to James Durbin
Durbin's Ink Collection
Published on August 1, 2015
by Steph Castor
If you didn't think an American Idol could have some impressive ink,
then think again. Singer James Durbin was a Top 4 contestant in Season
10 of the ever popular FOX program. Despite his elimination, Durbin
has gone on to inspire many Idol newcomers with his inked rock star
persona. Following his stint on American Idol, Durbin has launched a
Pledge Music campaign to help fund his upcoming album. Durbin sat down
to tell Tattoo.com about his marriage, his music, and some of his favorite
How old were you when you got your first tattoo, and what was the reason
My very first tattoo was a small red star on my inside left forearm.
One of my only memories of my Dad is that he was covered in tattoos.
Growing up and seeing pictures of him, and still to this day, he always
looked like a cool dude. I wasn’t going to get something big for
my first one— I didn’t know if I had the pain tolerance
and I was broke. Haha. So I picked the small red star, and as they say,
“You’ll be addicted.” I was, and the rest is inked.
Pick 3 of your favorite tattoos
and describe them/tell us about the history of each one.
In no particular order:
The Koi fish half sleeve on my right arm. I got the privilege to be
a guest on NY Ink and the bigger privilege of getting tattooed by the
amazing Ami James. I brought in the idea of wanting the Koi to stand
out from his thousands of Koi that he’s known for. I wanted mine
to have a “water color” look to it. One heavy handed six
hour sitting, plus a free sandwich and I was an extremely happy customer.
on my left forearm/upper wrist. This tattoo is extremely important to
me. It is one half of a “matching” tattoo with the other
half belonging to my wife, Heidi. Together they read “Forever
Yours…Faithfully” from the Journey song “Faithfully.”
This was Heidi’s very first tattoo, and just like me, she’s
now addicted. These words ring true to our relationship. They were the
decoration on our wedding cake, and the song played multiple times during
”Daddy” Popeye on my inside left forearm. The first and
only tattoo I ever wanted. Like I said, my dad is the only reason I
ever wanted tattoos in the first place. Lots of people that knew him
would call him “Popeye” because he would talk like him,
laugh like him, and his only bass warmup was the “Popeye the Sailor
Man” theme song. If that wasn’t enough, he had a tattoo
on his left forearm of Popeye with my name under it. There are few things
about him that really have a lasting impression on me, as I was so young
when we lost him, but this tattoo makes me feel so damn good every time
I look at it and think about him.
What is the most ridiculous tattoo you have ever seen?
I was on tour a couple of years ago. We had a day off and drove to Cedar
Point in Sandusky, Ohio. As we were waiting in line to ride “Top
Thrill Dragster” for the second time, we started to play “Who
Can Find the Shittiest Tattoo” game.
There were many top contenders, but I believe the worst we found during
that round was a camouflage striped tiger wielding an AK-47 in one hand
and an American flag in the other. Game over, man. Actually, it was
on a woman’s calf!
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I don’t have tons of different artists do my work, nor do I keep
tabs on lots of people— ain’t nobody got time fo' dat! All
the guys I’ve been fortunate enough to have tattoo me and enjoy
each-others company would be:
Andy Beswick of Good Luck
Tattoo in Santa Cruz, CA
Bob Magnante of True Art Tattoo in Santa Cruz, CA
Misty Galvan of Corralitos Tattoo in Corralios, CA
Matt Wear of Damask Tattoo in Seattle, WA
Jesse Parliman of The Gilded Lily Tattoos in Santa Cruz, CA
Woodrow “Woody” Robinson of Lovedog Tattoo in Santa Cruz,
Ami James of Love Hate Tattoo Club, Miami & Wooster Street Social
What is the next piece of work you would like to have done?
I’ve been asking myself this a lot lately. I’m really itching
to get my left arm finished and balanced. It’s so much fun getting
the tattoos— actually sitting in the chair and getting worked
on. I really enjoy that part. But I just can’t figure out what
it is that I want to get in the open area. There’s some really
good retail left open there and I’m overthinking it for sure.
I try and get tattoos that mean something to me. Some are impulsive
“$50 Sailor Jerry’s Flash” but most have a history,
a reason, and a meaning. My wife Heidi recently got her left sleeve
finished by an artist named Misty Galvan who owns and runs a One Woman
Shop out in the country called Corralitos Tattoo in Corralitos, CA.
I’m still so impressed by how spectacular her lines and color
are that I’ll be going to her for my next tattoo, wherever and
whatever I decide on.
Have you ever gotten a tattoo that you regretted? Describe.
My wife Heidi and I went in for our (formerly) usual "$50 Sailor
Jerry’s Flash.” Don’t say “ya get what ya pay
for,” because before this, everything we got was a perfect experience
with seasoned professionals. But this day wasn’t like the others.
This day we got stuck with a learner from out of town who was guesting
at this shop. My choice was a heart with “Celebrate” written
on a banner going across it to commemorate my new record that was about
to be released. Well, his was the heaviest hand I’ve ever had
the displeasure of being on the receiving end of. And that’s counting
six hours with Ami James. Our tattoos came out looking infected, uneven,
blotchy, etc. Once we got home, washed them off and couldn’t contain
how unhappy we both were, I wrote a very professional email to the shop,
as we are still regulars of the fine establishment. In return the owner/head
artist fixed both of our brutal tattoos, gave us a free tattoo, and
gave each of us gift cards towards our next tattoos. That’s a
shop owner who loves their shop and loves their clients. I look at it
this way, tons of people have giant tattoos they hate that they paid
a ton for. We have tiny tattoos that have been fixed, and we learn to
live with them. It could always be worse.
For more information on James
Durbin and his Pledge Music campaign click