Monday, March 7, 2016

to the jazz player...(originally posted 10.13.2007)

I walked through Sheffield, England this morning drinking my cappuccino. After a great week of tattooing and painting, a great show at the  London, Tattoo Convention, with the award for "best of show" for Friday and Saturday, and looking forward to an interview for a feature article with the number one selling Tattoo magazine in Europe. I sat down in the city center, and heard the sweetest sounding jazz guitar being played. It a was a guy playing for pocket change on a fender strat through a little practice amp. Here's the thing... I've been playing music for 17 years, I have six guitars, a drum set, a piano and two basses. I've worked at it and never got past mediocre. Here's a guy playing for pocket change... and he'd blow me out of the water, every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Playing for change. He was so good. and playing for change. The thought overwhhelmed me of the "definition of success." I often quote, " There is nothing more common than unsuccessful men with talent." What is success?... Money? Recognition? Fame? Travel? Compliments and ass kissing?... Maybe a little... maybe... All I know is this guy was ten times more successful than I have ever been at playing the guitar. I love playing the guitar. I love writing songs. I have practiced and practiced, and I couldn't do what he was doing today.

Point being... True success can't be measured by the masses, but by that inner voice that says you have done all you can do to reach as far as you can, fulfilling your own full potential... That sounds like a life long journey, doesn't it?

Salvadore Dali said, "A true artist is NOT one who is inspired, but one who inspires others... I encountered a true artist today... playing for change, he changed my life with a few chords and a, "cheers" as I dropped my pocket change into his flimsy guitar case.

To the "jazz player"... thanks,


Monday, January 4, 2016

a common thing.

I've been up since 3am. This happens often. What wakes me up? Nothing, or is it everything? I guess I would say noise wakes me up, but not necessarily the dogs next door, or the ceiling fan that’s slightly off kilter and the little pull chain lightly tapping against the glass lightbulb housing. It’s more of the noise in my head. What if I told you that I can hear my pulse, my breath? I actually think it’s my “mind”. 

Wikipedia says, “A mind /ˈmaɪnd/ is the set of cognitive faculties that enables consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, and memory—a characteristic of humans, but which also may apply to other life forms.” And then it says pages more…

I say, my mind is a brat. I don’t need to define the word “brat”. We all know what one is. My mind likes to brag about everything. Wether its showing me that it can recite the lyrics to a song continuously, recant some segment of a conversation I had yesterday, ponder the deep reaches of space and time, or recall some childhood memory that would otherwise be so inconsequential that it might as well be forgotten, except my mind is jumping up and down in my head screaming, “LOOK WHAT I CAN DO!” My mind will literally wake me up to tell me it can hear the blood pulse through the veins in my head. Where I might be in wonder at its amazing capabilities, I’m actually quite annoyed because I honestly just need to sleep. My body needs sleep, my organs, and in fact my mind itself in all it’s bratty wonder needs to calm the hell down and take a rest, but most nights it doesn’t. Most nights it nervously taps me on the shoulder, whispers in my ear, or just jabs me in the eye. It’s a needy little bragging brat. 

It happens to be best friends with my ego. They love to buddy up and feed each other cake and ice cream then go on a sugar high rampage through my psyche. If you could only see the way they dress up. My mind wears all black and a mask like the “Green Lantern” and my ego of course wears a “Superman” cape. They usually work or (should I say play?) as a team, but often argue as to who gets to be the hero of each act. 

My 2016 new year resolution is to strip or cut away inhibitions. Things that hold me back. A simple example is the fact that putting one’s self “out there” as in sharing inner feelings or opinions of things obviously invites response. For example, if I write a blog, the response may be some people read it and some don’t, some leave a comment and some don’t, some criticize and some agree… but all of those are responses that I inevitably see as measurements of someone else’ opinion of me. That has been a strong inhibitor in my life. The idea that I can share things and not care about the reaction from those who I share with is difficult for me to wrap my head around, but all of this said… I’m going to try yet again, to let go some more and just put it out there. In the end, if someone is inspired to do the same, to share, because they agree, or because they think the world deserves better than what I’m putting out then either way… we all benefit. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A little closer...

