Alex Holiday has his ex-girlfriend to thank for tattooing, and he’s got tattooing to thank for ending that relationship.
When Holiday fell into his apprenticeship five years ago through some accidental networking at punk shows, he had no tattoos, a suspended license due to a DUI, and little direction beyond his part-time job working with kindergarteners in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Once the Lynwood native started focusing on his apprenticeship in Whittier, Holiday was so busy that his then-girlfriend decided they both needed to focus on their own lives. From that point on, the heartbroken artist knew he needed to succeed as a tattoo artist to make it worth losing such a special relationship.
“One of the first tattoos I got was the Joy Division cover of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ to mark when my girlfriend broke up with me,” Holiday says. “She got me back into art while I was doing bad in school and didn’t know where I was going. When she dumped me after that, I knew that I had to take tattooing seriously.”
Following a dispute with management after his two years as an apprentice, Holiday began giving back to the scene that got him into the industry in the first place. Without a shop to call home, the young tattooer became one of the resident artists for the East LA punk scene. For over a year, Holiday honed his craft on an endless stream of band logos, album covers, and other music-related tattoos.
“I was always waiting for the weekend to go to punk shows,” Holiday says. “Some people literally just get nothing but band logos because they think it looks cool, and some people get tattoos like they’re marking a territory. My old mentor used to get a tattoo every time his band would go somewhere new, like this is the life of the road tattoos.”
Holiday is currently serving in a managerial role at Channel Street Tattoo Parlor in San Pedro before he follows his former colleagues to Ace of Hearts Tattoo at its new location. With Ace of Hearts’ ownership moving the flagship to Long Beach while opening a sister shop in its former location, the change in personnel (and name) is giving Holiday time to reflect on everything he’s learned in his two years at the South Bay shop.
“It all goes back to staying humble,” Holiday says. “I still keep a journal that I write in anything something happens, whether it’s good or bad. I mark the date and time, so I can look back on it and remember everything that’s happened. It’s a warming feeling.”
As for the future, Holiday’s looking forward to establishing himself on a bigger scale.
“Last year was just about getting my foot in a shop,” says Holiday, who now has a growing Instagram following. “This year, it’s about the transition to Long Beach, but also meeting new people and doing conventions and guest spots. I’m looking forward to doing what I love and getting to travel with it as well. Every time I open a door, it seems like there’s another hallway of doors, I just want to see where it all goes.”
It’s been a few years since Holiday and his muse have seen much of each other, but that’s not deterring him from trying to get back with the woman who inspired his career.
“It’s almost ironic now the roles have changed, and she’s too busy with nursing school and working in a hospital while taking care of her family,” Holiday says. “A lot of guys make fun of me for it and tell me to move on, but I just can’t. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have even gotten into tattooing.”
Channel Street Tattoo Parlor, 639 W Channel St, San Pedro, (310) 684-1400. Instagram: @alex_holiday