tattoo CEO

by Art Chantry (

in 2008, i actually took a real job, a straight job. i was actually the DESIGN DIRECTOR at a SOFTWARE COMPANY!!! funny, eh? art chantry – mr. luddite, mr. “i hate computers” etc. – actually working for a software company as a design director? seems completely wrong to most of my friends. shocking, even.

in reality, i needed a job pretty bad back then. i’d just had my entire life sorta collapse and i moved back to my hometown to start everything over. i also had a huge amount of debt and back taxes to deal with. oh, and a place to live would have been nice, too.

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so, out of the blue, i get a contact through an old friend (katharine wolf, an old friend who live in the commune called ‘scud’ while i lived there, too.) she worked there as a designer (i knew her as an artist and sculptor). their old art director had sorta collapsed into his own personal problems. so, they needed someone fast. she recommended me. their boss (the owner, chief cook and bottle washer and all-around character) dean sleeper, hired me. so, i became the guy in charge of re-branding accessvia, a software/information company. pretty weird. great money, though. i actually had health insurance for the first time in my entire life.

dean was, like i said a real character. he was like no CEO i had ever met in my life. he was living a total ‘go-go’ life and it extended through his company . like most organizations headed by a visionary, the entire company structure was an extension of his personality. this can be great, but as time goes by, it can turn bad. but, damn, it was crazy and fun.

frankly, it wasn’t the best fit for me. i’m really not good at working in corporate environments. after being a freelancer for 40 years, i’m used to getting jobs done and keeping stuff flowing through my business quickly and efficiently just to make rent and survive. corporate structures seem to encourage exactly the opposite tack. stuff i would normally get done in a few weeks would take months and months and months. so, i was extremely frustrated most of the time.

after about a year, the economy tanked. accessvia was hit alongside everybody else and they had some layoffs. when my name got pulled, i was happy to go. i was totally stressed working there. however, i was totally debt free for the first time in my entire life. it was a great, life transforming thing to do, working there. it was a new start. i thank dean sleeper deeply for that experience.

to get an idea of exactly what my boss was like, take a look at this photo. that’s my old boss, dean sleeper. that’s his new tattoo that i designed with tattoo maestro owen connell (parlor F). dean finally got it applied (he was a tattoo virgin before this little application). he sent me this via email to show me he finally actually did it! note the secret hand signals he sent. i won’t tell you what it means.

the imagery is (in the central area) part of the extensive series of images and ideas we worked on for the branding of accessvia. basically, we took a wide selection of “black cat heads” and created a series of interchangeable “logos” and “trademarks” to use at random. in the software biz, NOBODY had anything like it, and that was also part of the appeal to dean. accessvia was unique in retail software applications and part of that uniqueness was their sheer outrageousness. the spirit of this image speaks to why.

the outer ring design was created by owen connell. he’s an extremely talented and artistic tattoo artist and painter. his work on both canvas and skin looks like that ring (only full color.) if you are interested in seeing more, i suggest you contact him (owen connell, parlor F). one of the interesting things about his tattoo work is that rather than emerge through the ranks of the tattoo world (essentially tattoo parlors and sailor/biker tats) he came to tattooing through a fine art interest. his paintings are widely collected and his design work has even b

used by microsoft. it just plain doesn’t look like everybody else’s tattoos.

but, then i’m prejudiced because he did my tattoo. he didn’t start it (it was started by the legendary ashleigh talbot back when she was tattooing. but, it was finished by owen. he was a logical choice because he taught ashleigh how to tattoo.

so, deans’ tattoo is a combo of two artists working together to apply a corporate ID to it’s CEO. go figger that one out. don’t you wish you had a boss like this?

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