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Meet the Commander-in-Ink

 Just like the soulful ballad of The Dramatics, with Errick “Rock” Long, whatcha see is whatcha get. And when you meet Rock, prepare to be serenaded with some serious trademarks. In the moments between orchestrating the most momentous event in the south, you’ll witness Chapelle-like quips and an even more unforgettable Barack Obama impersonation. (Dubbed Ba-Rock because we don’t believe in wasting opportunities.)

It’s one of the reasons why the tattoo studio owner and organizer of the Huntsvegas Tattoo Expo garners reverence and respect. As he kicks off the second leg of the Sin City-themed tattoo convention in Huntsville, Alabama, his mind is set on making sure that everyone in his company is at ease. Armed to the teeth with true grit and the support of his wife and partner, Sanica, Rock’s solid rep is earned through will of power and his willingness to spread the wealth of all that he’s learned.

Rock, who grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, moved to Alabama at the age of 11. His mother thought that a change of environment would be beneficial for him. “My mother wanted to send me to Alabama because I got into fights,” Rock relays. “My aunt had a great place. Once I got here, I fell in love with the place, and I never wanted to go back.”

His aunt, an art teacher, was pursuing her master's degree at Oakwood University. Surrounded by music and art, it was his aunt's skill as a portrait artist that sparked his interest. Witnessing her paint every day provided the foundation that led him toward his future as a tattoo artist, with the insane ability to contextualize with color.

Rock's tattoo style is centered around realism, a skill that requires a superior level of consciousness to create lifelike and detailed artwork. He was inspired by artists like Joshua Carlton and Nikko Hurtado, whose works he admired in magazines. But even though the passion was there, guidance was a bit tougher to come by. When he officially started at age 33, already a husband and father, he would travel and study on the circuit. He’d also take advantage of tools like seminars and YouTube. Yet Rock's determination to push forward and his willingness to learn from others have been crucial in shaping his realistic tattooing style.

Tattoo Artist Rock Long

“I'm not upset about that at all,” he assures. “That was the best thing that ever happened to me because it gave me a chance to grow and be a lot stronger.” In fact, he sees the struggle he faced during the process as a pivotal moment in his life; Rock's journey to opening his studio, Platinum Koi, was not without its challenges. While it might have been tough, the obstacles he encountered during this period forced him to confront and refine his vision, and ultimately led him to a place of clarity in knowing exactly what he wanted to achieve.

It was during this challenging period that he was able to reassess his priorities and lay the groundwork for Platinum Koi. The studio became more than just a place to create art; it reflected Rock's unwavering passion for family. “When our customers come in, they become family,” Rock emphasized. “There, we don't have half vault booths where everybody sticks to themselves. Everybody in our group is family.”

Tattoo Artist and Platinum Koi's Rock Long

Drawing inspiration from his own journey and the challenges he faced while establishing Platinum Koi, Rock saw the need to create a convention that not only celebrated the art of tattooing but also fostered a sense of family within the tattooing community. At Huntsvegas, Rock's commitment to inclusivity shines through, ensuring that both seasoned artists and newcomers have a platform to showcase their talent and connect with like-minded visionaries.

By fostering a sense of camaraderie and support, Rock's convention stands out as a welcoming space where artists and tattoo enthusiasts can come together, exchange ideas, and build lasting relationships. Through his convention, Rock continues to inspire and uplift the tattooing community, making Huntsvegas a celebration of not just art but the power of unity and family in the tattoo world.

In the vibrant world of tattoo artistry, Rock’s journey stands as a testament to the power of resilience and empathy. His career echoes of passion, perseverance, and a genuine desire to build a community that embraces and supports one another. “[We] care for these artists,” says his wife and business partner, Sanica. “They are not just artists to me. This is not about us making money off an event. This is actually something that we're passionate about. So whatever we go out here and do we have to definitely make sure at all times we are giving the best service.”

