Local tattoo artist, Wooddy, is known for his exceptional fine-line tattooing and colorful original art. He is based at Faithful & True Tattoo in Downtown Fresno, and has a waitlist 9+ months long. In addition to being well-known locally, he’s recently found full-on viral fame with his hilarious, punny-humored, tattoo-focused, skits on TikTok. He was gracious enough to take the time to share his story with us at FresYes. You’re not going to want to miss this – you won’t believe how his tattoo career began!
FresYes: The name Wooddy – your actual name? What people have called you for ages? And, are you from the Fresno area originally?
Wooddy: So, as it turns out, “Wooddy” is actually my last name. It is a long-standing tradition that the men in the Wooddy family eventually drop their first name and just go by Wooddy. My Dad is Wooddy, His Dad was Wooddy, my brother and my distant cousins are all also just Wooddy. It’s an old joke that if you called my house and asked, “Is Wooddy there?” the only person that wouldn’t come to the phone is the dog.
As far as if I’m from Fresno, I like to tell people I’m from The Valley. I have lived all over CA, as far south as San Diego and as far north as Sac, but I’ve spent most of my life in the Central Valley. I did most of my schooling in the Fresno/Clovis area, until I relocated up to Modesto area to finish out High School.
Fresno has always been my favorite place to live. This is where I’ve made most of my friends, met my wife, and laid down roots. The summers are hot, but we’re just a short drive from respite in the mountains or at the beach.
FresYes: I’ve been following you on Instagram since you were recommended to me by a fellow artist, Hannah Evans, for your expertise in fine line work – and your talent is obvious to anyone who peruses your profile. How long have you been tattooing, and how did you get your start?
Wooddy: First off, let’s give credit where it is due. Hannah Evans is one of the most talented and humble artists I have ever gotten the pleasure to work with. I think I got extremely lucky that my tattooing was on her radar, and that she felt confident in sending anyone my way. I used to get very excited whenever she opened her bookings up, because it almost always meant that I would be receiving an onslaught of new clients recommended by her.
When I was eighteen (now thirty) I was getting tattooed very regularly by one artist. Him and I grew a friendship over the hours spent together, and I eventually gathered the courage to ask him how I would go about getting into tattooing. He knew I was an artist and had seen (been forced to see by myself) some of the work I was regularly making, so I was lucky not to be laughed out of there.
He gave me some of the most questionable advice: just buy a tattoo machine and start practicing on my friends at home. Let me just say, if anyone EVER asked me how to become a tattooer, this would be the last advice I would give. But his word was gospel for me, and I started looking into machines immediately.
As soon as the tattoo machine came in the mail, I was off to the races. The very first tattoo I did went absolutely terribly. Terrible enough that a few years later it would be featured on a hit TLC television show called Tattoo Nightmares. This could have the effect of breaking most people’s spirits, but I didn’t let it slow me down. As one of my side projects at the time, I would design and sell merchandise for a local underground Fresno rock band, so once I told the band (along with our friends) that I had bought a tattoo machine, I had a line out the door of people ready to let me practice on them.
After the questionable practice of tattooing friends at home, I eventually got a formal tattoo apprenticeship five or so years later. After a year or so of that, I finally became a full time tattooer. As of recently I have celebrated 4 years as a full time tattooer, along with the 10-year anniversary of the episode of tattoo nightmares. Because of that show, I am allowed to tell my clients that my tattoo work has been featured on television.
FresYes: Have you always been a creative person? Besides tattooing, you also create art prints – are there other creative endeavors you engage in, either for business or pleasure?
Wooddy: My earliest memories involve me creating art. Every year for Christmas and my birthday I would receive one of those 151-piece art briefcases and a pack of printer paper. It was a gift that I always knew was coming, and it never once lost its excitement.
I am incredibly fortunate to have a father that has unconditionally supported my art. My dad comes from an extremely conservative military family, and he himself holds a lot of the same values. Regardless of any of that, my artistic pursuits and happiness always outweighed all. When I first wanted to get into street art, he took me to Wal-Mart and signed for me to pick up as many fifty-cent spray cans as I could carry. When I told him I wanted to get into tattooing, it was him that got me the tattoo machines as a Christmas gift. After closing the chapter on my last business venture and deciding what my next plan was, it was my Dad that told me if I was going to be a tattooer, he wanted me to be the best one I could be.
