Lower East Side NYC. I’m on the floor of my 4-story walk up unable to move. After 15+ years of tattooing an average of 11 hours a day, my back finally gave out. 

 I’d had a couple years of back pain – always thought I’d fix it with yoga or something. But it was too late – I needed a cane to walk. Couldn’t stand without pain. Jeopardized my ability to provide and do what I love. 

Falling to the ground that day put things into perspective. Long days honing my craft and building my reputation suddenly meant nothing. For the first time in my life I was afraid. I’d never been so humbled. I ended up calling 911 and having an ambulance take me to the hospital.

The back of an ambulance offers a very different perspective.

 I took it easy for a couple weeks. Felt a bit better, then I worked a day in Spain and couldn’t walk the next morning. I flew home and got an MRI. It came back as “emergency.” My L5S1 disc was holding on by a thread.

Luke, humbled but not broken.

 Researching options and talking to friends and clients, I found a doctor who performed disc replacement surgeries. Unsure but having to act fast, I went to Germany and got the surgery.

Getting a closer look at the effects of 15+ years of tattooing. 

 It worked! I was on the road to recovery. After 9 weeks, I surfed for the first time. I’m tattooing again – without pain. I’m doing jiu jitsu. I’ve returned to my craft and my life better than ever.

On the road to recovery.


Graham Sellers

Very good news. Congrats. I would definitely add swimming to your exercise regiment. Ju Jitsu is an awesome art to have under your belt “so to speak”especially if you live and work in NY) your body needs to be in tip top condition to excel in it. Swimming exercises the entire body while supporting fragile tendons and ligaments. I would continue the JuJitsu by all all means but add swimming if possible. Find a pool with salt water vs chlorine if it’s available. In regards to Martial Arts. I find that it takes at least three classes per week to show continuous improvement. When I thought MA myself my classes were two hours long and I taught 6 days a week. Two classes per day. You may want to take that into consideration. Glad to hear you’re on the mend. Keep up the good work 👍🏼

Barry Rowland

Congratulations on your recovery! As you know, there’s nothing as important as your health.


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