ROBERT F TREAT
"As a child I always had a feel and an eye for art. I think I could draw before I could walk. I would see other people with tattoos and just couldn't help myself from staring at their tattoos. I just thought how cool it was to have artwork on your skin that you could carry around with you."
My parents were against tattoos and body piercing. They would say "only cut throats and sailors had that sort of thing." In 1988, I joined the US Army, Airborne Infantry. It was during this time when I was in airborne school that I received my first tattoo. The name of the shop was "Rocket Rick's" right outside Ft Benning, GA. From there I was stationed at Ft Clayton, Panama. Which I was there for a year and a half. I wanted to get a tattoo while I was down there, but I was afraid of how they sterilized. So I waited until I got back to the states, which was at Ft Polk, LA. The first shop I went into was a bad experience, which I'm not going to mention this shop's name. The second shop I went into was a shop called "Rick's Tattoo." There were two artist working there, the owner Rick "Yo Mama" McNeely, and Neal "Rooster" Warden, two bikers, who really knew how to sling ink. I found myself going in every two weeks to get a tattoo. Every time I got paid, I got a tattoo. After a while I found myself just going there to hang out and watch the art of these two seasoned artist. I would empty the trash and sweep the floor just to have a reason to be there.
One night I was watching "Rooster" work, and he stopped in the middle of the tattoo that he was working on, and turned around and looked at me and said, "I see that f**kin' look in your eye." I said "What look?" He said, "The look I had when I first started tattooing ten years ago. You want to learn how to tattoo, don't you?" I really never thought about tattooing, until he made that statement to me. It was right then, that I decided that's what I wanted to do, be a tattooist. It seemed like I was in the right place at the right time, because Rick was at a point in his career where he wanted to semi-retire and travel more with his wife, Sam. After "Rooster" spoke to Rick, and after I spoke to Rick, Rick decided to give me a chance. I started out just drawing stencils by hand. I did that for 3 to 4 months. Then it finally came, my first tattoo. I was nervous enough as it was, but when I found out that I was tattooing "Rooster", I thought I was going to die. He said, "Don't worry, I'll talk you right through it." Which he did. It was through these two men, that I learned the art of tattooing, as well as the business of tattooing. Also about life and they showed me a lot about myself. I will forever be grateful, not only to Rick but to Neal as well, because I only had the chance to work with Neal for 8 months, until he was tragically killed in Nov of 1991. I felt that my world had ended, for Neal became like a brother to me. I was so lost without him, that it almost drove me to stop tattooing.
It was because of Mrs. Annie, Neal's mother, that I continued to go on. Simply by her saying, "Do you think that Neal would want you to throw away what he has given you?" I didn't want to do that, so I pushed on with what Neal and Rick had given me. After Neal's death, I moved back to PA where my parents were living.
Both my parents were against my tattoos, and me doing tattoos. I didn't have any equipment at the time, and I went to my mother, in private, for a loan. She agreed to loan me the money if I didn't let my father know. I guess he'll know now, after reading this. LOL. I got my equipment, but my father wouldn't allow me to tattoo out of his house. So through a friend that I had met when I moved back, I met a guy who had an extra room at his house, and he would allow me to tattoo out of it and pay him rent by tattooing him. I thought, sounds good to me. Through this guy (who was a biker) which for some reason I attract bikers like magnet to steel. Bikers and I just click, we get along. I think I was a biker in a past life. LOL. Anyway, he helped me find work. With the money I was making I was able to go to art school, majoring in "Graphic Design."
The school was Bradley Academy for the Visual Arts, located in York, PA. After living with, and tattooing out of this biker's house for a year, I moved on. The first shop I worked at after leaving my biker friend's house, was a shop called "Picture Yourself Tattoos." It was owned by a guy named "Wolf", who again was another biker. Aren't bikers the best people to be around. LOL. The shop is no longer there. I only worked there for a few months before going back to tattooing out of my house. I had my own place by then.
I married in 1994. My wife Denise, really didn't understand about tattooing and the commitment you have to make to it, to do it. I could understand the feelings that she had, about only making money when you have clients coming through the door. With that, I went and got a real job, so to speak. I had my trade in welding, so I would do that during the day, and tattoo during the evening hours. This went on for about three years, until welding started to affect my health. So I stopped welding, and went into armed guard work, still tattooing on the side.
By this time the year was 2000. Eight years had past since I came back to PA. When I received a phone call from a friend of mine that I had taught how to tattoo, back in 1992, when I first came back to PA. He told me that he was the new owner of a chain of tattoo shops in central PA, called "Pro Ink Tattoo Studios of Central PA." He asked me "if I liked my day job?" I told him "no, it sucks, I would rather be tattooing full time." He said, "Well, it's funny that you mentioned that because I have a shop in Harrisburg that I would like for you to manage." I first spoke with my wife about it, and she gave me the green light, knowing in her heart, that tattooing is where my heart was. So, I took the job.
While here, I self taught myself how to body pierce, which I've been doing for over four years now. I've also really cleaned the place up since I first came here, and have really built up my clientele. I managed Pro Ink in Harrisburg for a little over two years, up until July 2002. The owner ran into financial problems and lost the lease on the shop.
Again, it was all about being in the right place at the right time, and I took over the lease and changed the name to "Red Beard Ink, Tattooing and Body Piercing." I find that giving 150% of my art and of myself, is really what attracts my clients. I hope that through this website, I'm able to bring in even more new faces from around the world. Hope to see all of you soon.
Take Care & God Bless,
Bob "Trixter" Treat
PS: Always be true to your heart, for only you know where your heart lye's.