The Art of Unintentional Bonds
Larry Wayne, a Legacy Irons tattoo artist, sat down with YES!
Weekly to talk about the path that led him to permanently etching art into the skin of others. Wayne, noticeably nervous and chain-smoking cigarettes he has “been meaning to give up,” stayed humble and genuine throughout the conversation. The fact that Legacy Irons has made it into YES! Weekly more than once is a nod to the humble artists and their talents.
I’m probably not allowed to say if I have a favorite tattoo artist in Greensboro. But if I was I think I would say Larry Wayne, and honestly it has little to do with his tattooing and everything to do with his personality.
Wayne, born and raised in the southwest suburbs outside of Chicago, moved to Greensboro seven years ago. Wayne said he enjoyed a constant internal soundtrack even as a young child, and so performing in different bands throughout his life comes as no surprise.
It seems once musicians cross paths there is an internal ‘click’ that happens; this bond artists form unintentionally. That exact bond happened with Wayne and Nate Hall, owner of Legacy Irons.
“Nate was in a kick ass band called Priority One at the time,” Wayne said. “We all became good buddies and then after a while I moved down here for tattooing, cause Nate told me he would teach me how to tattoo.” Wayne was tattooing out of a house in Chicago, “which most people wouldn’t admit to, but ya’ know. I would send my pictures of the tattoos I did to Nate and he would just be like ‘Oh man that fucking sucks, that looks awful,'” Wayne says laughing. “Looking back they were terrible.”
Wayne seemed to just stumble upon a tattoo machine, never trying to make money, just genuinely interested in the art. As a trained EMT out of Chicago, after three years Wayne realized the job just wasn’t for him. Reflecting back Wayne says, “the two jobs are very different, our bad days as tattooers and their bad days are way different. If I have a bad day it’s because I’m having trouble drawing something, rather than I cracked this persons rib giving them CPR.”
Hanging out and working in different shops, Wayne then got a job at Straight Eight in Asheboro, which doubled as more of his working apprenticeship.
“I couldn’t call it an apprenticeship because what (Legacy Iron’s tattoo artist Mitchell Willard) went through for the past two and a half years, he got it really hard. He’s done now and doing nice tattoos, he deserves it definitely,” Wayne said, giving credit to one of his colleagues at Legacy Irons.
Learning like a fly on the wall rather than in a grueling apprenticeship obviously worked. Wayne’s work speaks for itself, and he constantly is honing his talents. “I mean, even now I would hope all good tattooists learn something every day,” Wayne said. When the time came to work at Nate’s new shop, Legacy Irons on McGee Street in Downtown Greensboro, “he saw that I was improving, and I loved the guys at my old shops but I moved down here to work with Nate, so it was a better fit for me.”
Wayne has been at Legacy Irons for over three years now and also plays in the shop’s band, Old Heavy Hands. Being in such a cozy shop with co-workers, bandmates and his “only friends” sometimes does cause tensions to rise, but it’s nothing the guys can’t handle. “It’s definitely”¦ something. There’s no running off to hide in your booth if you’re pissed off, you’ve got to confront that situation as it’s happening,” Wayne said.
Wayne writes about half the songs Old Heavy Hands performs. “It’s weird,” Wayne said. “I have this constant soundtrack playing in my head, and I always have. Since I was a little kid, it’s not always a song, it’s just melodies and I feel like I can tap into that. There are so many parallels between tattooing and song writing for me.”
There is a social shift happening in the land of tattoos and Wayne thinks it has changed for the better. “I feel like a soccer mom could walk into Legacy Irons and be comfortable, and to me that’s awesome, especially now that I’m a parent,” Wayne said. “I like our lil’ homey shop.” The shop itself is full of tattoo culture, from the internal knowledge each artist has, to the plethora of books Hall keeps stocked in the back.
Wayne’s partner, Laura Murphy, is a tattoo artist at Little Johns shop off Gate City Boulevard. Wayne’s entire life seems to revolve around art and music. Their daughter, four-year-old Cecilia, is always front and center at her dad’s shows, singing and dancing. “Well she comes to the more subdued shows, she loves it, and she always dances. We took her to see Old Crow Medicine show and she danced the entire time, it was awesome,” Wayne said.
There should be something said for the act of raising your children with so much culture and art surrounding them. “It’s awesome to raise my daughter in that kind of household,” Wayne said. “And it’s awesome for me because it makes me want to be the best that I can be, for her sake. So she can say my dad kicks ass, and to be a strong role model for her to do that stuff in her own life. She doesn’t have to play music or be a tattoo artist but whatever she wants to do I want her to feel she can do it fully, all the way”¦and honestly.”
Wayne’s soul is showing, and it obviously is full of love, art and this strong tie to his many different families. Unlike many, he does not seem to run in the opposite direction of this compassionate attribute, he lets it fuel him. !