Posted February 11, 2008 in Feature Story

Twenty-one-year-old Travis Thompson’s age belies his level of experience: at 17, he began tattooing out of his garage, during the summer before his senior year of high school. By the time he was 18, he was apprenticing with Sammy “The Bull” at Bullseye Tattoo in Banning. It was a fast learning experience for the teenaged artist, as Sammy “threw me in the lion’s den,” recalls Travis, where he learned a lot of black and grey and gangster-style tattoos.

Then he moved to Escondido and apprenticed for four months at American Tattoo under Jay Schwartz, where he honed his color skills. Following another change to Swinger’s Ink in San Diego, Travis spent two years tattooing a lot of marines from Miramar Air Station.

While he’s moved around the past few years, he hardly lacks focus. “I like doing certain styles, Japanese and American styles,” he says. “I’ve always been into animation, crazy characters.” As far as his artistic taste for his own body, he relates a more personal tale. “Everyone I’ve worked with has worked on me. I’ve had my hands done, love and hate, heart and brass knuckles.”

His biggest inspiration comes from “the people I work with, the people that apprentice [under me]. You don’t learn anything until you see someone else tattoo.” In the past, Travis has drawn, painted, been in bands, but since tattooing, “[I] eat, breathe, sleep tattooing.” With so much of his life dedicated to the art, it seems likely that he’d suffer from burnout, or at the very least, things would stop being fresh after a certain point. But Travis finds that “when you’re drawn to a certain style, you limit yourself as an artist.  That’s why I [still] like to draw freestyle.” (Shaun Rosenstein)


Anchored Ink, 40119 Murrieta Hot Springs Rd., Murrieta, (951) 461-7899;





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