Coast to Coast Breaks Through.

Photos: Michael Kuhn

While Charlotte has been preoccupied closing some of the more historic music venues and art spaces around town over the last few months, there is one culture that has been able to escape a similar demise. The tattoo culture of the Queen City has experienced a recent boom with the opening of multiple shops in the uptown area including Noda’s own, Coast to Coast Tattoo. Officially opened just last month with the help of Mikey Holmes and his pedigree of talented traditional artists, Coast to Coast has broken through already, developing quite the buzz in the process. We were fortunate enough to pick the brain of shop mastermind Mikey Holmes in between his busy travel schedule and the day to day of running his new space.

You have been on the road a lot recently this past year or so, and You even called Ace Custom home for a period of time. What made you settle down and decide to open up your own shop here in Charlotte?

For the last year I traveled full time tattooing. It consisted of 67 flights and just as many drives around the states, even some international travel. I came home about six days a month and just kept it moving. Before that, I always traveled tattooing but still worked in shops here and there. I want to say I tattooed for a full year just being on the road. I settled down to build a more local clientele, to be able to return the favor, and to have a place for other traveling tattooers to come to in the Carolinas and meet my standards for what a tattoo shop should be.

What are your thoughts on the tattoo culture in Charlotte recently with the boom of shops opening up, including your own?

Personally I think there are too many tattoo shops everywhere. A lot of tattooers use it for a way out of a normal job and don’t truly love the art. They are looking for a quick dollar and it shows in their work. Everyone at my shop including myself live for tattooing. It’s consumed our life and it’s all we want to be doing.  It’s everything to us and we won’t settle for anything but our best work at all times. Made to Last is another great shop here in town put together by good friends of mine, great tattooers, and I hope for nothing but the best for them all.

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Why is it that tattoo shops keep opening up in Charlotte but so many other art centric businesses like venues and art spaces can’t keep their doors open?

Like I said, I believe more money is involved in tattooing than in selling personal art. You have a lot of artists that start tattooing for the money and not the love. These are the so-called “tattooers” that should quit before it’s too late. If you don’t love tattooing, you shouldn’t tattoo.

What can we expect in Charlotte with the amount of artist guest spots coming through Coast to Coast and other shops?

Here at Coast to Coast, you can expect the Carolina hub for traveling tattooers from around the world.  It’s a huge reason for me wanting to open the shop in the first place.  I want to create a shop here with doors open to the traveling artist. I want to return the favor to the many artists that have opened their doors to me in the past. We will have some of the best tattooers in the world visiting; quality tattooers that will always give you a good experience and a great tattoo.

how important of a tool is Instagram to the success of a tattoo artist in today’s Culture? Do you feel it’s vital for a tattoo artist to have a strong internet presence to gain traction in this industry, or is it something one could survive without?

I definitely feel like sticking with the times is very important, and currently Instagram is very popular and many people lean towards it for showcasing their tattooing ability. I am able to put up a post online mentioning when I will be in a different city around the world and the next thing you know, I’m getting inquiries from people all over the country. It’s pretty amazing. However, we are building a great shop here for all local clients and for those individuals traveling to collect from guest artists. If Instagram was never to be used again, Coast to Coast would be just fine. We will be giving people quality work and great experiences, no matter what. That’s what it’s all about for us. Doing what you love and making people happy.

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HOW IS THE DYNAMIC OF THE CREW AT COAST TO COAST NOW WITH JEFF DAVIS, NATHAN FISH, AND YOURSELF?  DID YOU SEEK THESE GUYS OUT FOR THEIR BODY OF WORK OR DID IT JUST COME NATURALLY AND MAKE SENSE?

Jeff and Nathan have been great friends of mine for years and it was just a natural fit. These guys are hungry to grow and learn everything they can with tattooing. They are my favorite tattooers and I love working with them. We are a family here and that’s how it will stay. It’s not a shop were anyone can just work here. We are a small circle and it will be a full shop decision if anyone else were to ever come on board.

How was the reaction from the opening day Launch party last month?

The feedback we had was amazing. It was sponsored by Brixton Supply, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Yellow Beak Press and Magic Moon USA. We had the event fully catered with guest tattooers from all over. Greg Christian, Mike Fite, and Chris Fernandez. We also had Hayden Mingus a amazing barber from Wilmington, NC doing classic hair cuts all day long for free. Literally hundreds of people came for the opening throughout the day. It’s been on since day one and hasn’t slowed down a bit.  Couldn’t be happier with how everything is going.

What do you have in store for Coast to Coast coming up?

Currently we are just enjoying what we have created so far. Tattooing everyday and loving every minute of it.  We have quite a few guest artists coming in every month and events that you will not want to miss out on. If you follow our shop Instagram at @coasttocoasttattoo you will see everything we have in the works moving forward. Don’t miss out.

What future plans do you have for yourself outside of tattooing?

Honestly not much is going on outside of tattooing. It’s what I live for. And this is what I want everyday. Nothing makes me happier than coming in, doing what I love, and leaving someone happy with a permanent decision. I plan on doing it until my hands don’t work anymore.

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Coast To Coast Tattoo is located at

512 East 15th St
Charlotte, NC 28205

Open everyday from 12-8pm

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