Small business owner, investor, husband and father.
*This is not a pretty story but it is real. I hope that it can help others and maybe in that way it can have a happy ending.
Andrew M. Farish owner/artist of 816 Tattoo in Kansas City. He was born and raised in Kansas City, KS. Both of his parents had mental health problems, were alcoholics, and physically abusive. His father was in and out of prison all of his life until he died when Andrew was 10 years old. After his death the family problems worsened. His mother fell into a deep depression and would go months without speaking to him or his younger brother. No one in the family worked. In spite of this Andrew excelled in school getting straight A’s through most of elementary and middle school. His favorite subject was always art. His first memory is drawing.
He would win awards in school and eventually do a mural with Kansas City legend Jose Faus.
Sadly, trauma and poverty began to take their toll. Looking for understanding and acceptance, Andrew got involved in gang activity. Little by little his involvement became more and more serious. Without guidance or any example, when his mother became ill he tried to support the family with illegal activity. He did not know it was cancer and there was nothing anyone could do. Ignorant and desperate he fell into a trap that so many kids in Kansas City do.
In 2008, at 18 years old he was arrested for Armed Robbery and would end up doing 5 ½ years on the charges. While navigating the complex and dangerous world of maximum security prisons he would find whatever inspiration or motivation he could from the prison library. Books on art, business, psychology, and money management were checked out on a weekly basis. With nothing but time on his hands he rekindled his love for art. He started to sell his drawings to other inmates and they would get the designs tattooed. Eventually he picked up the homemade tattoo machine himself and started tattooing others. As business grew so did his self esteem and confidence. There was hope for a second chance at life through art.
In 2013 he was released and got an apprenticeship under award winning artist Jeremy Taylor. First at the shop and last to leave, he would learn the trade in the old school fashion. Duties included sweeping, mopping, designing tattoos,setting up and breaking down for 6 artists, and anything else that was needed. Without any money or transportation he would walk miles to the shop knowing this was his one shot at a better life. During this time, he met Yuri, the woman that would one day be his wife. Not really knowing how to love or be loved she would change all that. After 18 months his apprenticeship was complete and his mentor filed paperwork for his professional tattooist license. But there were more challenges to come.
In 2015 he was arrested again, this time for a crime he was innocent of. He spent 14 months in a cell, usually on 22-hour lock down fighting for his life. Alone and hopeless he wondered, “Is this really life?” Yuri never gave up hope and they got married in the middle of all this uncertainty. Eventually, after months of delays, Andrew was tried and found Not Guilty. He made a promise to himself to take his life as far as it could go no matter the stakes.
A free man again, he started another apprenticeship, obtained his license, and opened up his own shop. Though there were many challenges he continued to learn and adapt eventually building the 816 Tattoo into one of the most loved and respected shops in the city. There is a culture of gratitude and responsibility to the client and to the craft. Everyone deserves a great tattoo and if yesterday’s work was a 10/10 then today’s work should be an 11.
Outside of work, Andrew is a loving husband and active father to 2 boys. He hopes to be their role model and hero, to protect them from the dangers of the world, and prepare them for the wonders of it. To completely support them on their journeys. Family life and shop life are intertwined. It is all one life. They will know success is not only possible but guaranteed through hard and smart work. On top of owning and operating a business, Andrew has started to build a small real estate portfolio. Andrew also speaks to at-risk youth about the dangers and worthlessness of gang life and criminal activity. He hopes to start a workshop to teach the youth about entrepreneurship and skill training in the near future.