I started skateboarding when I was 13 and what I loved about skateboarding the most was being able to go down to the local mom and pop shop to buy skate products. I remember it giving me the feeling of being a part of something unique; free from corporations and mass produced products. Most skate companies at the time were independently owned so the common public in the early 90s had no clue what any of the brands I wore at the time were. I remember getting made fun of for my puffy DC shoes with the tongues popped out. Ironically those same brands are worn by the same people who made fun of me 20 years ago. I think this concept bleeds in all communities & “industries”, whether you’re into building motorcycles, putting together a skateboard, or tattooing a sleeve on someone’s arm. The most important part of anything is the equipment.

This is what separates a skateboard at a shop & a skateboard at Toys R us? The same thing that differentiates buying your supplies from a credible source that “gets it” and buying starter kids out of china or even just low quality tubes and needles from people who aren’t involved in the community. How important is your craft to you? I know for me I will never be caught dead riding a razor scooter or a fresh deck that I picked up off a shelf at a local Walmart. For me, good products mean reliability and deliver the same results every time. Bad products can and will make you less than what you are truly capable of. This is exactly why I always trip out whenever dudes try bartering with me for supplies at conventions. It’s like you never go the Apple store and try to bargain on an iPhone, because we all know no matter where you go, it will be the same price. You can’t re-do a tattoo, so why not use the best quality tools out there?

Here’s an example, Nike is the number one athletic shoe company in the world and whenever you think of a professional athlete you can easily associate them with Nike. Nike failed attempting to branch into the skateboard community in the 90s despite its reputation and trillion dollar budget. They had not connected to people that skateboard. They didn’t successfully break into the skate industry till about 8 years ago. The way they did this was by making the best skate shoes by working with people that skate, working with known skateboarders and finding out their needs. Nike also did what Nike does best, get behind and support some of the best skateboarders out there. Once they made that transition everyone else hopped on board. Style, intuitive design and most of all quality.

A skateboarder by the name of Stefan Janoski released a shoe that was so neutral. It was/is great for casual everyday wear for anyone and skateboarders love skating in them. 3 years ago while in Oregon for the Portland tattoo expo, I made a trip to the Nike headquarters. I asked them what their top 10, highest- grossing shoes were, low and behold, the Nike Janoski was one of them!

Ten years ago I wouldn’t have skated in Nike’s if someone gave me them for free, they wouldn’t have supported my skating the way I need them to. The point being, like tattoo products, you have to dial into what the user wants, whether that means being the user or working alongside them. The problem with low grade products is they have no soul, no style, just something to make money from. You need people who are passionate about what you are trying to do behind the products. In the end, real WILL recognize real. I have been using the same skate products and skating my same pair of Nikes for the past 8 years and I won’t let up anytime soon because in the end I like the way they “help me” skate. So the next time someone asks you why you like TATSoul products. The answer is simple. I like the way they help me tattoo.

– George Wang