By Ben Lawson
Tony Maskevich describes the difference between a tattooist and a tattoo artist as the artist’s willingness to study and improve his craft. After 20 years spent learning from other artists across the country, he is an authority on the subject.
Growing up, art was a passion for Maskevich, who would sit in the back of school classes and draw. But a career in the tattoo industry was the last thing on his mind when he answered a newspaper ad looking for someone who could draw and found himself working in a tattoo parlor.
His boss forbade him from dropping out of college, so Maskevich finished school in business administration, which comes in handy.
“After all this time, I still love the industry,” he said.
Setting out to define his craft, Maskevich traveled extensively across the country to learn new styles and techniques, eventually working in 17 states.
“Before kids and marriage, I would move into different studios and absorb as much knowledge as I could, then move on,” he said.
Sharing knowledge is common in the industry. Maskevich himself has had apprenticed eight artists who went on to become successful in their own right such as Cara Weir, who now works in Sevierville.
When Maskevich’s mother-in-law inherited a home in Seymour, his family moved to the area from Atlanta. Charging significantly less than similar parlor’s in Knoxville or Sevierville, he opened Run to the Hills Tattoo in Seymour to right between the two.
“Moving here as a family was awesome,” he said. “The family values are amazing.”
Maskevich outdoes competitors because he charges by the piece rather than by the hour. So whether a customer is satisfied with a design after 15 minutes or 36 hours, the price is reflected only in the finished work. This also allows revision time for customers to change their minds. Maskevich once spent around three years working with a client to incorporate everything they wanted.
“I take my time without milking the money tree,” he said.
Maskevich stresses the importance of constantly expanding his art in all areas. This includes not only following, but exceeding health state health codes. He has maintained a regular 100 percent on inspections and even helped incorporate new criteria into health codes from techniques he picked up in other states. Including Maskevich, fellow artists George Miller and David McCarter are also fully certified.
As the tattoo industry continues to grow, so does the appreciation for the business, with fewer people showing disdain. Maskevich said he’s done pieces for as many lawyers and judges as convicts. Other changes include the rise of female clients, who make up nearly 80 percent of his business.
The care he puts into his business draws regular customers back, like Brad Sutton, who’s come to Maskevich for two years.
“You’ve got to trust the person putting ink on your skin,” Sutton said.
Run for the Hills Tattoo is located off Chapman Highway by Floyd’s Market. For more information, check out their Web site at http://runtothehillstattoo.com.
Still Tattooing After 20 Years
By Ben Lawson