Legacy Irons: The Art in Family
“Some people chose tattooing and sometimes tattooing chooses people. And it kind of chose me.” Nate Hall has been tattooing for 11 years. Not only does it show in his work, but when he speaks on tattooing and Legacy Irons, the shop he owns, his passion and drive are still present. Alongside Nate, the shop consists of Larry Wayne, David Self, Mitchell Willard and Mike Capone.
Becoming a great tattoo artist, business owner and mentor doesn’t happen overnight. Hall was born and raised in Elon, but once he turned 18 he was out of there, living in Wilmington for a little while playing in punk rock bands and hanging out in tattoo shops.
“I toured the country and raised hell for a long time and that’s actually how I met Larry. He was in a band and they were passing through and they stayed at my house and we just become good friends.”
Hall apprenticed at Devoted Tattoo for about a year and a half, and once that shop closed Hall did his own thing for a while.
“I had always drawn and painted and stuff and was already pretty heavily tattooed. I didn’t really search it out, my roommate at the time was a tattooer, and he had seen my paintings and sketches and asked me ‘have you ever really thought about tattooing?’ “ Hall learned a lot of his tattooing from Dave Kruseman and Sean Crowfoot.
“At that time I never really had thought about being a tattoo artist. I was a punk, a dirty punk rocker; I didn’t give a shit about that. Why was I thinking about making money for? I ended up doing an apprenticeship and it just kinda put the bug in my head.”
Could anyone be a tattoo artist? Opening your own shop, learning new methods, and growing as an artist isn’t something that occurs that frequently.
“Tattooing is very much about the technicality. A lot of people don’t give a shit about your art, they just want a good tattoo.
You have to learn the technical side first, then you can venture out and put your art into it and have your style, create your style from that starting point. A lot of people try to go about it backward but you can’t build a house without a good foundation.”
A great example of honing the craft from the start, Hall spoke about an artist in the shop, Mitchell, who was put through the apprentice ringer. “You do all the grunt work”” trash, cleaning, coffee runs, anything””you deal with that and you learn how to take shit and dish it back. You perfect your skills, and grow. Mitchell has done tons of paintings, tons of painting, and his tattoos reflect all that work that was put in.”
Legacy Irons opened five years ago on Market Street, but the foot traffic wasn’t ideal. They have been in the downtown location for three years and loving the geography.
The shop specializes in a lot of American traditional work and Japanese style but that shouldn’t deter people from coming in with different ideas and requests. “I think some people get confused and they think that’s all we do, but man I’ve been tattooing for 11 years, I can do all kinds.”
“I think there are some really good tattooers in Greensboro, which is awesome. They all do different stuff and everybody’s got their own thing. What’s there, like 350,000 people in Guilford County? There are enough good tattoo shops to go around.”
The amount of history and knowledge Hall has on tattooing and how to work at the craft is impressive, yet it’s not thrown in the faces of those who look up to him.
Hall, in addition to running a shop and tattooing, is in a band called ‘Old Heavy Hands,’ which consists of Nate, David and Larry from the shop. The guys are currently wrapping up their first record and will hopefully be playing more shows once they have something to give back. Larry describes the sound as “more alternative country, southern rock with a punk rock backbone.”
Hall said he is constantly practicing, always growing as an artist.
“It involves a lot of drawing at home. I put my kids to bed, hangout with my wife, then go and draw for hours go to bed at four or five in the morning. Oh yeah man it gets old. There are days where I’ve just had enough and I’ll just sleep, but it’s always worth it. I love it.” !
Legacy Irons Tattoo is located at 121 McGee Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. Appointments can be made by calling (336)373-1311 or by emailing LegacyIronsTattooC@gmail.com. Keep up with the action online by following #legacyironstattoo and #nctattooers.