Today we’d like to introduce you to Rinel Tabamo.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Hmm, it’s hard to describe how I got started without going off into random tangents. There is a bunch of stuff that had to be pieced together for me to be where I am at.
But to keep this story short, one of my cousins used to be married to this tattooer, Angel Cruz. When I was around 19 years old, I asked him a few times if he could teach me, but he kind of brushed me off. He did a tattoo on me and I asked how he learned how to draw portraits. He pointed to all the books he owned and that made a big impression on me. A year later, I made this Facebook status, “Who actually likes their job?.” He commented, “I don’t even consider mine one.” I remember that to this day.
Tattooing was something that sporadically showed up in my life, but I never actually gave it too much thought.
Fast forward to when I turned 21. I was at the local library grabbing books that I thought could help influence a career in art and building my skills in some sort of trade. I posted a photo of the books on Instagram and he commented, “We are looking for apprentices at the shop. Call the shop, ask for an interview and come in with your portfolio.”
At this point in my life, I was in mid-semester at a community college, had a CNA certificate, and also received an acceptance letter to go to School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). I dropped everything. It felt like a very urgent moment for me to just show up to this interview. I stopped attending classes and gathered my portfolio. My paintings at the time had nothing to do with tattoo art, but I had to come in with something. I went in and there were other people applying. The owner looked at my portfolio and was not impressed to say the very least. It was bad haha. Angel came by and said “I hope you guys know what you’re getting yourself into. It’s not going to be easy.” I got the apprenticeship the next day. I think I only got it because Angel vouched for me.
Fast forward to today. I am obsessed with my job! I absolutely love it. I look forward to going to work every day. I think about work even on my off days. Even when I am tired from work, it’s not the feeling of lethargy, I get the feeling of accomplishment. Tattooing is what gives fulfillment to my life.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I apprenticed for two years and I’d say that it was the worst 2 years of my life. Like I said, my mentor, Angel, warned me about how it wasn’t going to be easy. But, I had no idea how much my life would change. It literally happened overnight. It was so abrupt.
I worked part-time at the mall and went to the tattoo apprenticeship right after for the first year. An apprenticeship is being at bottom of the totem pole. I had to clean the bathrooms, mop the floors, order everyone’s food, grab everyone’s coffee, clean everyone’s station, scrub tattoo tubes and piercing tools, write notes, did drawing assignments, help all clients that came in, get yelled at if I did anything wrong or if someone just had a bad day. I worked with an interesting crowd to say at the very least. I would get out of my apprenticeship at around three in the morning or at times, I’d get out at like 5 AM. Almost got fired at one point. I often questioned if I was built for the industry haha. I can laugh at it now just because it’s over.
It sucked, but I appreciate it all now. I am lucky for it. There’s a lot of moments where you think those experiences are just irrelevant. You wish that you could avoid it all completely. But once you get through it, you become thankful. It’s the struggles in life that build character. I persevered and wear these scars like medals now. I think these are the stories that we are meant to have to be successful. You don’t deserve the success without the struggle.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Rhyno at Tattoo Boulevard – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
I am an artist at Tattoo Boulevard and one of the few people in Chicago that specializes in Japanese tattooing. I can do a bunch of other styles like American Traditional, black & grey, neo-traditional, and illustrative; but I am more proficient in Japanese style tattoos. I obsess over it.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
Overall, I want to do more back pieces and bodysuits. I want to achieve the most classic style that will never look outdated. I’m always striving to make my work look more powerful every time. I just want to be sought for if someone wants to get that kind of work done.
Big changes… I do want to buy a house in like five years or so. I want to get married and have that kind of life too. There’s a good balance between work life and family life. It’s another area in life that makes me feel fulfilled and shouldn’t be neglected.
I’ve considered opening up a shop in ten years but it’s not something I’m particularly invested in. I’m always back and forth about wanting that kind of responsibility or not.
- $100 deposit (non-refundable)
- Address: Tattoo Boulevard
4835 N. Elston Ave.
Chicago, IL. 60630
- Website: www.rhynotattoo.com
- Phone: 1 (773)-481-1108
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @rhyno_108
Luke Catalan (@ltc_company) for the personal photo