After nearly 20 years of painting, Phil Myers has found a new canvas: skin.
"My family and friends actually suggested I try tattooing," says Myers, who, at 35, can't remember a time when he wasn't into art. "I thought, 'I can do that,' and walked into a shop and asked someone to teach me."
That was at Pens and Needles Custom Tattoo Co., in 2009. And as Joel Hart remembers, "He had the art, so all I had to do was give him the application."
He started apprenticing under Hart, a fellow Colorado Springs native, and practiced for the first month by tattooing himself. One Japanese character and two Converse All-Star logos later, Myers was putting his permanent mark on local clientele.
Turns out that Myers' realistic style, mostly seen in portraits painted from photographs, incorporated hard edges that easily translate to skin. And he's found that for him, sketching tattoo-prep drawings is no different than sketching the beginning of a painting.
"The medium didn't seem to matter — it's art," he says. "It was like I was meant to do it. I had no fear. My attitude was, whatever I did, I could fix."
It's that kind of mindset that's led Myers, only a year and a half after he began tattooing, to open his own shop and art gallery with Hart. And Saturday night, after nearly four months of business, Ink Inertia will host a one-night-only art exhibit and grand opening celebration.
Though he has little time for painting these days — "I consistently do two to six tattoos a day," Myers says — he will show some of his three- and four-year-old pieces during the opening. (It will also include art from other painters as well as photography.) Some of Myers' work has been featured at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a local medical marijuana dispensary and other businesses, but this will be the first time he's shown any of it since he began tattooing.
At the shop, the works — three of which will be on permanent display — should have the added bonus of helping reassure potential clients. "When they see what the artist is capable of," Hart says, "it opens the doors to what tattoo they want to get."
One who can speak to that is area resident Chris Sirotkin, who admits he was a little nervous discussing a large, detailed piece last February with a tattoo artist who at the time had just six months' experience.
"I was a little sketchy about the whole thing at first," Sirotkin says. "But once I saw the drawing, I wasn't worried. I knew Phil was the right person to do this one."
Sirotkin's rising phoenix tattoo should be complete after two or three more sessions, bringing the grand total to nearly 50 hours of work. Myers' original illustration extends from his subject's shoulder blades to his lower back.
"Phil loves what he does and it shows in his work," says Sirotkin, who also has one of Myers' paintings hanging in his home. "You don't get that from every tattoo artist — or painter, for that matter."