“Smile, you’re beautiful.”  It’s a phrase you’ll often hear Tom Tapit say. Freely seeing the inner beauty in people, Tom is inspired to manifest, on clients’ skin, what makes each person special through custom tattoo art.

Tattooing since 2006, Tom’s style can be described as illustrative realism, in which the subject matter, from pretty pin-ups to sinister skulls, are rendered with strong contour lines, so that the images stand out and stand up through the years. Tom believes that a tattoo should look and make you feel just as good for decades after it was first inked. And the experience of getting tattooed—the time Tom spends working with each client and the respect paid to each piece, from small to large-scale work—should have people smiling every time they look at their artwork.

In getting to know his clients, Tom is able to visually express the ideals and emotions behind each piece. Often, Tom’s tattoo designs contain thoughtful symbolism and allusions to concepts, and are not necessarily limited to literal representations.

Tom counts as his artistic influences Alphonse Mucha, Audrey Kawasaki, and Gil Elvgren, among many others. And he takes reference from a variety of sources, such as oddities, old postcards and magazines, and roadside antiques. Yet, he also says, “If it’s around me, it’s reference,” meaning that art and beauty can be found everywhere.

It’s fitting that Tom’s tattoo home today is Studio 28 tattoo in Manhattan. When Tom is not at Studio 28, you can find him at various tattoo conventions and doing guest spots at studios across the country.

– Marisa Kakoulas, Needlesandsins.com.

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