Interviewed by: Aliecia Brissett, IG @AsSeenByLeesh
When Ceaser from Black Ink Crew was first approached about having his tattoo shop documented by VH1, he wasn’t exactly interested. Six seasons later the show is a continued success. VULKAN caught up with Ceaser to talk about his experience on the show and what we can expect from Black Ink Crew going forward.
What made you want to become a tattoo artist?
My daughter made me start doing tattoos. Knowing that I had to be responsible for another life made me realize I needed to get out the streets.
What was the experience like getting your first tattoo?
Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. I was 18 years old and one of my old heads took me to a tattoo shop called Champions in the Bronx. I was so eager and I ended up picking a piece off the wall that was a mortal kombat symbol.
Out of all the tattoos you have, which one holds the most meaning to you and why?
Well, that is kind of difficult. I have my mother and my daughter but, I have to go with my daughter. I got it on my hand so, it’s kind of my motivation to keep going.
How did you feel when VH1 first approached you about doing a reality show based out of your shop?
I told them to f*ck off! I was and still a very private person. I watched reality TV and thought these people are clowns. But now I’m the clown. They approached me three times and if it wasn’t for Ted, I would have never did it.
What does Black Ink Crew represent?
IDK. That’s different. No one ever asked me that. It wasn’t always about the crew. It was about a bunch of young black men trying to get out the hood. I say Black Ink represents UNITY. A family that grew up together and made it together. Honestly, the only one I miss is PUMA. I hate the way things went down because it wasn’t supposed to go down that way.
Did you think the Black Ink series was going to be as big as it is now?
F*ck no! Honestly, I was doing it for the pilot so I can re-up. I thought who the hell gone watch a show about a black man doing tattoos. Next thing I know we got a bidding war among networks. They said I’m about to be on TV. That’s when I knew I had to get out the hood.
With previous shows about tattoo shops being casted by predominately white people, and seeing the dynamic of business and the tattoo industry, do you think the show has created a different light on the image of black people being tatted and owning a business?
I think the show have given the world a look at the reality of the tattoo industry. What people don’t understand is that black people are the main consumers in this industry. This is really our culture. Tattooing really started in Africa with tribal body art.
Have you gotten any negative backlash when you wanted to open your shop?
Not really, other than tattoo artists [being] mad because I opened shops in their neighborhood.
What are the top 5 things you have learned that you can share with others about being a black business owner?
Don’t be discouraged by failure just learn from it. Those around you might not support you. Believe in your brand. Play dumb and catch the wise. Ambition and being persistent will take you far. Victory loves preparation
Do you feel black businesses are supported by black people? Why or why not?
Black people support my business. Atlanta was the first places I picked out because of the culture there and it was like where the urban ink industry was really booming. Now I’m opening a shop in every black neighborhood and then I’m coming for the rest of the industry.
Since its inception, what have you learned about yourself while filming the show?
I’m a great businessman. I never thought about being a businessman before this but I’m a good at it. I want to be up there with Jay Z, Diddy and def 50 Cent.
With all the editing and cutting that goes into producing reality television, do you feel yourself and your team are properly represented on Black Ink Crew?
We are delinquents. Nah, I’m just playing. I think we are represented right. What you see on TV is who we are.
Do you have any regrets about your behavior since being on the show?
No regrets. If it wasn’t for the show the world would not know just how dope Black Ink is.
You have been very vocal and showed the world how you are in terms of relationships, do you regret any actions you took while being in a relationship on camera?
I don’t have any regrets about putting my relationship on camera. Sometimes you see only one aspect of a man on TV being a dog. And I really did try. I tried and I failed at it. It’s not that I’m scared to do it again but, I just won’t do it again.
What should fans look forward to in 2018 with Black Ink Crew?
Expansion and watching us grow. New people, new locations and whole new story to tell.
PHOTOGRAPHER: Timothy Smith
STYLIST: Brendon Alexander