1. Where are you from??
I’m from North Carolina.
2. Where do you currently live??
I just recently moved to Asheville, NC after traveling for the last few years.
3. What Made you Want to Get your First Tattoo?/When did you first become interested in getting tattooed?
I got my first tattoo when I was in college. It’s a big black X on the inside of my arm. I have always been interested in tattoos but in high school I was always too scared to go into the local shops. When I went to college one of my professors was apprenticing to tattoo. He ended up doing my first tattoos.
4. Where did you get your first tattoo?
It was at a shop called Skin Grafix in Greenville, NC. It’s where I went to college and later apprenticed to tattoo.
5. How did you start tattooing?
Bill, one of my art professors, was apprenticing to tattoo. He gave me my first tattoo my sophomore year of college. When I kept getting tattooed at that shop I was eventually asked to apprentice. I was tattooing full time by the time I graduated college.
6. When you are not tattooing, how do you like to spend your free time?
I’m always working on something it seems. If I’m not tattooing, traveling to tattoo, etc, I’m usually working on freelance illustration work or painting for my solo work. I’m also working on recording music for a solo project that will be released sometime next year. Its pretty hectic these days. But I love it.
7. Who are your artistic influencers?/Mentors?
I’ve always been a fan of comic artists like Charles Burns, Basil Wolverton, Crumb etc. Tattoo wise I have always looked up to Dan Higgs, Dave Lum, Ed Hardy, Stoney St. Claire, Ben Corday. Folks like that.
8. Any heroes?
Probably too many to name.
9. How has being tattooed affected your life?
I’m really heavily tattooed. I could see a little change in how people interacted with me at first. Then I got my head completely tattooed. I get a lot of weird looks wherever I go. People treat me different. But, I went into it knowing that would happen and its fine. I just don’t like when people say rude things in public. I dont accost people and they should have the same respect I do for their personal space.
10. What tattoo has the most meaning for you?
My mom and dad both tattooed me. My mom tattooed the word “mom” on my leg and my dad did a outline of a sun on a horizon. Both the tattoos and the experience mean a lot to me.
11. What are your inspirations inside & outside of tattooing?
Daily Life – Work, people, personal experiences, travel, songs, books, movies, overhearing arguments, everything is an influence of some kind.
12. What tattoo has been your most favorite/memorable?
Lately, almost all of the tattoos I do are important to me in some way. It’s hard to differentiate.
13. Favorite shops to tattoo at?
Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn. Anthem Tattoo in Gainesvile, Fl. American Standard in Fort Collins, CO.
14. Favorite people to tattoo alongside ?
Matt Bivetto, Sleepy Dave, Matt Evans, Shawn Mcdonald, Joe Van Amber, Danny Reed, Jeremy Joachim, Kris Roberts, Matt Mebane, Glenn WIlson, Jeremy Sutton, Josh Edgnew, Greg Dyer…that’s a long list.
15. Favorite style of tattoos?
Illustrative. I like linear shading instead of whip shading these days. But, that changes depending on the tattoo.
16. Do you have a “specialty?”
I think this new style I’ve developed of being really linear is my specialty. It relates directly to my illustration work. I think they work together pretty well.
17. Best way to set up an appt.?
Email KerleyOnTheRoad@Gmail.com or instagram @mattitude
18. Do you have any favorite places to travel? & Where would you like to go?
I always like going to Philly for the convention. And, I love San Francisco. I’ll always love going to Brooklyn.
I’d like to go back to Texas and work some. Also, maybe the southwest like New Mexico or southern california.
19. How do your travels inspire the tattoos you like and like to do?
They are immediate in relation. Everything in my book “Kill The Lights. I’m Ready To Go” is directly related to traveling. Traveling has made me who I am and has helped me find my voice in tattooing. Without traveling I wouldn’t be where I am today. I owe a lot to traveling and everything to tattooing.
20. What music are you listening to currently?
On the turntable this week is John Prine, Future Islands, and John Moreland.
21. Last words?
I appreciate anyone that gets tattooed, buys paintings, prints, or shirts, talks to me at conventions, lets me sleep on their couch when I’m traveling, lets me tattoo next to them in their shop, and those that are my friends. Without constant support I don’t know where I would be. Thank you.
22. Shout outs?