From Teacher To Tattooer, We Get The Lowdown On Todd Showdown
"Like many artists, my life has been filled with some difficult trauma. I couldn't be more thankful that my coping mechanism gets to be my job."
With a long history of artistic endeavors- college art instructor, professional musician, internationally recognized painter- Todd Showdown brings his own unique artistic influences, passion, and style to breathe new life into the timeless and classic style of Neo- Traditional tattooing. While he pays homage to the "norms" of the traditional style: bold lines, an illustrative look, highly saturated modern colors, and a feeling of dimension without being exaggerated, Todd's interpretation involves brilliant and dramatic colors, combined with unexpected details to make it his own. We chatted with the accomplished artist about how he got into tattooing, what inspires his work and how a text to a wrong number changed his life.
Name: Todd Showdown
Nickname(s): Todd Showdown
Shop: Heart and Skin Tattoo Studios, Fort Collins
Years Tattooing: 7
Style/Specialty: New West Traditional/ Post Traditional
Drink of choice: Axe and the Oak
What would you be doing professionally if you weren’t a tattooer?
Most likely still teaching! But, I do think I'd make a good barber!
Do you have any hidden talent(s)?
I have a near perfect memory! (No lie) One could name a holiday and a year of my life and I most likely could recall exactly where I was, who I was with and what I was wearing, instantly.
What’s in rotation on your playlist right now?
I'm loving the new “Oh Wonder” album! Bon Iver, and Sufjan Stevens are always on rotation too.
Speaking of music, you were formerly a recording artist with Tooth & Nail Records, can you tell us about that experience?
I used to play music that was faith driven. Since I no longer identify with a religion, the most positive experience I took from my music was open mindedness towards others and their own life paths.
What made you want to get into tattooing?
During grad school I was asked to apprentice by a tattoo shop owner nearby my college. I hesitantly took the position. In just a few months, I ran into Guy Aitchison at a local coffee shop. I introduced myself and talked for a while. We departed. A few months later, I was texting a client to reschedule her tattoo appointment and I mistyped her number. I got a response saying, “You’ve got the wrong number. This is Guy.” I didn't think there was an inkling of a chance that I could have accidentally picked out 10 random digits that belonged to the stranger/celebrity I just met. So I brushed it off. A few months after this, I graduated and took a job at Morthland college. I was visiting Stockholm, when I got a text from the number I had mistyped, saying: “ We’d like to invite you to a Hyperspace painting party at my studio…” I replied, “Is this GUY Aitchison?” He said yes and gave me the invitation. I returned home, painted with other artists on Guy’s property and turned in my resignation to the college just three weeks after accepting the job. I took it as a sign that I should give myself solely to learning how to tattoo.
First tattoo you ever got?
A chinese symbol that means twins! My brother, who was in his rebellious stage, pressured me into it.
Do you have any tattoos you regret? (Getting or giving)
During my apprenticeship a smudge in a stencil fooled me into tattooing 6 toes on a baby footprint design! I spent the next 5 days in bed. Having nowhere else to go, I faced the brutal local facebook tattoo hate groups and resumed learning. The ass chewing my boss gave me was the greatest lesson I ever learned and I completely honor my mistakes.
What’s the strangest / most unique tattoo request you’ve gotten?
To cover over a golf ball sized tracheotomy hole with a heart. I ended up turning down the project after thinking of having to wipe ink splatters out of his neck hole.
What is your favorite part about being a tattoo artist, and what is the most challenging?
I enjoy having the opportunity to be authentically myself. I get to spend every day making art for my friends. Like many artists, my life has been filled with some difficult trauma. I couldn't be more thankful that my coping mechanism gets to be my job. Tattooing is how I connect to G-d.
What kind of changes have you seen with tattoo trends over the years and what’s been the worst one(s), in your opinion?
It’s difficult for me to see some shops continue to have a low standard of teaching for their apprentices. Simple Rotary machines and other technologies have made trendy styles of tattooing pretty ubiquitous. It would be my hope that more specialized teaching is made standard for those who want to learn.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I use very specific ratios and geometry in my designs. I borrow these ideas from nature, because it tends to design in a ratio of 1:1.68 . It’s my hope that the wearer of my work will start to question why the human body was created in these ratios as well. And whatever conclusion they come to, be it God, or a series of random accidents in nature, I hope that it brings them a very deep appreciation for themselves.