Other than tattooing, I have dabbled in virtually every other artistic medium. Over quarantine of 2020, I started a project that would end up keeping me and my wife afloat while I wasn’t allowed to work. I had the idea to combine the two worlds of tattooing and street art. I made designs that were common tattoo designs and painted them with spray paint. I would make a new design daily and sell them on my Instagram. By the time of the project’s completion, I had made over 200 unique paintings.
FresYes: Though it’s always been popular among many people, tattoos seem to be exploding in popularity across age and interest groups, and it seems that artists are in higher and higher demand – how has that been to manage for you?
Wooddy: Tattooing is currently in its golden age. Social media has made it easier for clients to find the right artist for their idea and getting in touch with the artist is usually just a click away. This has led to artists being able to focus on the work that they want to be creating and leading to them perfecting their craft. With the process getting easier, the art getting significantly better, and society finally coming around to their acceptance, tattooing is finally a respected art.
But as the old idiom goes, there can be too much of a good thing. I regularly have to let perspective clients know that the wait time for an appointment currently exceeds 9 months, and this regularly leads to people being upset with me. We live in a culture that wants things now, and doesn’t like to be told to wait. Hell, I don’t like being told to wait either!
I have always looked at tattooing as a business, and because of that, I am always experimenting with ways to make my process easier. If you asked 100 tattooers what they thought about booking appointments, you would have 120 tattooers tell you how much they hate it. It can be a very stressful part of tattooing, but I think technology will eventually find a way to ease the process.
FresYes: With tattooing being more popular than ever before, you’ve also taken the leap to begin creating related content for TikTok within the past six weeks, and frankly it seems your video production skills and punny humor are up there with your ink skills, as you’ve quickly gone viral with over 200K followers and 3.6 million likes – not to mention people are requesting to use your art across the world!
How has THAT been? And, how has this affected booking for you?
Wooddy: Let’s talk about Tiktok! I finally caved in and downloaded the app late last year and promptly looked up the tattoo creators. I quickly realized that there was a large void in the “tattooers that don’t take themselves too seriously” department — and I quickly filled that void.
I had the idea to parody a client giving me creative freedom on their tattoo, without realizing just how bad of an idea that was. This led to the creation of the “Unicorndog” video. I genuinely made the video thinking it would be a fun skit that my clients and I would talk about for the next few weeks, but it ended up going wild.
I had a few more ideas rattling around in my brain, so I wrote them down, shot the scenes, and put the next video up a week later. The momentum has only gone up from there. I have said in all of my videos that if anyone wants the artwork from the video tattooed on them, that I will supply the artwork for free, for them to take to their local artist. I figure, I can’t tattoo everyone, so why not supply that service to anyone interested in my artwork.
I made another video where the punchline was me showing a piece of art of a daisy with “Whoopsie” written in the stem, which I exclaimed was a “Whoopsie Daisy.” This has led to people all over the world (literally all the way in Japan and Australia!) getting the Whoopsie Daisy tattoo done by their local artists. I receive messages every day from people that have gotten it done, and some publications are referring to it as “The Internet’s Matching Tattoo.”
FresYes: What’s ultimately next on the horizon for you? If all of your wildest career dreams came true, what would the next ten years look like?
Wooddy: I write my goals down first thing every morning. I break them down into daily goals, monthly goals, and yearly goals. I have always been a dreamer and I can be relentless when I have my mind set to getting something done.
My simple goals are to continue to grow my following. I really enjoy making content, and I have a healthy backstock of ideas that I like to refine regularly. My more extreme goals involve renting warehouse space and starting a print making business for art prints and merchandising, which, as I stated before, is a former hobby and passion of mine.
I would also like to spend a whole summer traveling the U.S. with my wife and tattooing out of as many shops that will have me.
But more than anything I would love to eventually do a group art show with some of my favorite Fresno artists. I have a style of art that I don’t get to show all that often, that I think is one of the best representations of who I am as an artist and individual. I don’t show it very often because it is very much like publishing your diary for everyone to come and see, and that isn’t any fun unless your friends are there with you doing the same.
FresYes: Anything else you’d like our readers to know, that I haven’t asked about?
Wooddy: I am married to the most wonderful and supportive woman on this earth. She is the reason I am able to get any of the stuff done that I do. She handles the back end of the website, shipping and receiving, customer complaints, as well as putting up with me and all of my exhausting ideas.
I am a father to two cats. Their names are Moms (9) and Pops (3) and they are my other two favorite living things.
I work out of a fantastic tattoo shop called Faithful and True Tattoo in Downtown Fresno, and I have the pleasure of working with some of my favorite artists and humans.
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