October 2, 2023

Zac Adams serves as managing member of The Inkeeper’s Tattoo Parlor in Canton.
He works with his girlfriend Lauren, and he has a 2-year-old daughter named Willow Jean. The family has a couple of snakes, a few dogs and five cats.
Adams graduated from Massillon’s Washington High School in 2006. He learned tattooing from different people around Massillon and developed a friendship with the artist who did his second tattoo.
“I became a permanent fixture in his apartment,” he said. “From store runs to making stencils and cleaning equipment, I was always around. From there, I found a real shop called Underground in Canton owned by Frank Ullman. He took me on as an apprentice for a short while showing me the ways of a professional. I quickly learned the huge difference between house tattooing and professional tattooing and decided right then I would pursue the legit route.”
It wasn’t long before his path led him to Sharp Images in Orrville, where he started seeing more of an artistic side of tattooing. He started to build up some clientele and ended up doing the first of many conventions.
“Arin [Hicks] had a great way of connecting with people and securing lifelong clients and loyal customers; something I try to emulate to this day,” Adams said.
He then moved to California and later North Carolina. In Holly Ridge, North Carolina, he started work at Atomic Wave and was introduced to Joe Wensil who was immersed in the history of tattooing. Wensil had transformed an old gas station outside of Camp Lejuene into a working tattoo museum.
Adams said there were signed photos of the founders of modern tattooing: Bowery Stan Moskowitz, Paul Rogers and Norman Keith Collins (a.k.a. Sailor Jerry) were just a few.
“Joe taught me the importance of working long days and staying late to make sure you didn’t ever let a paying customer leave without getting tattooed,” he said.
“I started taking on a lot more clientele and expanding my portfolio and meeting some killer artists around the city of Wilmington.”
Adams also met Drew Beavers out of Cadillac Custom. Working with him was a turning point in his artwork and tattooing.
“I did a game changing piece late one Saturday night that rewired the way I was doing things,” he said. “From that point on, I knew I had to come back to Ohio and open my own parlor. I quickly found a spot with an old tattooer in a small room for rent off Cleveland Avenue. Of course, after a short while, the bottom fell out. The rent wasn’t getting paid, the bills were behind, and the doors were about to be locked with our stuff inside. After some quick thinking and lucky calls to the right people, I had my own shop.”
He paid the back rent, cleared the bills, and got the health department’s approval on Nov. 4, 2016.
The shop continued to grow and Adams decided he needed help. He began mentoring another artist, Lauren, and reached out to Drew from the Carolinas and convinced him to come join the crew.
“Five wonderful years later, we now own the building we started in. We have five amazing, extremely talented artists: Drew Beavers, Lauren Sisouphanh, Tim Eakin, Santos Acosta and myself,” he said. “Along with two great apprentices Blaze Spangler and Lenny Fatigati, we have a diverse team of people that care about the client not just the art or the money.
“Our motto at the Inkeeper’s is ‘Wear Your Story.’ We want everyone that comes through those doors to be able to tell the story they want to tell, and not be stuck with the skin they are in,” Adams said.
The Inkeeper’s awards include Repository’s “Best of” runner-up 2018 and 2019; winner 2020; Repository’s “Readers Choice” 2021; Akron hot list winner 2018; Youngstown classic two-time “Best of day” winner; and multiple first-, second- and third-place trophies at numerous conventions around the U.S.
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By far the most satisfying thing about being a tattoo artist is the reaction you get from a client when they see the finished piece. There’s nothing like seeing someone leave feeling empowered and confident after walking in being embarrassed of their old tattoo or ashamed of their body.
The connections and relationships made on a daily basis from taking the time and effort to put someone else first and allow them their time to shine is an incredibly rewarding experience. I got into tattooing for the money but I continued tattooing because I fell in love with what it could do.
It’s hard to say how many tattoos I’ve done but if I have to guess somewhere in the ballpark of 1,000 to 1,200.
The long nights add up when you get to thinking about it. I’ve developed more of a work/home-life schedule recently, so the quantity of the work has come down whereas the quality has definitely increased.
The pieces have gotten more and more elaborate over the years and I’m finishing full backs and sleeves I started many moons ago.
I’ve got about 15 pieces that come to mind for my most elaborate. Each one taking more than 20 hours to complete and numerous sessions sometimes taking years.
I take it as such a humbling honor to put something on someone for their entire lives. It is a blood oath you take to the grave and it’s not to be taken lightly. I used to do my own tattoos when I was just starting out but nowadays I like to sit back and let someone else deliver the pain.
There are so many incredible artists out there and I’ve got plenty of skin left to get under needle.
Of course all the crew at The Inkeeper’s, I’m constantly feeding off the creativity all around me.
Really into Ilya Fominyh, Waler Montero, Robby Latos and Josh Duffy, all monsters innovating the industry. I look up to those guys and keep pushing myself to be a more disciplined artist.
Listening to a lot of Action Bronson and MF DOOM, Alice In Chains, Tool, Pink Floyd … the way they wrote those songs and how serious they took their craft inspires me to no end. The synesthesia between music and tattooing is evident in every note, line, sound and color.
Da Vinci and H.R. Giger drawings are frequently juxtaposed with my own and the audiobooks of Marco Pierre White, Robert Kiyosaki and Grant Cardone playing in my road worn headphones cut through the noise of the day. “Steal from one and its plagiarism, steal from many and it’s research,” according to Steven Wright.
If one song could play when I come through a door, it would have to be Queen’s “Bicycle Race.”
It’s a masterpiece and my kid loves it when I sing all the parts at the top of my lungs and make the faces. Bryan May’s guitar parts are so subtle and tasteful, and Freddie’s voice is amazing. Greatest entrance song ever.
Editor’s note: Five questions with … is a Sunday feature that showcases a member of the Stark County community. If you’d like to recommend someone to participate, send an email to newsroom@cantonrep.com.


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