A soft, yet unwavering buzz which mimics that of bumblebee echoes throughout a rather tiny bedroom that has been transformed into a workspace. Miniature containers no larger than a thimble rest on the desk, each filled with a different, vivid color. A young woman winces as the quick, slender needle pierces the delicate skin on her right foot, pumping droplets of ink beneath the surface. The artist behind the tattoo machine, carefully crafting a vibrant hibiscus, is Bloomsburg University’s own Donnie Meade.
A fairly new yet experienced and talented addition to the tattoo world, the senior began the craft less than two years ago.
“I decided to start tattooing because [my first one] was done so poorly and I was overcharged,” Meade states. “Luckily I was able to get it fixed but promised myself that if I ever started tattooing, I would always do my absolute best work to prevent history from repeating itself.”
By the mere age of twenty, the aspiring artist had over 90 hours of work done to his own body which fueled his desire to begin his own business.
August of 2010 marked the beginning of Meade’s entrepreneurial endeavor and he officially opened up shop in his bedroom.
“I gave my first tattoo to my father,” remembers Meade. “My family and friends have all been extremely supportive, trusting me and letting me do awesome work on them.”
Some of the pieces Meade has bestowed upon his clients include anything from soaring bald eagles, tribal arm bands, skulls, and elaborate calligraphy. The artist works with both bold colors and standard black and gray in order to bring a story to life.
“Tattoos offer a great way for somebody to express their emotions, feelings, beliefs, and memories,” declares Meade. “I have yet to meet anybody that doesn’t have a story about their tattoo.”
In a mere two short years, Meade has made quite the name for himself. While his business essentially started on a whim, the senior has a number of regulars who seek ink whenever he’s not working towards his bachelor’s degree.
“I’m incredibly pleased that my son has followed his passion while maintaining a solid GPA,” says Don Meade, proud father. “He’s excited to put his marketing degree to use in his shop someday.”
The entrepreneurial skills exhibited by this young talent have reaped many benefits aside from just a steady following. By beginning his own business, Meade has been able to make his own schedule and tattoo when it’s suitable for him.
“I’m completely in love with the convenience of being my own boss,” explains Meade. “Being able to just lounge around in sweatpants and a T-shirt while I work [and] bump some Wiz Khalifa is the absolute best.”
Even if Meade were to venture outside of his manmade tattoo habitat, namely his bedroom, in attire other than sweatpants, one wouldn’t be able to tell that the rather tall young man was covered in ink.
“None of my tattoos are visible while wearing a golf shirt, shorts, and sandals,” reveals Meade. “I look just as normal as everyone else and as a matter of fact, some people have a hard time believing [I] do tattoos.”
Unlike the vast majority of those alongside him in the industry, Meade chose to keep his tattoos hidden for a strategic reason. Although Meade is incredibly passionate about the work he does, he has not limited himself to tattooing forever.
“The truth is, you never know where life is going to take you and sometimes job changes [occur],” the artist says. “You never want your tattoos to get in the way of having to support a family someday.”
This incredibly mature outlook on life has allowed Meade to remain humble despite his rapid success. No matter where his talent takes him, Meade will forever be grateful to his brother, mom, dad, aunt, cousins, and “endless numbers of friends and referrals” for believing in his skill.
The buzzing dies down and the room grows quiet.
Bright shades of pink, yellow, and purple mix with little beads of blood as the Pittsburgh native cautiously yet confidently puts the finishing touches on the blossoming flower.
“To this day, I’ve tattooed over 100 people which I’m really proud of,” Meade says as he wipes his latest piece clean. “My work has greatly improved over the months and there is no stopping me now.”