I first heard the name 'Uzi' from a couple of snot nosed, drunk crust punks named Alison and Adam, who kept coming around Spotlight Tattoo and lived out of a nice craftsman home they turned into a shithole around the corner from the shop. They had these really bold, well designed tattoos, but what made them stand out was a little bit of flair, a certain sensibility to the girl heads, a touch that most tattooers doing traditional work never seem to find. I imagined some scrawny Israeli hipster kid, who thought calling himself Uzi would be clever. Then one day on the porch of said house, drinking and hanging out, I remember asking 'who's that Mexican biker dude over there? He looks pissed...' 'That's Uzi' was the reply.
Years have passed, I think Alison became a Mormon, and Adam... Who know what happened to that kid. But Uzi's still with us, and in the odd case you don't know, he's kicking some serious ass in the tattoo department. Miguel has taken American tattooing in, processed it's strengths completely, internally combined it with his other visual influences (people like R. Crumb, Jim Phillips, Tex Avery), and has projectile vomited out a tidal wave of neon colored, in your face, next level All-Native-American Awesomeness. And when I say Pro-jectile, what I really mean is Pro-lific! This dude draws and paints like it's goin' out of style. If he doesn't have 100 sheets of flash under his belt by now, I'm a monkey's uncle.
Along w a few other choice heads, like Aaron Coleman and Danny Reed, Uzi has truly moved the big unwieldy steer of 'Traditional Tattooing' into new pastures. This has been done the old-fashioned way, with a lot of elbow grease and a little of that most rare commodity in today's world: Creativity. He's a key player in the new movement, and is now being imitated not only by all the new snot-nosed crust punks on Instagram, but has come to rub-off on damned near all of us. And personally, I think tattooing is better for his influence.
The lessons Uzi's tattooing has to teach are useful: how to turn the most wacked-out, Mad Magazine idea you can think of into a strong tattoo design that works. How do you molest people to into wearing them? Paint tons of it up to show them! Simple as that kids, yet don't be fooled! Miguel makes it look easy, but that's because he's mastered his game, not because it is.
After spending a little time in Southern California at Dark Horse Tattoo and Port City Tattoo, Uzi has once again taken up residence at American Graffiti in Sacramento. Just like he and I, this interview is now a little old, but I like it and it all still rings true.
Party on Brother, This Bud's for You, Miguel!