2815 Beaver Avenue, Suite 108
Des Moines, Iowa 50310
FRESHLY INKED: What year did you start tattooing?
PAUL NYCZ: I started tattooing five years ago, in 2007.
How did you get into tattooing?
I first became interested through local hardcore and punk rock shows. Seeing tattoos on band members and record covers by tattooers. One cover that I remember specifically is the Until the End cover art by Grez. I started going to shows as a freshman in high school, about 1996. I was attracted to the rebelliousness of the music and culture, and tattoos were definitely a part of that.
Where did you apprentice?
I apprenticed at Five Point Studios in Des Moines, under Budha—who is a co-owner of the shop I currently work at called Iron Heart, which is also in Des Moines. Although I have no formal training, I have dabbled in hooliganism and troublemaking for many years.
What conventions have you worked at? Have you won any awards? What are some of your best convention memories?
I have worked the St. Louis Old School Tattoo Expo, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Des Moines, Lacrosse, and Chicago. I don’t typically enter the competitions at conventions because they are not that important to me. My best convention memories revolve around gaining the respect of my clients by doing quality work and getting the chance to meet and hang out with other tattooers whose work I admire. Getting to meet good people and putting in a hard day’s work is much more appealing to me than the “party” aspect of conventions.
How do you describe your style?
I describe my style as classic cool. I take traditional American tattoo imagery and put my own spin on it. I hope that through hard work, I will be one of the tattooers that helps to carry on a great tradition.
What inspires you as an artist?
I am inspired by looking at tattoo flash and photographs from the early 1900s to the 1960s. I also like reading about the history in books such as New York City Tattooing: The Oral History of the Urban Art, Bad Boys and Tough Tattoos, and Sailor Jerry Collins: American Tattoo Master.
What sets you apart from other artists?
What I hope will set me apart from other artists is my work ethic, coming into the shop early and staying late, painting daily, constantly trying to refine my craft and doing my best possible work with each client.
What other mediums do you work in?
Making flash sheets and one-off paintings with watercolors.
How have you branched out from tattooing?
My main goal is to constantly refine my tattooing; I don’t want to branch out and become a fine artist or anything like that. I want to keep this at the forefront. I want to constantly learn, take in new information, and keep moving forward with it.
What tattoo artists do you admire most?
My teacher and friend Budha has always been a major influence on me. I have always admired his work and feel fortunate to still be working with him. Other tattooers who have been a major influence are Joshua Bowers, Owen Jensen, Ben Corday, Cap Coleman, Tim Beck, Mario Desa, Nick Colella, Grez, Uzi, all the guys at Smith Street in Brooklyn, and many more.
What kind of tattoos do you look forward to doing?
Skulls, daggers, pinup girls, grim reapers, roses, hearts with banners, panthers, etc. Basically anything based in traditional Americana imagery. The iconic images that immediately come to mind when you hear the word tattoo.
Before someone gets a tattoo what advice do you give them?
Sit back, relax, and breathe. The more you relax the easier it will be for both of us!
Is there a tattoo that you haven’t done yet that you are dying to do?
I am always dying to do grim reapers, and I can never get enough nudie pinup girls on forearms. I’ve done both of them, but I want to do more! Tits, ass, and death never get old.