crazy Town, and our parents would pay us for tickets. On Sunday mornings, Cynthia (Zach and Garrett’s mom) would bring us out for breakfast where we were excited to show off our tattoos and outfits (she must have been so embarrassed!)
My first time in a tattoo parlor I was probably 9 years old. My dad took me to one in Cape Cod to show me what it was actually like to get a tattoo. Up until that point I was obsessed, but that day I was scared. The buzzing sound of the tattoo gun, the idea of pain, the idea of having something permanently embedded into my skin was terrifying as a little kid. I don’t even think it was my dad’s intention to scare me, I think he genuinely thought I would want to see what a real tattoo place looked like.
Over ten years later, (when my best friend Miles passed away), I re-considered the idea of getting a tattoo. But what to get, where would I get it, who would do it? These questions kept me distracted from making the commitment.
I decided that for my senior year spring break we should go to Palm Springs and LA. When in LA, I would make an appointment to see Sean From Texas. Miles liked his work, and Sean’s whole M.O. around death just seemed relevant in a twisted way.
I woke everyone up in Palm Springs early, literally dragging some people out of bed and got to LA right in time for my 2PM appointment. Upon arrival, Sean was sitting at his desk, headphones in, sketching out a morbid tattoo of a car accident. A young kid with long blonde hair sat in the waiting room on a couch with his mom. I approached him (since no one else acknowledged me) and he looked up with his piecing blue
eyes. “Hey man, I’m running behind, can you come back in like an hour, hour and a half?” I couldn’t believe it. “Hm… okay. How’s 330?” “Cool. See you then.”
To cut to the chase, I didn’t end up sitting down with Sean until 6. My girlfriend and I were turned off until he sat down and sincerely apologized. “I’m just broke man, and usually I wouldn’t be doing such a big piece but I had to prioritize it.” My friend Piotr radiated through Sean. Piotr has become my best friend since Miles passed (everyone jokes including myself that he was sent down by Miles since he’s literally my dream friend). A kid who spends an insane amount of partying at places like Sean, lives a certain type of unrealistic lifestyle and has no fear of death, yet complains about being broke. Sean and Piotr had the same voice and demeanor, too. It was pretty odd.
After about 20 different iterations were offered, I ended up choosing the first on the page. “Do You - Miles”. When asking Miles his advice on anything (and I mean anything) his response was always simply, “Do you.” Not because he was too lazy to answer or didn’t want to take time out of his day to offer advice, but simply because he knew (as did I) ultimately only you know what is best for you.
Be true to yourself. Be honest. “Do You.”
After a week of hoping Miles would approve of the tattoo I returned back to Syracuse. With Miles on my mind and looking for something to do, I logged into Tumblr for the first time in a while and scrolled over to Miles’ favorite blog “The Classy Issue” (theclassyissue.com). It was my first time looking in a while. The most recent post? Guess.
I think Miles approved.