Through his journey, Rock has proven that what you see is indeed what you get - an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve, cherishing the value of family, community, and the beauty of art that transcends limitations.

Want to see more of Rock? Follow him on Instagram at @rock_platinumkoi.

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Step into the Inkiverse with Stacy Smith

Inkiverse Inspiration Meets Impact  Stacy Smith: The Nature Goddess of Tattoos  “Breaking the rules is always a good idea...”   For Stacy Smith, it was and always will be tattooing. From the age of 15, there was no other option. Growing up in a religious household where tattoos were frowned upon, Stacy chose her own gospel. Holding true to her intuition, Stacy now enjoys playing the rule breaker... and believes all artists should do the same.   Stacy’s studio in North Carolina, Tattoo Me Charlotte, has become a well-known foundry for ink therapy and tattooing excellence. Unique yet intimate, the space envelopes all who enter with acceptance, clients and tattoo artists alike. Through her surrealistic designs packed with vivid mixed-medium details, Stacy has made an impact far beyond, spreading positive energy like vinal radiance. She is our Nature Goddess.  In The Beginning...  New life has been imbued into the tattoo community thanks to the passion that fuels Stacy. “[I wanted to] make a shop that says, ‘come as you are,” she said. “Dress how you want, be who you want, love who you want, eat what you want for lunch. We try to be a home to everyone who comes through our doors.”  Trained by a realism artist, but influenced by fantasy in design and color, her work is a beautiful amalgamation of her journey; watercolor, black and grey, ornamental, and realism all find their way into her work. Stacy takes the time to connect with her clients and uses her empathetic abilities to create an ideal piece for their unique story. She gifts her clients with a piece of themselves — an empowering design that goes into a realm of self-discovery.  “A person has energy,” Stacy said.  “I try to find it when I meet with them. I try to ricochet that off in their skin and show others what their aura is.”  Redefining the Tattoo Industry Stacy Smith owns Tattoo Me Charlotte Women are still facing prejudice and hesitation in the majority male industry of tattooing even though, according to Zippia: The Career Expert, 25% of tattooists identify as female. Stacy received pushback from her own community when building Tattoo Me Charlotte. “Nobody believed me,” she said.    Despite her initial struggles, Stacy began to flourish, earning a spot on season 11 of the hit competitive series, Ink Master. Even before her TV debut, she was fully booked because of her unique style and approach.   Stacy is an advocate for women on either side of the tattoo machine. While she believes rules for tattooing should exist, it shouldn’t keep an artist from gifting their client the perfect tattoo. “I feel that tattooists that have a lot of ego forget the vulnerability that their client is feeling,” she said. “You are coming to someone baring your soul. You’ve waited for them for years to get something that speaks to your dreams and desires. You’re going to wear it forever.”   Stacy found that many women come to her wanting a more delicate tattoo. In her experience, these women have faced artists that will not compromise the “bold will hold” rule to achieve a happy medium design for their clients. That’s why she is creating long-lasting relationships with her clients to create a non-judgmental space to return to.  Step into the Inkiverse with Stacy Smith of Tattoo Me Charlotte World Famous Inks Fit for a Goddess  Stacy’s tattoos require a high pigment load and wide color palette to support her vivid designs of fantastical themes. By using World Famous Tattoo Ink, the Nature Goddess has been able to achieve transcendental artistry to fulfill her vision.   “The versatility, especially in [World Famous’s] color palettes, is unmatched,” she said. “I often can’t find that range of cool and warm tones. So, I really love what World Famous gives you on each level... “  Ink-spiration from the Nature Goddess  "I don’t know what it is about Strawberry, but I want to put it on everything.”   Want to power your tattoos with the surrealist fantasy of the Nature Goddess? Add a few of Stacy’s favorite inks to your studio.             Shop Strawberry                     Shop Bahama Blue                    Shop Rolls Royce Purple         Shop Bora Bora Peach      Shop Jenna Kerr’s Jenstones Color Set   

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