Since 2007, FK Irons has been driven to produce quality, consistent products that help artists focus on what’s important - the craft. So, at times we like to host some of our ProTeam artists here at FK Irons Headquarters to bounce ideas with our engineers, and founders, to pinpoint artists' needs to continue to develop practical, quality products.
Recently we had New-school pioneer Jesse Smith come to share his 23-year journey within the industry, and how he implements his creativity behind every piece.
In 1998, Smith was in the military and had a side gig drawing characters at Busch Gardens. There he met multiple artists, and eventually found himself befriending a tattoo artist, who was at the time working out of his own home. Smith’s friend taught him how to make his own ‘ghetto gun,’ which consists of a toothbrush, a ballpoint pen and a sewing needle. To make it work, Smith would glue the needle onto the tip of the pen, and use a Walkman motor to power it.
“The first machine I built,” he said, “ it would take seven passes to make one clean line.”
Before Smith started tattooing, he lived in Heidelberg, Germany, known for its large graffiti scene, which he took part in. In fact, street art is what helped Smith develop characters and solidify his New School style.
In 2009, Smith found himself feeling bored of tattooing ‘shallow’ characters, and felt they needed a little more backstory.
“So I created this fictitious continent called Carkayous, which is located off the West Coast of the Galapagos Islands,” he said.
Each character from Carkayous is connected in one way or another. Clients walk in his shop, Loose Screw Tattoo, located in Richmond, Virginia, and leave with a piece of his world.
Smith is one of FK Irons longest ProTeam artists, and he has had the opportunity to watch it grow into the successful company it is today.
“It’s pretty crazy to see how far FK Irons has come over the years,” he said, “and just knowing it started with one guy who had a passion to innovate new and better tools for artists.”
Although Smith has witnessed, and used, most of FK Irons machines, the Spektra Flux seems to be his current go to.
“The battery pack has changed everything for me,” said Smith. “I travel with less equipment now, and on top of that, when I tattoo I can move freely like it’s no big deal.”