Permanent Reminder: Family is more than just Blood

Permanent Reminder: Family is more than just Blood


Sometimes in our lives, we are privileged to meet people who come in as friends only to become Brothers. In my journey, I have been blessed several times over. Friends from childhood have back into my life, my paths has crossed with people who share my struggles. Overall, things seemed to align again for me when I moved to Madison, Wisconsin.

I met Tony on my application team at Epic during an all team meeting. Honestly, I wrote him off at the time as a cocky punk… Maybe it was the fauxhawk. Who knows? My favourite part of working at Epic was working Go Live shifts. I don’t remember which came first, but eventually, I scheduled myself to work on 2 or 3 of Tony’s Go Lives in a row: JCL in Phoenix, Memorial Healthcare in Hollywood and Memorial in Miramar. Even though we weren’t close, Tony invited me to have dinner with the team and hang out to meet the other workers. Fate definitely had her purpose for me. I ended up meeting another one of my besties on this trip, Kelly “Primetime” Dolan.

It was a short time after we got back to Madison, that I met Dustin. There is a fun German-inspired restaurant in Madison called the Essen Haus. I was invited to play Das Boot with some of Tony’s friends. I wanted to make a good impression, so I wore one of my favourite hats. I am pretty sure everyone there was impressed with my Boot skills and my awesome hat… amirite?

It wasn’t a long time before Tony, Dustin and I became nearly inseparable. Jeff had lived with Tony for 3 years or so at this point. They were basically common-law married: cute, right? So it was destined that Jeff would become friends with me as well. Just as expected, once he paused his sketching habits, we became very close.

Over the next 15 months or so, we did everything together: parties, dinners, travel, birthdays, the highs, the lows, and everything in between. A little after I moved to Saudi Arabia, Jeff moved to Dubai. It gave my heart comfort knowing that even in the middle of the desert on the other side of this rock, I had someone that close living.

We were able to hang out together and travel a bit together. But for the most part, my trips trailed his by a couple months. It was funny, when I would get to a hotel and post a picture of the room, I would see that he had been in that exact room a few weeks before, posting about how terrible the view is.

Jefe, Tony, Dunston, Nigel and I after Isthmus Beer & Cheese festival 2015.
Hanging out with Tony and Jefe at Barasti in Dubai

If you follow my journey, or facebook, or whatever, you will know that last year we tragically and suddenly lost Jeff to a horrific battle with cancer. I can hardly imagine the pain the family went through, and as I would say that, I realized that Jeff had become family to me. I have a great family. They mean the world to me. If you have seen any of my other tattoos you know that I carry them with me always. It only seemed fitting that Jeff would be memorialized in the same manner.


After reading reviews, I decided to pick Iron Quill. I originally wanted to go to Audra, since I tend to favour the way female tattoo artists work. But she was booked, so Avery (front desk at IQ) suggested Isaac. I read his history and viewed his portfolio, and I was impressed.

Nice taxidermy work
Funny Signs in the shop
Iron Quill


I setup a consult for when I arrived. I explained who Jeff is in my life and my friends’ lives. I explained that we considered ourselves the cowboys. I have realized that sometimes it is best to give general ideas to the artist and let them do their work. I love seeing the creativity and design come through what they develop.

**If anyone is a tattoo artist and thinks this isn’t the best idea, let me know**

  • I gave the following elements and awaited his design:
    • Cowboy Hat
    • The Cowboy Rides Away – George Strait lyrics
    • The number three or the count of three
      • All my tattoos have 3 in them.
        • it is a perfect number in my mind
        • my favourite number is 27… 3^3
      • This is to represent the three that remain: Dustin, Tony, and I
    • The Florida State colours (Garnet and Gold)
    • Something to represent Wisconsin

This is what he designed.

The final design


Isaac has won several awards, and it was easy to see why. First off, his station and setup is one of the most professional I have seen. Second, I love the rotary machines. He uses several different machines. This allows him to calibrate each configuration to his exact specs. These machines seem to make much more precise end results. Also they seem to heal more quickly. Overall, it only took 90 minutes maybe 100 minutes.

set and ready to go
About to start

I am very happy with the end result.

Final product


I would recommend Isaac to anyone searching for a beautiful permanent addition. His designs are impeccable, and his work helps define professionalism. Dustin, Tony… if you’re reading this… go get some ink. Also, Kates, I think you should visit too. Maybe if Julie comes up again.

Hanging with my artist, Isaac.

Jefe, I know you are up there. I hope you are happy with the representation. I look forward to taking you with my on all my travels. #YouShouldBeHere

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