Barber Matty Conrad Recounts the Personal Stories Behind His Tattoos

I’ve always believed that tattoos tell your story like a visual history. We mark our bodies with them to remind us of pivotal points in our lives or what truly matters to us. My style has always been traditional, so all of my ink has an American Traditional “Flash” feel. The swallows on my forearms are a tribute to my grandfathers Frank and Charlie, and were my first tattoos. Sailors used to tattoo swallows once they’d successfully sailed a certain distance from home. As someone who travels extensively for work, swallows seemed appropriate. The eagle on my shoulder is a reminder of home. I’m from the West Coast of Canada; my eagle is American Traditional at the front and transitions to a Coast Salish look at the tips of its feathers. My razor tattoo is one that my whole staff got for Christmas one year as a gift from the shop—it’s kind of our “secret club” tattoo. I got the dagger with the “Stay True” banner with my friend, Bertus (aka The Bloody Butcher), when he came to visit. We were having a conversation about the importance of staying grounded when everything about your life becomes so crazy and so public, and this tattoo speaks to that.

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One of the most meaningful tattoos I have—and the one I get asked about the most—is the name “Belle” on my forearm. Belle was my bulldog and she was without a doubt the best friend I ever had. She was by my side during some of my toughest times, and losing her was one of the hardest days of my life. The very next day I got her name written on my forearm. I’m in no rush to get more ink, but I’m definitely not finished.

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[Images: Courtesy of Matty Conrad]

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