"I'm making Jackson better, one tattoo at a time."
It's just that simple for Andy McCrory, owner and tattoo artist at Ye Old Skull Tattoo in downtown Jackson.
For one, he sees himself as a classical tattoo artist, preferring traditional American motifs and style. And second, Andy feels like tattoo repair work could keep in business in perpetuity.
"I see so many tattoos in need of rescue," he says.
It was his first tattoo, at age 14, that got Andy started down this path. He remembers getting a small cross by a questionable character in a trailer, using a contraption that was the scariest thing he ever saw.
"I got in trouble for that when I got home," Andy says.
That night, a teenaged Andy went home and figured there's got to be a better way. He built his own tattoo machine there on the spot.
From there, he worked at Underground Ink in Michigan Center for a few years, and opened up his own shop on the corner of Morrell St. and Brown St. soon afterward. Then he found the downtown location, on Mechanic St., and has run Ye Old Skull Tattoo there ever since.
No bones about it: Andy sees tattoos as an art form, when done right.
"My customers are allowing me to put my art on them," Andy says. "That's flattering. It's like putting my name on their arm."
His own style comes from a background in graphic arts and screen printing, combined with comic books, horror movies, and dark art.
"If I got to do what I want to do, it'd be skulls and crossbones for everybody," Andy says.
If you want an opinion about tattoos, and come-lately tattoo artists, Andy will readily volunteer a few. He calls tribal tattoos a "waste of black ink and real estate." He doesn't cater to trends, like dolphins and (lately) watercolors. And he doesn't think just anybody with a few art skills should be doing tattoos.
“I'm making Jackson better, one tattoo at a time.”
"You can draw anything on paper, but skin is not paper," Andy says. "Everyone thinks they can do it with a machine from the pawn shop. It's a slap in the face of us guys who have been doing it forever."
Andy doesn't just do tattoos. He's what you call a creative busy body. Like when he took up painting, just to try it. Or when he sings in a band. Or tackles rebuilding his '51 DeSoto Spartan Coupe and '94 Harley-Davidson FXR.
"I don't sleep much. I need a lot of hobbies," he says. "I have excessive creative energy."
Jackson is a good town for all that artistry, Andy says. There is plenty of opportunity, and it's easy for someone to find their niche.
"Say what you will about this town - I've made a pretty good living," he says. "Not many artists really make money on art. No one buys it until they're dead. Tattoos aren't like that."