Devon Blood is, above all, a great and inspirational person. He is a thankful son, a loving husband and a proud father..and he had the strenght and determination to get back into the game and follow his passion.
In 2006, at the age of twenty-six, Devon Blood was victim of a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head. When he awoke from a medically induced coma weeks later, he found that he had lost precise muscle control on the right side of his body. In particular, he suffered severe muscle tremors in his right hand. He knew he would never be able to ride a skateboard, but nothing could come between Devon and his love of art and tattooing. He trained himself to use his left hand how he once used his right.
He now paints, draws, and tattoos left-handed.
Justin and I interviewed him together for IamNotATattooBlog.
Ilaria – How did you approach to the tattoo world?
Donnie Irish saw me drawing in front of a coffee shop in Fremont Ca. and offered me an apprenticeship in 1996.
Ilaria – What is the first memory connected to your interest in tattooing?
My mom did my first tattoo on my leg in the 7th grade (my name stick and poke on my leg). Skateboarding and punk rock turned my eye to it.
Justin – Is it true you woke up from your coma when you heard the tattoo machine buzzin?
The first reaction I had in my coma was when my buddy Matt Howse put a national deluxe in my hand and ran it, he was told by my nurses that he couldn’t do it so he smuggled in a power supply machine in his pocket, and when the nurses were out of the room he put the machine in my limp hand, plugged in that power supply, stepped on the switch and ran it, then boom my eye twitched, first reaction. The hand Matt ran the machine in was my left hand but I was right handed, now I’m a lefty, it feels more natural since I woke up. Matt and I used to work at Sacred Tattoo in Oakland together, he knew that Jonesys were my favorite machine, so after he did that when he was at Spider Murphy’s, he said “it’s good for you to have this” and gave me that machine. It’s in my line up with my other nationals.
Ilaria – How did your perception of life change after the near-fatal gunshot you were victim of?
I became a more positive person, I felt I had survived it so it’s time to smile and keep laughing.
Ilaria – Your life story is the outcome of the big passion you have for your job, real commitment, sacrifice and..consciousness of being here, being alive. What did you say to yourself when you realized what happened? And what would you say now, to the person you’ve become?
I said “Oh crap! I had the craziest dreams last night”, I had no idea how long I was out and those crazy dreams were 2 weeks 24hrs a day of having them, I remember every dream I had when I was in my coma (started with me getting shot,I thought it was one of my dreams but really I was just remembering what and how it happened) I talk about my dreams in my book I wrote Keep Laughing. Well I guess I’d smile that my wife’s getting off work and oh crap it’s time to change Lola makes diaper (I’m a house dad on the week days).
Every time I paint or type I’m happy because it’s like that gun shot put more imagination in my head, I like my art better now..it flows more naturally and same with my writing, time to laugh!
Justin – You have lived a life that not many others could even imagine. What’s the biggest miracle you have witnessed?
The birth of my daughter Lola Mae in 2014.
Ilaria – How would you describe your own concept of ‘determination’?
My concept is simple, if you want it then take it, don’t let anything or anyone keep you from doing it. Anytime someone says ‘no you can’t’ say ‘fuck you!’ and do it (my doctors and rehab teachers said it will be hard but do it if you think you can). My friends Matt Howse, Clayton James, Alex Turan and everyone at DLXSF really got me going on it from hospital to now.
Justin – Let’s say you wake up in the twilight zone with no tattoos and $800 in your pocket. You walk inside the tattoo shop to rectify that and Betty Broadbent says to you , “just type any name into the computer and they will tattoo you next’.. Who’s it gonna be tattooing you?
Twilight zone huh? Well shit then Charles Bukowski.
Justin – What would you get ?
A fly sitting at a bar drinking a whiskey and water.
Justin – Would you save enough money to invite them for beer n tacos after?
Hell ya I would.
Justin – It seems like Sean Doolittle needs some tattoos. What would you put on him?
A bleeding flying severed girl head with half her face ripped off.
Justin – I heard your dad was in Playgirl mag or something, had you ever entertained the thought of going Mike Honcho, following his footsteps?
Hahaha! He totally was. No, I don’t. Unless they think tattoos, beer, guts and beards are sexy then why not. He and his band Kid Courage were in the locker room at the mab in SF and Playgirl snuck in there and asked them to pose naked so the whole band did, they just did the soundtrack for that movie “Vamp” with Grace Jones so I guess that’s why they showed up.
Ilaria – Can you tell us more about the Keep Laughing project?
I wrote Keep Laughing in the summer of 2009 on one of my vintage typewriters, my friend Alex and Jimmy got it self published, Alex layed everything out, and Jimmy did all the grammar punctuation and journalism, it’s my life story from birth til 2009.
In 2006 I was shot in the head, rehabilitated physically, mentally and taught myself how to be left handed.
I have pictures along the way in the book of what I am talking about, and mention a few dreams I remember from my coma (couldn’t get pictures of those though, they are imprinted on my brain). It was a BLAST writing it. I’m working on a script for a film based on it right now.
Justin – I hope they make your movie – in it you can write your future to it thru Hollywood magic. Where are you in 15 years? And who’s the actor playing the future Devon Blood?
15 yrs? I would say in a bigger house where I grew up in Pacifica but on the coastline but that’s falling into the water so still in the bay, still happily married to my wife Monica, and Lola Mae will be 17 by then so I’m gonna do what my wife’s dad did when she brought a guy over and just sit on the couch in the living room polishing my guns so he doesn’t hurt my daughter, and painting. The actor playing me is Wesley Snipes.
Ilaria – What are your feelings about modern tattoo society?
I feel there is not enough carrying on or following the paths of tattooing that were paved before them: knowing the ropes of this, being a good person and doing right by those who give a damn.
Ilaria – What did skate culture teach you along the path? How do you feel about it now?
Skateboarding we were always hated outcasts and I love and follow that time to this day (even though I can’t skate anymore I will roll forever somehow).
Ilaria – Do you have any particular tattoo you are more connected to?
I’m highly connected to the tattoo my mom stick and poked on me in the 7th grade, it was my first one. In 2007 my mom came to Electriconi in Petaluma where I was being taken care of, it was Friday the 13th and I decided I was going to tattoo using my left hand and she was born on Friday the 13th so she wanted my first left handed tattoo.
Justin – What advice do you have for a serious tattoo collector that is intent on getting “one shot” Americanas tattoos?
No black = no way.
Ilaria – Any advice for the youngest generation?
Research, look through portfolios, don’t get crappy or good work by a crappy person just because they have a name in this. There are plenty of tattooers that are amazing and great people that only tattooers know about.
Justin – Can’t wait to meet ya dude, your story and the title of your book says it all,” Keep Laughing”. You are an inspiration my friend. Do you have any advice for the pessimistic personalities out there?
When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
Thank you so much for this wonderful and inspirational interview Devon. We both hope to meet you soon dude!