Casey: Alright Drew, we are going to start with the basics. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Drew: My names Drew and I like to Party! I currently live in Fayetteville Arkansas. I make a lot of fly fishing based tattoos and artwork. I fish a whole lot!
Casey: How long have you been fly fishing? How long have you been tattooing? When did you decide to make a career from combining the two very different lifestyles?
Drew: I learned to fly fish first at summer camp when I was 12, but I didn’t really dive into it until maybe six years ago. I got licensed to tattoo professionally in 2010 and had a brief apprenticeship before that. It wasn’t until late 2015 that I really started pushing doing fishing tattoos. I just really enjoyed fish art and figured why not combine it with my trade. I had no idea that it would end up being a thing!
Casey: For those of you that don’t follow Drew’s art, he does some of the most recognizable fish tattoos in the industry. Bold designs with elaborate color palettes, his tattoos are one of a kind. On that note, Drew, what is your favorite fish species to tattoo?
Drew: Bluegills for sure! Long eared sunfish would be more specific, but I generalize most panfish as bluegills. They have really neat color palettes and are super fun to tattoo!
Casey: Do a good portion of your tattoo clients fish? Is your tattoo station a giant web of fish tales?
Drew: I only get to do a fishing tattoo maybe once a week when I’m at home. Being that I’ve been tattooing in Fayetteville for several years now, everyone that wants a fishing tattoo from me already has it. So I don’t do as many as I’d like. When I’m on the road though, I only do fishing tattoos, which is Awesome! I’m sure the other tattooers at shops I guest at get tired of hearing about fish
Casey: Combining Tattooing and Fly Fishing has allowed you to do quite a bit of traveling. Do you try and combine the the two on your trips? Also, Do usually try and plan around the fishing or the tattooing first?
Drew: Both! Luckily for me, the areas with the best fishing are that areas were fishing culture thrives. Occasionally I’ll plan a trip based strictly around tattooing, take a fly rod, and end up having a client point me in the right direction to a fish or two. It always kind of works out!
Casey: If you could tattoo and fish in any destination in the world where would that be?
Drew: It’s a Hard question. Tattooing in Bolivia doesn’t sound as cool as fishing there. Same goes for the Amazon. Maybe Iceland? Definitely would love to make a working fishinging trip to Alberta! Do people need tattoos on Christmas Island?
Casey: With the rapid growth of both the fly fishing and tattoo cultures are you seeing a spike in people wanting fish tattoos?
Drew: I haven’t been pushing fishing tattoos long enough to really answer that question well. I mean, I definitely do more fish than I did when I didn’t push them. I can say, that I’m pretty sure there are more trout tattoos being made nowadays than ever before. There’s a different brand of fly fisherman these days, and they happen to be getting more rad than the last generation!
Casey: Being heavily tattooed, for better or worse has it brought up any interesting social interactions while on the water or in fly shops? If so do you mind telling us a story?
Drew: Not really in the way you’d imagine. You’d think someone would think twice about low holing the guy with the body suit, but that doesn’t seem to stop anyone. I feel like when I have to tell someone that their fishing like an asshole that they do take me very seriously. But I’m usually very nice and happy to help anyone I meet on the river as long as they have decent etiquette. As far as in fly shops goes,I have been snubbed by a handful employees based on how I look. But nothing too heavy. I don’t mind it really. I knew what I was doing when I got so tattooed. I dig being on the scummy side of trout anyway.
Casey: What is your opinion on how social media and other main stream avenues have effected tattooing and fly fishing culture?
Drew: Well, it’s a necessary evil for sure. Tattooing and fly fishing have never been so popular as they are in the age of Instagram. I make a living because of it. It also has connected me with a ton of awesome people I would have otherwise never known. But, at the same time, I feel like it dilutes the pureness of both. I think social media is the poison AND the well, if that makes sense.
Casey: What do your fellow tattooers that don’t fly fish think about your lifestyle?
Drew: I imagine they think I’m happy and probably a little gimmicky. That’s ok with me I guess. Hopefully they think that I’m doing a good job. I’m just trying to make well applied, fun tattoos and meet like minded people.
Casey: When drawing, tattooing, painting your fish designs you have a very unique style. Of course art is a never ending journey but how long did it take you to really develop the fishy style of art you’ve developed?
Drew: Thank you so much for thinking that Ihave some style! I struggle with that everyday. I’m honestly still trying to dial it in.
Casey: Do you have places near your tattoo shop that you like to fish?
Drew: I can be on a killer smallmouth stream within 10 minutes of leaving the shop! It’s awesome!
Casey: If you could fish with anyone dead or alive who would it be?
Drew: As a fly fisherman I know I should say Hemingway… but… probably Keanu Reeves.
Casey: Do you prefer to target warm water or cold water species?
Drew: If it swims, has fins, and might take a fly, I’m down to catch it. Trout like me the most But I like every fish
Casey: Modelo and Tacos or PBR and Pizza?
Drew: Is whiskey and ice cream and option?
Casey: You a bobber man or anti indicator?
Drew: It all depends on the water that I’m fishing. Living in the south out trout streams are huge rivers, so Czech nymphing and tight lining are not very practical. When I’m on the road, I try and switch it up and go without an indicator if the stream allows. But really, I’d throw a fly below a beach ball if its what caught fish.
Casey: Snake Head, Alligator gar, Arapaima. Tattoo one, wrestle one, train one to do magic tricks, go!
Drew: I’d tattoo a some sick barbed wire on the snakehead, thumb wrestle the Alligator Gar, and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to catch an Arapaima, but they already have a great disappearing act.
Casey: If you had a super power to enhance your fishing abilities what would it be?
Drew: Teleportation probably. I wouldn’t want to actual fishing part to be any easier, but getting to a spot via teleporting would be killer. I’d only use it to get to the location though. Creeping into position to cast or running down the beach towards blitzing fish is all part of the fun. I’d hate to ruin it
Casey: I understand you are going on a tattoo and fishing road trip? Can you tell us a little about that?
Drew: Shit yeah! I’m trying to get to a point where I take a trip every month to tattoo and fish. My girlfriend Katie is coming with me on this one. We leave September 30th. Stopping to tattoo in Denver for a few days and hopefully catch a Kokanee if we’re not too late. The to Salt Lake City to tattoo for a couple days and maybe catch a few grayling. We don’t have them in the South and I’d love to meet a few. Then we’re headed to Reno to tattoo for a few days and fish pyramid lake. Going to a lot a few days of no plans for driving home. That away we can fish where ever we feel the need! We’re going to try and film a lot so we can make a vlog of the whole trip! It’s going to be a blast
Casey: So if someone wanted to get tattooed by you, use one of your designs or by some art, what is the best form of contact?
Drew: Instagram is probably the best way to contact me. @drewlr. I have a bigcartel store that I sell art, stickers, pins, and shirts on. If you want to use any of my designs for a tattoo and don’t want to make the trip to me, go for it! Just send me a photo of your finished tattoo. Feel free to screenshot whatever you’d like off my page. I do ask that you use the ones that I post that are on paper. Paintings, drawing, etc.. if I drew it for a custom tattoo, then you’d be stealing it from my client, and not me. Which isn’t nice. But if i posted it as art on paper, have at it!
Casey: Is there anything you’d like to add for the readers
Drew: Can I mention my fishing.tattooing vlog here or is that lame?
Thanks for the time, Drew. Give him a follow on Instagram @drewlr. Be sure to check out Casey’s other article about Pyramid Lake below: