“Sup, my name is Rodney Savage, I’m a tattoo artist, painter, artist, gamer, multitalented dope individual. Welcome to my world.”
The City of Brotherly Love is filled with a magnitude of Geeks; many of them are doing extraordinary things. This new segment is to introduce you to them and inspire you to be the best geek you can be.
Geeks in Philly’s first geek is a tattoo artist, painter, and gamer; Rodney Savage. (Yes; Savage is his real last name.) Savage, 28, was born and raised in Philly. He’s currently working at Skin Deep Tattoo & Piercings; which is located in North Philly.
Rodney Savage has a big smile and an effervescent aura that makes his clients comfortable. Yet it’s his talent that keeps them coming back. Though he does many styles of tattooing; it’s his ability to bring your geeky tattoo ideas to life that makes him so special. Not to mention he’s a big geek himself. He even asked me what was better, Digimon or Pokémon. (I said Pokémon.) I was able to ask him some questions about tattooing, art, what character if were real he would tattoo, and I gave him my own fan war question.
How did you start tattooing?
I’ve been wanting to tattoo since I was 16. I’ve drawn all my life, kinda thank my mom for pushing me into art just to stay outta trouble, even though it got me in trouble (Graffiti). In High school, I would go up to my friends randomly and draw on their arms with designs. Shortly I started drawing tattoo designs for people and getting paid for it. At 18, I was in community college and started an apprenticeship at a shop (will remain unknown). It didn’t go well. So I went solo and taught myself. With the refund check I received from school; I practiced on grapefruits, read books, watched videos and tutorials. Years later I’m here doing what I still love to do.
What kind of special training did you need to become a tattoo artist?
Self-taught with videos, books, asking other artist questions. I tattooed my friends. Knowing the difference between low and high-quality ink and machines. Did the best I could with what I had; and when money came into the rotation I upgraded every time, with some research as well. I was always clean so I made sure I had the best quality supplies.
Did you always want to be a tattoo artist? If not, what did you want to be?
I wanted to be an art teacher, professional painter, game illustrator, comic illustrator, musician, business manager in production, director, etc.. I really was a multitalented person growing up, I did everything in school majority to keep myself occupied. Tattoo artist just fell into play; because there are many styles and it lasts forever. It’s like I love that my tattoos leave a legacy behind that people will remember.
What are some misconceptions people have about tattoos?
People think tattoos will look ugly when you get older. The difference is that if the tattoo is shit, it will look like shit regardless. I dislike that many people accept crappy tattoos over amazing works of art and ppl don’t tell the truth about how bad it looks. I looked at my older work when I started and wanna cover them so damn bad. I understand it’s a learning experience, but if your thought is money only you’ll never be better. Another misconception is that tattoos are unprofessional looking. What does that have to do with knowledge? We’re less judgmental, can adapt to any environment, and have a great personality to express ourselves through art.
Do you remember the first tattoo you ever did?
The first tattoo was 2 graffiti letters on the bicep on my homie. The ink I had was so thin that it looked different on the skin than the grapefruit I practiced on. I wasn’t nervous at all doing it, it’s just different.
You seem to specialize in “Geek” tattoos; can you tell me why?
I specialize in many styles but I favor anime and comic style tattoos; because there is so much you could do, especially when you grew up watching the shows and reading manga. You can take a battle scene from your favorite episode, make fantasy mash-ups, use bright colors or use black and grey style, and more. Anime is full of animations and illustrations that show creative and sometimes fucked up stuff; that is very interesting to have you on the edge of your seat. I find it funny how people use to tease us for watching anime and now it’s a popular trend. True fans of comics, video games, anime, nostalgia cartoons appreciate them. Honestly, when geek tattoos show up I’d spartan kick the shit out of a someone to get to it! (Laughs) Just kiddin.
If you could give any character (comic book, anime, manga, etc) a tattoo, who would you pick?
Deadpool, even though I think the healing factor would take effect as soon as the needle penetrates (Deadpool enters sex joke). Johnny cage because he seems to make great conversation and jokes around a lot. Psylock because um why the hell not, first legit comic book crush. Sheva Alomar from resident evil 5, that’s video game bae. Ryu, just so I can listen to his traveling stories. Jason David Frank AKA Tommy Oliver, he’s the freakin green ranger…THIS COUNTS. Raphael from TMNT, I’m curious to see how to tattoo green reptile skin and he’s my favorite turtle. Mikasa from Attack on Titan because she is a badass and hot my respect for her is so damn high. Master Roshi I wanna train and I got some questions for him. Moxxi from Borderlands, sexy and gangsta as shit.
What advice would you give to those interested in becoming a tattoo artist?
If you want to become a great tattoo artist study and draw a lot. Stay focus on the craft, more than the money. If money is all you care about then failure is your go to. Be patient, stay humble, and remain hungry.
Lastly, a fan war question. Who would win in a fight: Goku or Superman?
As much as I dislike Superman…he would win. I love Goku. At first I said he would, but check out death battle on YouTube and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Superman is too overpowered and Goku would wanna fight him at his full potential. Therefore if his enemy is at a disadvantage and he notices Goku will eliminate the problem and continue the fight. Too much fighting pride which I respect, but if it’s a fight to the death Goku wouldn’t take advantage.