It's raining... hard. It's the kind of rain that comes straight down and extra wet. My little koi pond is cresting and the floor in my back room at the shop is soaked and swelling because the the door is level with the alley so the water seeps in. Pretty major fix; we have to clear all the cabinets out, replace the floor, install a new door, and raise the door jam an inch or so. Thousands of dollars I don't have or want to spend on that. Other than that, I like this kind of rain. It slows things down and brings life in a little closer. Being a frequent flyer, (I stopped counting this year after 30 flights I had taken by August) I always think about how the mood changes depending on the weather. Be it fog, rain, snow or whatever, it creates mood like warm lights or candles in the evening, or that cool light that comes in the windows in the morning, and up high enough it's always just bright sun. When you take off in the rain in a commercial airplane you always end up above it all in the beaming sun. Honestly, I prefer the weather. I like the fog, the rain, the mood. I guess I get the feeling its all just an act when I know that up above it all, the sun is as steady and constant as it's always been. We just happen to exist in that ever so thin realm between the clouds and the earth. Lucky us, we get the mood changes, the ambience. So let the curtains close on the scene of fall and open to winter, with the mood of reflection as this year wraps up and I think about how one year ago I was going to the doctor for anxiety, sleeplessness, chronic pain and mild depression, four prescriptions and 29 pounds heavier than I am as of this morning, my doctor said I should try daily exercise for 6 weeks... "Um... yeah... that's not gonna happen doc." too busy, too hard, and exercise is so tiring, ha ha..." He said, "Ok, no problem, heres some meds then." I tried those for a few months, and honestly, they made things worse in my mind, I felt broken, I felt like a mental patient, which I was, I was taking medicine for my moods, my anxiety, my stress and pain, I was mentally "ill" and if that isn't a stressful thought, I'm not sure what is. I'm normal, just like everyone else, we all get a little under the weather physically and mentally, once I acknowledged that it's ok to catch a cold, and it's normal to get a little mentally ill, I decided I'd try and do what you'd do for any sickness. You try and take care of it. I exercise now, since the end of June. I'm off the meds for a few months now. I still take half a xanax at night when I go to bed so my mind doesn't spin out, and I hope to wean myself off that ASAP. I also enjoy some wine most evenings too, but one step at a time right? Heading towards a healthier mindset, it's ironic to me that a healthier mind takes work physically. I've never been one to exercise, ever in my life until this year, and now I wish I had my whole life. I feel better physically and mentally. I still stress out, I still get anxious, I still have a restless night now and then but not nearly as bad as a year ago. I started with just stretching for ten min in the morning and maybe ten pushups and fifteen sit ups. In June I tried running at the track and couldn't even run a full lap. Now, I'm mtn biking, circuit training, learning how to box... I can do 150 burpees and five hundred jumping jacks and I'm leaving tomorrow morning to run my first half marathon with a hurt foot and jacked up knees, but whatever, I'll hobble it if I have to. I only say these things as an encouragement to anyone reading that feels defeated, depressed, or otherwise discouraged about themselves. We all go through that. I've met a couple people that seem generally just happy and satisfied with themselves and I envy them, but that's not normal... normal is us, stressed, moody, people that have their struggles, whatever they are... I didn't expect this blog to go this direction, but it is what it is, and again, I am where I'm at, so... guess I'll just enjoy the mood of this wet rainy day, and take some Aleve for my knees and foot. I hope you can enjoy the mood of wherever you're at, and take a step towards a healthier you, be it mentally, physically, or both.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Been a while...

It's been a long time since I have posted anything. I've been busy and pretty overwhelmed with life like most people. I think about blogging almost daily but never feel like there's much to say. I've been told I'm nihilistic but I don't think I'm quite to that level. I do believe we should try to live by standards and morals and though we fall short, we should still try. Honestly, I do struggle with the "What's the point?" attitude often. Painting, art, tattoos, yard work, exercise, whatever you do with your time. I was told by an older friend of mine who has a doctorate degree, is very very successful in business, and is always busy with hobbies, trips, etc., when he was accused of being a work-a-holic by some of his family, he replied, "I do the things I do because I enjoy it."

Most of the time I can stay in that frame of mind; I do the things I do because I enjoy it. I enjoy the feeling of accomplishment after cleaning up my back yard leaves, or signing a fresh painting, or wiping clean a new tattoo on a client. Life is what it is and I am where I'm at in my life. Instead of wondering about the unknown or wanting what I don't have, like extra time in the day, I need to try and enjoy the moment, as cliché as that sounds.

Anyway, I have to get to work... Hopefully this is the first of many blog posts to come in the near future.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


112 Cottage Street

Easthampton, MA 01027



Off the Map Tattoo Expanding to Grants Pass, Oregon

Off the Map Tattoo and Jeff Gogue will be joining forces to open a second location in Grants Pass, Oregon. Jeff Gogue will continue to tattoo and lead workshops as the head resident tattoo artist, but in March of 2012 the location will reopen as a rebranded Off the Map Tattoo. Off the Map Tattoo Grants Pass will mirror the original studio and main office in Easthampton, Massachusetts. This will include tattoo-savvy customer service, additional resident artists, and scheduled monthly guest artists - having many notables already setting dates. With Off the Map Tattoo handling the management of the studio, Jeff will be able to focus on what he loves the most: working hard to create and inspire around other like-minded artists.

