Hash Williams has been a tattoo artist in the Central Florida area for over a decade. Despite falling on hard times throughout his years, Hash has persevered — pushing the dedication to his work further. Having admired Hash’s work from afar, I recently got a chance to sit down with him and discuss his life, his work, and how he sees the industry. Take a look!
First, please tell us a little about yourself. Who are you, where can we find you, and how long
have you been tattooing?
Hey, I’m Hash or Darth Hash if you prefer Ha! I’m a bit of a colossal geek. I work at Best Tattoos Collective in Altamonte Springs Fl and I’ve been tattooing for 10 years.
What drew you to the world of tattooing? Can you remember exactly when you realized this was
the career for you?
Honestly, it started as a way to pay bills. I was out of work and a state away when this journey started. It wasn’t until I was in a shop and people started to take notice of me and my work that I realized this was me, that this was my path. I commemorated that day by getting the top of my head tattooed. I remember the guy who did it asked me a few times if this is what I wanted and then after it was done informed me I was in this game for life.
Do you have a specific style that you specialize in? If not, do you have a favorite?
No, no specific style but I love bright color. Where I come from you have to be well rounded as you never know whats going to walk in the door. But big, smooth transitions get me hot and bothered. So Neo-Traditional, New School, and even realism I would consider favorites.
When it comes to your artwork, do you have formal training? If yes, where and what did you
So while I was still married I attended Full Sail University for an Associate of Science Degree in Computer Animation. I really loved compositing but we also took classes in Perspective. When I left, the Perspective instructors kept a good portion of my work to use as examples of what to do. Kind of wish I had kept it so I could look back and see the journeys beginning.
Prior to becoming a tattoo artist, did you apprentice? If yes, was it a formal apprenticeship in the
traditional sense? If no, how did you learn?
Unfortunately no. So, I was 29, I had a live-in girlfriend and I lost my job. This was the moment I figured I would take that step into Tattooing. People had been telling me for a while I should learn to tattoo so I went out to the local shops in my area and tried to find an apprenticeship, but, they wanted me to pay them $5,000 dollars to basically learn nothing. I knew this because in my search I ran across too many people with horror stories from the very shops I was going to.
Basically, I didn’t have that kind of cash so I did what any sane person would do…said screw it, bought myself a crappy kit on eBay and started torturing various fruits. I taught myself. I learned everything I could about machines, I would watch videos I could find on the internet of artists working and would try and break down what they were doing. Then my roommate at the time volunteered to be my practice dummy. Now I know what you are thinking…and you are right. I
was a straight up scratcher and my work…those first tattoos were garbage…but it got me in my first shop at the age of 30 and I’ve been tattooing ever since.
What is your take on apprenticeships? Do you feel they are important or do you believe they are
an aged practice?
Considering how I learned you would think that I would be against any sort of traditional apprenticeship but actually, I’m all for traditional apprenticeships. That being said I also have to state not everyone can learn and not everyone can teach. Apprenticeships, if done right, teaches the very colorful history of Tattooing and a very real respect for its traditions along with the proper way to work from setup to completion. But I also feel there are way too many young cats in this
industry who have zero respect for the trade and most of these cats have been through an apprenticeship. That’s not a jab at their work. There are some guys and gals whose work is mind-blowing but they are jackasses.
Skill-wise they [apprenticeships] are absolutely necessary considering, in a traditional apprenticeship, you can learn in a year what it took me two to teach myself. It shouldn’t be treated as a quick way to make cash, though, because it will show. As an artist, the concept of an apprentice should be a way for you, the artist, to pass on the legacy of this craft so its preserved. Instead, we get the Tattoo equivalent of a youtube star…big today…forgotten tomorrow. I legitimately fear that the Industry has fallen too far to save it from the guys who come in and just wipe their asses with the trade.
What is your opinion on the current regulations in the industry? Do you believe they are
adequate? Do you believe they are enforced properly?
Honestly, I feel like they aren’t enforced really by the health department. So you open a shop, they send someone who regulates the food industry to inspect your shop…and they have no clue what they are looking for. This isn’t a food establishment and you would think the state would hire at least one inspector that is trained in our industry that knows our ins and outs to do our inspections. So honestly while the law licenses us, we are really self-regulatory. All the health
department really does is walk through every 6 months to a year, point out a few things that may or may not be an actual issue and then it’s see ya next time. Like seriously, when a health inspector picks up a bottle of ink to check it out do they actually know what they are looking for or are they just checking the date? I’ve had health inspectors literally just glance over everything and move on. I don’t know, I just get the impression that they are not as knowledgeable about our trade as
we are and they should be just as knowledgeable.
Do you travel on the convention circuit at all or do you stay in your home-shop?
I have done a convention or two in the local area but I don’t feel my client base is large enough to really make conventions profitable. I want to travel more, I want to work conventions abroad because they are a blast, you meet so many people in this industry and hear so may tales. The few conventions I’ve worked and attended I’ve made some awesome friends in the industry. I want to work more and hopefully, I will in the future
Aside from tattooing, do you do any other mediums of art?
Yes, I have more than a handful of mediums I work in. I paint, I really enjoy landscapes, I sculpt clay, do leather work, carve wood, carve stone, I make movie props, Video game replica props and I build models. I really want to get a 3D Printer to take my craft game to a whole new level and If I get the chance I would love to learn blacksmithing, I think it would be awesome to make hand forged tattoo machine frames.
You’ve had some bumps in the road in your adult life—finding yourself divorced and homeless for
a period of time—do you find that this adversity helped or hindered you in your artwork?
No, it pushed me to get here and it keeps pushing me. There is the moment, you are standing in the aisle of a grocery store and you are stealing hot dogs because you haven’t eaten in a few days, you are broke and the life you had is gone. You realize that you have become the very guy you used to turn your nose up at not even a year earlier and you have to really ask yourself if this is how you want to live. Some people it breaks and they stay broken. For me it was motivation. I had to be better today than I was yesterday and that pushed me to just keep on moving forward. It affected my life and my artwork is a reflection of that ever evolving journey.
Rotary or coil?
Both actually. I’m loyal to the coil for my lines and for blocking out solid color but I use rotary for color blending and soft shading.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers about yourself or your work?
Well, they can find me on Instagram as @darthhash or on Facebook at facebook.com/tattoosbyhash. I will talk to anyone about anything, be it a tattoo you may be looking to get or just to shoot the shit. So swing by, give me a follow and drop me a line. I look forward to hearing from you guys!