Tattoo Instructor – Orlando, FL
TONY “MR. TANK” CONWAY
Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been mesmerised with tattoos. I would spend hours drawing them on myself and my friends with markers, so I was beside myself with excitement when St.Louis old school legend, Electric Ed, offered me an apprenticeship, which I devoted my blood, sweat, tears… and my time, shining his Harleys, walking his pitbulls and picking up after him at home and at the shop. Never once, touching a Tattoo machine during my time with Ed. I moved to Florida and eventually paid for a partial education at Steel Quill Tattoo in Winter Springs, under Tony, learning the basics and then completed my apprenticeship under Scott at A Lasting Image.
My journey as a professional tattooist officially began in Orlando, Florida, in the summer of 2005, at A Lasting Image Tattoo, where I finished my apprenticeship. After some time building my clientele and portfolio, I was asked to join the Funhouse Tattoo family by owner, Malakai Messina, who mentored me and kept me surrounded with the best tattooers that the east coast had to offer. Every day, working at Funhouse was a hands-on lesson, soaking in so much knowledge. I feel extremely blessed to be a member of the Funhouse crew and that Malakai took the time to teach me the Tattoo industry from the floorboards to the roof. That experience was invaluable.
In 2008, I moved to the Seattle area and opened my first shop, Tat it Up, in Tacoma, Washington. I didn’t want to be just another old school shop. I wanted to do custom art on skin, so when I began taking on apprentices, I hand picked my talent from the local graffiti artists that so colorfully painted our city with amazing murals, and did it for the passion of the art… not for the money. I am proud to say that a majority of the people I taught, are not only still tattooing, but are now shop owners who apply the same standards and training that I taught them, just as I was taught. I opened Fighting Cock Tattoo, my second shop in Tacoma, next to the Emerald Queen Casino. That next spring, a woman who had survived breast cancer walked through my door and asked if I could do a 3D tattoo of an areola and her tattoo- changed my life, irreversibly.
In 2013, I founded Ink from the Heart, a nonprofit organization, tattooing free areolas on breast cancer survivors. The indescribable satisfaction and karmic reward I experienced moved me so greatly, with the help of a plastic surgeon friend and the Susan J. Coleman foundation, I closed my shops to dedicate my life to helping these women find closure. Ink from the Heart stayed active until I moved back to Florida at the beginning of 2018, keeping my eyes open for a way to do something that helps people and that involves tattooing. My search led me to the doorstep of Florida Tattoo Academy.
Being a part of Florida Tattoo Academy and getting to teach passionate artists the complex medium of tattooing human skin, is an honor and a way to pass on the torch that was passed to me, nearly 20 years ago.