The Man Behind the ‘Tats: a Conversation with Oberlin’s Newest Tattoo Artist


I sat down with Shawn Patton, owner of the recently opened Trustworthy Tattoos, to talk about his experience and interests. You can check out his bold and colorful work on his Instagram, @shawnpattontattooer.


How did you become a tattoo artist? What is your experience?

I always drew tattoos for friends when they were planning on getting tattooed;

I learned quickly that just because you can draw it on paper doesn't mean it's great to go on the skin. I did that for awhile and worked a normal job, then it was suggested to me, why didn't I tattoo? I looked into it and got a job at a studio. I ended up piercing for 3 years before I learned to tattoo. I didn't go to art school, just 4 years of high school art. I wish I may have furthered my education, but it wasn't necessary. I found that I had an eye for art, even if I didn't realize the things I naturally did had names and were art devices. My strength has always been image composition.

What brings you to Oberlin?

I've always been in the area. I was born at Oberlin Allen memorial, and I graduated from Firelands High School. I was drawn back here as a business owner because of the eclectic nature of Oberlin, a wide array of businesses, people, origins. I like that it's far from cookie cutter.


What's your favorite style or subject to tattoo?

I enjoy more of a traditional americana, that being tattoos that look like tattoos: strong linework, black shading, and bright, unmuddied colors.


What was your first tattoo?

A very poorly tattooed band logo. It has since been covered.

What are your other interests besides tattoo art?


I enjoy art on a whole. I've been lucky to travel for tattooing and I always try to go to art museums when I'm visiting a city. I really enjoyed the Salvador Dalí Museum outside Tampa. History and art history have always fascinated me. I would rather go to an aquarium or museum than a sporting event.

Do you have any advice to students who want to become tattoo artists?


It's a long hard road of total commitment. You should get plenty of tattoos, build

a relationship with a potential mentor, and be prepared to work, work, work. The person teaching you has worked so hard to get where they are, and they will expect the same from you, because tattooing isn't a just a job— it's a lifelong career and lifestyle choice. You're never "off the clock." Your work follows you everywhere. It's a rewarding career choice, but you only get what you put into it!


Trustworthy Tattoo is located on 53 South Main Street. Stop in between 11:00 and 7:00 every Tuesday-Thursday.

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