My name is Max May.
My fascination with imagery and its creation was fostered from a young age. The only son of two mildly eccentric artists, I was constantly exposed to the creative process. My infatuation with the craft of tattooing began with a 90s tattoo publication in the class of my favorite elementary school teacher. Near the back pages it contained an image of a tattoo done by Don Ed Hardy. A full back tattoo of a Buddhist monk with a raging erection surrounded with viscera and cum, committing sepuku and attaining enlightenment. This bold, controversial and unapologetic piece, etched into some unknown persons being had a profound impact on me. Although I wouldn’t realize it until much later this was when I began to understand the vast potential this media represented.
My path into tattooing many years later was neither simple nor elegant. After being humbled by some of my earlier attempts I managed to find some sound direction in a shop in Santa Rosa, California where I could develop my skills. At the time, believing myself to be a proficient artist, I was quickly forced to admit that tattooing was much more demanding in a technical sense then I had first anticipated. However, this initial difficulty kept me engaged and gave me the motivation to pursue my craft with an even more dogged devotion.
I am eternally grateful to the microcosm of tattooing for the places it has allowed me to go. After some years of practice I found myself, to my surprise, possessing a set of skills that would allow me to travel, continue to expand my awareness and increase my understanding of my chosen path. I spent the next few years traveling, along the way picking up an amazing, supportive wife, many tattoos and even more stories. Stories that in turn influence my own personal aesthetic.
My tattoos and artwork are strongly rooted in Classic Traditional Tattooing. Traditional tattoos, in my opinion, carry the essence of the craft like a collective consciousness that spans multiple lifetimes. They are precise yet powerful; clever yet tough and represent a rare peek into distinctly American outsider art. I lean heavily on my traditional training while attempting to integrate imagery from my own personal narrative. I make little distinction between Eastern and Western influences. I am just as likely to draw inspiration from Irezumi or a Flemish etching as Bert Grim or Sailor Jerry.
I was most recently drawn to Dame of the West Tattoo in Scottsdale, Arizona because of the environment that Jon and Josh have created. The shop dynamic is and I enjoy working alongside such powerfully creative individuals.