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.
“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.”
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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