Jeff Gogue started tattooing in 1999 and has not looked back since. Jeff is now being recognized with worldwide acclaim and shares his techniques in tattooing and painting through various seminars and instructional DVDs. Jeff continually strives for excellences in every venture that he pursues, and takes heed to the power of self-worth and one's duty to share whatever can be offered. “…..,” says Jeff about the partnership.

Off the Map Tattoo was established in 2005 with the goal of creating a professional, sterile, educational environment for artists and collectors alike. Now in its sixth year, Off the Map Tattoo is home to four full time resident artists and attracts forty plus guest artists from around the world annually, it is safe to say that that goal is being lived out. Also, Off the Map Tattoo hosts the Paradise Tattoo Gathering (, Paradise Artist Retreat (, and houses the offices of TattooNOW (

All in all, with the combination of Off the Map Tattoo’s proven business plan and Jeff Gogue’s drive to create and facilitate inspiration, Off the Map Tattoo Grants Pass is the perfect match. Visit for daily news updates and for Jeff Gogue’s portfolio.


Mary Bowen – Studio Manager @ Off the Map Tattoo


(413) 527-6574

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rome.... after the conference...

It’s 4 am on October 25th 2011. I’m in the airport in Rome and my body is tired. I just spent three days with a small group of friends speaking at a conference about staging a rebellion against mediocrity in our field; art and tattoos. I find myself saying it in separate terms though I don’t see the separation. Tattooing is a form of art of course, but the trade of tattooing has meandered through the avenues of the average and the common for most of it’s modern existence. Rome. What an appropriate place in the world to do such a thing. Surrounded by the epitome of high standards in art and dedication to one’s craft. As I walked through the streets; the humorous attempts by vendors to sell trinkets made in china, bobble headed pope statues, disco style hand held laser pointers, and plastic miniatures of the colosseum reminded me that the majority of the population remains in the realm of the average and the addicted to mediocrity. Graffiti and trash were everywhere obnoxiously stating that so many people consume and discard, rather than contribute and nurture.

I’m sitting here with a headache from the two hours sleep I struggled through since I haven’t been here long enough to get over the jet lag yet I’m heading back home already. I often find myself sort of reveling in being tired. In my case it’s more often the result of being somewhere in the world that most people would say is a trip of a lifetime. I find myself routinely resolving as the plane takes off; that if it goes down in flames, I am satisfied that I have had many many trips of a lifetime, and that my family and friends will know that I tried with all my heart, to live well, to experience more, and to inspire others to do the same.

My friend (Nick Baxter) was one of the other guest speakers this weekend. I have known him for years and worked alongside him often around the world. I had the privilege of attending his seminar and it is as the rumors have it; it is life changing. He is one of the few people I know that shares the the stage of the exceptional, intriguing and inspiring individuals among the masses. Alex Depase, of Italy also ignited a new drive in me to reach for higher ground personally, artistically, and professionally. I was honored to share the stage with Nick, Alex, the world class tattooer, Boris of Hungary and business leader Gabe Ripley of Tattoo Now and The Paradise tattoo gathering. This was an unprecedented event in the tattoo community. Not open to the public, or to people tattooing; it was a true conference for artists to be challenged to step up to the next level in many facets. I am honored and grateful to be one of the people who got to share my thoughts, perspective and insight, and I feel especially grateful for the immediate return of insight, inspiration, and education I received myself. If you get a chance to attend any event like this in the future, I suggest you do what it takes to make that a reality.

I put together a quick very candid video from the trip just as a small reminder for me. I'd like to share it with you.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tattoo Jam, Doncaster UK 2011

I want to thank the staff of Tattoo Jam for their incredible hospitality and support at this year's show, especially Editor: Sion Smith, Events Manager Shelley Bond, and Managing Director Stuart Mears! You all are awesome and great to work with. The Venue was super cool, clean and easy to get around. the people attending and working were all cool, kind and great to meet and be around. I got to do a painting Demo with Jason Butcher, Lianne Moule, Jesse Smith, and Nikko Hurtado! Nikko and I painted from a live model, in front of hundreds of people sitting three feet behind us... nerve-racking! Jesse did an amazing monk painting! Jason did an awesome green skull and Lianne did a beautiful bird, (Didn't get photos) The paintings are being auctioned for charity through Skin Deep Magazine! Such and Honor. All the artists attending the show were inspiring and made me want to come home and work harder. I finally got to meet Chris Crooks in person and deliver his painting, he also purchased the colaboration I did with Jason Butcher. I had the privilege of winning "Best International Artist" which was so cool! Thank you all for the support! I got to tattoo some old friends, do a new piece and do a figure study along side my good friend Nikko the last night. Great time! Great show! Again, to the staff and help of Skin Deep, Tattoo Master, and Tattoo Jam.... Cheers! You guys rock!

p.s. Thanks for letting me be the "staff photographer" at the end;)