>> Take a tour through Cobbs Hill Park and tucked around the bend, you will find Old Friends Tattoo residing at 241 Norris Drive in Rochester, New York. Clients strolling in with a tentative idea or day-of needle jitters are immediately washed with calm by the pristine minimalist decor. The custom shirts stacked neatly in the display case sell out fast, as shows of shop pride are a common occurrence at local venues and family gatherings alike. Personal interaction with the contributing artists only further reveals how they each rose to be immensely successful in their craft.

In the backroom sits co-owner “Fat Casy” Diaz, aged 29, engaging in banter with his longtime best friend and now business partner, Beth Stanley. He is eagerly awaiting his next victim while a muted display of gore and suspense plays out on the TV, carefully selected from an extensive collection of vintage monster classics.

Casy’s career evolved from a disciplined background in graphic design, a field which he truly enjoyed but left him with fewer job options than he had hoped for. After developing a solid base of friendship at Temple Tattoo on Monroe Avenue in 2009, he was given the opportunity to take an apprenticeship with the owner Kira Hosler when Beth became pregnant with her first child. “I would drive from Canandaigua out to Rochester every day after school and stay out here on the weekends, in my car if I had to or at a homie’s house.” He recalls that despite a period of digging his heels in and feeling apprehensive, his first mentor sprung one of her own appointments onto him in 2011, a cherry blossom on the underboob, which would require not only professionalism but a strategy to execute. Struck with the worry of ensuring sure she was comfortable in a private space and fear that he would it botch it — “I said, ‘Fuck it, I gotta do it.’ So I did.” Upon her departure to Brooklyn, it was under his second mentor Christine Erikson that he really began to establish a solid concept of what to do and what not to do...

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