Sometimes, all it takes is someone pointing us in another direction to kickstart an unexpected passion. Life has a funny way of deviating from the original plans we set for ourselves. 24-year-old Marques “Swavido Tattoos” Neal is a Tattoo Artist from Kansas City, Kansas. He never intended on tattooing or showed any interest in even drawing. His aunt, Native Ambur Jae, opened her shop, The Code, and extended an invitation to Marques for him to learn. At the time, it was the perfect side hustle for Marques, who was attending Nursing School. Shortly, he’d find himself becoming a full-time Tattoo Artist. As a newcomer, Neal found hardships in gaining clients’ trust. By offering a couple of free tattoos, he was able to showcase his abilities and allow the work to market for him. Although Marques mainly sticks to black and grey and color flash work, he studies various styles. His end goal is to become a full-blown Anime Tattooist and a pillar of Kansas City’s Tattoo community.
“People would say it’s a popularity contest, but that’s just the Kansas City scene altogether. People go with who they click with or who they truly mess with. There are so many artists, so it’s up to the artist themselves to make a name for themselves. What I mean by that is you have to create a public image that makes people want to be around you. I know great tattoo artists that have no clientele because they are not known, and have no public image at all. As I said, the city is a popularity contest, so people are going to go to a certain Tattoo Artist just to brag about getting tattooed by that person. When it comes to other Tattoo Artists, I respect them all. I’m brand new to this with no stripes at all. I feel like no matter what, you can always learn something from another artist whether it’s big or small. Don’t get me wrong, the tattoo scene isn’t so sweet. Everyone has something to say about the next artist, and they will gate-keep things. Nobody can be mad at anyone though, it’s a competition on who wants it more. Some people are content with where they are, and some want to be known around the world, like me.”—Marques Neal
Neal has been able to connect and collaborate with other local tattoo artists, such as InkbyGabs and SincerelyInked. Marques and Gabs have worked on a client together, and he credits her with helping him get into the tattoo shop where he currently works. He’s worked with Sincere on multiple anime designs, which has benefited both upcoming artists. Marques mentions Kila’s Tattoo Shop crew, Kila Renee and Wesley, the two lead artists, tattoo artists InkbyGabs, MicoleInk, and social media coordinator Zarez Blixky. Neal states he sets himself apart by having a passion for his work and caring about the impression he leaves on clients. He’s driven by client satisfaction rather than the money he makes. Seeing everything as a stepping stone, Marques plans to expand his Tattoo business into a brand versed in clothing, modeling, investments, and more! Creating different self-owned businesses is his way of continuing to do what he loves, certainly someone we expect to see more from. Always move #CloserToYourDreams
Website: Swavido Tattoos
Instagram: Swavido Tattoos