Jerry Issel

I was born in 68 in Fayetteville North Carolina while my dad was in Vietnam.When he got out, my older sister Michelle and I and my parents moved back to Cleveland Ohio where both of my parents were from.We moved several times in Ohio and then eventually ended up in Wallingford Connecticut.This is where I grew up. After graduating from high school I went through difficult times with a failed marriage and two beautiful children, Allen and Amanda,that ended up with a new dad when things didnt work out.I spent the next few years running from responsibility and going nowhere fast. I think it was 95 when I was working for my friend Cheryl at her shoe store in New Haven Ct. when I met Zee.He was a tattoo artist who had been working for 17 years in the business with the likes of Spider Webb and Danny Williams etc.He offered me a chance to learn tattooing and I jumped at it.I had always liked to draw but never did much with it,but now was my chance!I worked very hard at learning all I could.It was a very difficult oldschool method of being taught.Zee was very hard on me but taught me alot, and after 3 years with him I had to leave for greener pastures.This was when I moved into Greenman Tattoo in West Hartford Ct. My first day I came in to work there was this really quiet kid with his baseball hat hiding his face,it turned out to be Tony Ciavarro.Now up to this point I kinda thought I was the shit,big head and hardly the skills to back it up.So here I am sitting next to Tony everyday and immediately he could tattoo better than I could!He burst my big fat head and I instantly started to get better by feeding back and forth with him.We developed a relationship that still stands today and I can say that I owe more to Tony than anyone I can think of.He has helped me through many hard times and allowed me to grow as an artist in my own way.Through his constant and neverending growth as an artist I have learned so much.I struggle to keep up with him as I am not nearly as dedicated to the craft as he.I would honestly rather go surfing than work any day,but I am able to make my own schedule and keep myself in the water as much as possible!I feel that I have grown as an artist and I still am trying to keep up with Tony.He is a constant source of inspiration for me. Working at Stinky Monkey has and is the best experience of my life,and has brought to me so many good things that I could not list them all here. Thank you to Tony and thanks to all the customers that enjoy my work and allow me to keep doing what I love!