we be rational afropunk exclusive: season 3 ink master contestant made rich talks tatts

July 10, 2013

With only six years under his belt in the tattoo industry, Richard “Made Rich” Parker is well on his way to accomplishing major successes within his career. As the branding mastermind and owner of Think Before You Ink Tattoo Studio in Queens, NY, Made Rich’s endeavors has not been overlooked; he has been featured in publications including Urban Ink Magazine, The Source and Complex Magazine. In 2012 he was one of the talented tattooists highlighted in the celebrated documentary Color Outside the Lines. Now at the age of 25, Made Rich is the youngest contestant on the third season of Spike TV’s: Ink Master, which premieres on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10 PM, ET/PT.

By: Stephanie “PhaFa” Roy, AFROPUNK Contributor

Name: Made Rich

Shop & Address: Think Before You Ink Tattoo Studio – 36-57 36th Street, Long Island City, NY 11106

Years Tattooing: 6

Number of Tattoos: 8 tattoo pieces & 14 tattoos 

Made Rich’s wide variety of artistic skill transcends the notion of tattoo artists having limited specialties, his art work ranges from black and grey portraits, to new school, to highly detail customized pieces. Although he has only been a tattooist for six years, his previous experience as a Fine Art major at Wagner College sharpened his ability to adapt quickly to various mediums and tools. While thoughts of becoming a tattooist began to enter Made Rich’s mind in prep school, he did not take it seriously because he was focused on getting a football scholarship. However, after his freshman year of college Rich’s mother enlisted in the army and he became the head of the household. “Tattooing seemed like a way for me to get some bread, so I told myself if I could find a shop to work in before I have go back to school, then I’m not going back to school… and I found a shop to work in.”

The shop owner that opened his doors to the then 19 year old aspiring tattooist was Derrick “DTatStar” Verley of the former One Stroke Tattoo shop (DTatStar is currently at Think Before You Ink Tattoo Studio). Once in the shop Rich put mind over matter and learned tattooing techniques from “You Tube University”, shortly thereafter he began tattooing on human canvases; his first client was the quarterback from his high school. “I really feel like tattooing is 70% confidence, 30% skill. If you’re not confident with what you’re putting down then you’re not gonna put anything down that’s good.”

Although confidence in the tattoo industry is crucial, Made Rich also stresses the importance of being open to learning and building relationships. “You learn how to tattoo every tattoo you do. Ain’t shit gonna be perfect, you need to learn how to tattoo every part of someone’s body; every kind of skin type and every color of skin. It’s all trial and error. It’s all learning and building relationships, that’s really what I think this industry is all about in order to prosper. A tattoo artist…that comes after your lawyer and your doctor.”

After experiencing being both, the canvas and the artist, Rich knows that consulting with clients is beneficial in the long run because of the permanence of tattoos and how the person may be perceived as far as their occupation is concerned. “I believe that you can do everything on every skin; you just gotta do it differently. A lot of people come into the shop and instead of asking to see their portfolio, they ask, how much? That’s already the wrong question; you need to see what your artist can and can’t do. Every person is a different canvas.”

By naming his shop Think Before You Ink, Made Rich realized that through the simplicity of the name and logo its message would go beyond tattoos. Which explains why, getting to know your tattoo artist is vital when considering getting new piece. It also expresses that thinking before you ink plays a role in all aspects of life, something that he took into account when accepting his spot on the new season of Spike TV: Ink Master.

“I saw it as an opportunity, originally I was trying to win 100 grand and was trying to be famous… ‘til I got there and saw the caliber of artists I was working with. My whole game plan changed, it was operation compete and try to win, but I was more so focused on building those relationships because whether I win or not at the end of the day those relationships that I build with those people will stretch far and beyond. I was just trying to get in there and  learn. We all (the other contestants) still speak to this day despite what they will show on tv.”

Made Rich’s admiration and respect for other artists has been impactful in his career thus far. He has been able to absorb information and use it to his benefit while cultivating enduring friendships. “I admire every artist I cross paths with; if you’re smart you’ll be able to pull some inspiration from them. Even if you’re in the same caliber as them as an artist, they do something that you don’t do. As far as tattooing is concerned I look up to Miya Bailey, he’s doing a lot for art and tattooing as far as black business men and black people period. He’s one of those artists that doesn’t have too much pride and tries to uplift the community. And of course Derrick, he was the first person that opened the door for me.”

Now, with the premiere of Ink Master approaching, Rich’s top priority is to continue to develop a system for his shop. After experiencing his determination to succeed and seeing his high level of creativity, it is clear to me that we will be seeing more of Made Rich, his Think Before You Ink brand and team.

Season 3 of Ink Master premieres on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 at 10 PM, ET/PT.




Instagram: @thinkbeforeyouink & @madeRICH

Instagram: @phafanapanipi   

We Be Rational

We Be Rational is a blog series created by Artivist, Stephanie “PhaFa” Roy for the AFROPUNK community. Its purpose is to generate a narrative for tattooists, fine artists, designers and art enthusiasts whose stories have yet to be told.