www.Merriam-Webster.com: "FAMILY" fam·i·ly noun ˈfam-l�", ˈfa-mə- : A
group of individuals living under one roof and usually under one head
of household. A people or group of peoples regarded as deriving from a
common stock and united by certain convictions or a common
affiliation. Any of various social units differing from but regarded
as equivalent to the traditional family. A unit of a crime syndicate
(as the Mafia) operating within a geographic area.
My family is the single most important thing in my life. This is how I
was raised. My parents (who just celebrated their 42nd wedding
anniversary) always taught me to put family first, to protect and cherish
those that are closest to me. This is an extremely American concept
in many ways; living, bleeding and dying for what we hold dear.
Selflessness, focus on the whole, sacrifice, loyalty against all that
would stand to do harm to the unit or any individual affiliated with
that unit, these are the core values that have been beaten into me
since I was old enough to walk. I am a direct product of that specific
environment, as is our studio.
My father always did, and still does, put his family first. We are his
#1 priority no matter what. He is the head of our household in every
way, a intense force, that doesn't take sh*t from anyone. He is
driven, efficient, insanely successful, always on the move, always 10
steps ahead of everyone around him, and he always keeps the best
interest of the family in mind. The single most influential person in
my life is my dad, Mr. Bond. He was the "best man" at my own wedding.
Which, ironically, occurred shortly after opening ALL OR NOTHING. This
was the same exact time that the word "Family" started to take on a
larger, broader, and newer meaning to me.
I have learned over the last decade that family is not solely defined
by blood. I have based ALL OR NOTHING and our family of clients and
artists entirely on what I saw growing up in my own household. I
worked in slews of studios and never felt like I was where I belonged.
Tattoo studios are generally never based on anything like this, at
least in my 20 years of experience. But in our case it just happened,
not by design, but naturally. It has been beautiful to watch. A work
of art developing in front of my eyes.
We are open to the public a minimum of 12 hours a day, 364 days a year.
Our staff generally sees each other more than we see our own wives,
parents, pets, and kids. The name of our studio has evolved into a
mantra, a way of life, and become a conveyor belt of success. We are
an assembly line of personal and career development. I have watched as
people have come, grown, developed, changed, and in many cases, moved
on forever and changed into an entirely different person. Hundreds of
talented and motivated warriors have come and changed. An almost
magical growth has occurred in so many lives; web guys, graphics guys,
film editors, hell, even some marriages happened as a result of folks
meeting in our lobby originally. Car wrecks have happened too, lots of
sleepless nights in hospitals. I once lived in a hospital, on a chair,
for 23 days with one of our apprentices, who was here from Canada, and
had no "immediate" family in the U.S. However, she had us, her family
then, and now. I have spent more time in hospitals since we opened,
than the rest of my life put together. Baby births are always a party,
we have had so many I can't count 'em!
Our home is our studio. We are most comfortable there, and it is there
that feeds all of the family in one way or another. Pushing us to do
more and be more than we think we can. Headquarters.
Other businesses have been birthed, careers having nothing to do with
tattooing have relentlessly grown as a result of some level of
involvement in our leviathan of perseverance. Our film guy was a
janitor, now he owns his own production company for example. (I'm
proud of you Scott!) He wanted to work in video, and now does
countless music videos for amazing bands, and produced a film
(VICKtory to the Underdog) that has been a featured film fest
selection in 6 countries and won countless awards. He is just one
example in a pile of hundreds.
Josh Carlton's child took her first steps here in Atlanta during his
move to our studio.
Dave Tedder was homeless and smelly when we found him, now he is a
famous artist who teaches international seminars on advanced tattooing
and is a proud papa of a gorgeous young daughter. I was present (we
all were) for the birth of his child, and I was the best man at his
Sean Herman will be the first to tell you that he used to eat out of
dumpsters. Now he is one of the most influential artists in the world.
I'm proud of you Sean.
As one of our own hardworking apprentices grew into a tattoo artist,
he also tied the knot, with one of Tony Mancia's Clients! And he made
us wear pink ties! Thanks Jarvis! We drank moonshine and got wasted. I
think Dave fell asleep in the bean dip.
Two of our best clients, and closest family members, Caycee and Corey
Hamilton met at a convention, winning a bunch of awards for us. Fell
in love, and got married in a midget wrestling ring, where I made out
with a hot little person in front of 2000+ people. There was free
Tim Orth had a gorgeous baby boy with his lovely wife right smack dab
in the middle of all of us. I brought whiskey, champagne, and cigars to
the hospital and we all stayed for hours.
My own loyal assistant Nicole honored me by asking me to give her away
at her wedding. I was present for the birth of her daughter, Emma, and
was honored to help her through a rough patch involving some
complications that later turned out fine. I am "Uncle Brandon" to her
children, and to all of the ALL OR NOTHING children. I love her son Julian as though
he were my own.
And car wrecks, holy sh*t we have been through some car wrecks.
Surgeries, treatments, physical therapy, stitches, injuries, broken
bones, alcohol poisoning, illnesses, death and sadness are ALL just
part of being a family.
Last year we even suffered the worst possible loss of all. A child. We
were all brought together by a courageous young man, Madison
Vennekamp, Chris's eldest son. When he was originally diagnosed, we
immediately began to raise funds, gifts, and love from all corners of
the world, and our family of clients and fans exploded with support.
It was beautiful. We saw him fight relentlessly, fearlessly,
and struggle to not surrender. We grew to know and love Madison as a man,
not a child.
Cancer has a way of maturing someone and he was no
exception. I learned from him more than I can write here, and I still
tear up when I think about the end of that journey. I still personally
have not been able to come to terms with that. But we were all in
attendance at the funeral, even though Chris no longer works with us.
It was one of the most powerful afternoons of my entire life. I will
be forever changed. We all were changed forever, as a family.
Our clients, friends, and fans have ALWAYS been equally regarded as
family. When someone comes to our studio to get tattooed, they are
welcomed with open arms. We have always been very conscious of the
fact that without the loyal support of our client corner of the
family, we would have nothing going on at all. Period.
Those that wait patiently for their appointments, tirelessly heal
gigantic sessions, and endure hours of intense tattooing at the
highest level. The dedicated hardcore ALL OR NOTHING army that flies to
us from all corners of the globe is one that cannot be f*cked with.
These are the same relatives that you see in every magazine, anytime
our family is mentioned.
They are our representatives, going forth
worldwide and telling stories of a place where tattoos exceed all
expectations, a place where hotel and transportation is handled, and
courtesy, respect, and love flow throughout. These are the warriors who
attend conventions with us and for us. The collectors that end up with
more awards than tattoos. They, themselves, in many cases, become well
known, and receive their own articles and interviews. Terms like
"YOU'RE the DARTH VADER GUY!" permeate the background of many rooms
they enter. They are our bloodline, flowing in every direction and
bringing life to all of us.
I am the backbone, refusing to give in, pushing everything in an
upward direction, and consistently focused on supporting the whole.
However, I am useless without those around me, and I am only as
successful as the whole.
Relationships blossom, marriages happen, babies are born, portfolios
develop, projects are completed, awards are won, waiting lists and
income grow, girlfriends become fiance's, babies take their first
steps, first homes are purchased, and for much of this we actually
have to wear a tie. I still, to this day, have to get someone to tie my
damn tie for me, but I wear it proudly as I look on and watch lives
Our Familia grows everyday in every way. I am honored to be a part of
it. I love you all. I am proud of you all. Thank you.
Love - BB