Las Vegas tattoo artist says work changed his life for the better

For Spring Valley resident Marcus Wooten, 34, the day doesn’t really begin until around 10 a.m. when he rolls out of bed, stumbles to his kitchen to make a cup of coffee and starts to plan it out as a tattoo artist at Umbrella Tattoo Studios, 5191 W. Charleston Ave.

“ I get to start my day a lot later than most people,” he said. “It kind of comes with the gig. You work at a tattoo shop, you just end up working later hours. When I worked on the Strip, before I came to where I am now, sometimes I would work from 9 a.m. to well past midnight. It just kind of depends on where you are.”

This sometimes nocturnal routine has changed quite a bit from the one Wooten endured daily a little more than four years ago when the Las Vegas native worked as the grocery manager at an Albertsons.

“It wasn’t a bad job,” he said. “It just wasn’t really me. I was always someone who was encouraging people to follow their dreams, but I wasn’t doing it.”

Wooten said at that time he wasn’t sure exactly what his dream was. He’d always been able to draw, and in high school and middle school, he doodled quite a bit but never took the hobby seriously.

According to Wooten, the majority of his friends are tattoo artists, and one day it occurred to him that he might enjoy becoming one.

“I was always around it,” he said. “I started to think, ‘Why not? I have an artistic side.’ Turns out I was really good at it.”

Wooten said a typical day in the life of a tattoo artist is anything but typical.

“There’s no other profession on the planet that is as interesting and varied as mine,” he said. “That’s mainly due to the fact that we never know what is going to walk through that door.”

Wooten said he tattoos teachers, bikers, firefighters, cops, strippers and even the occasional preacher.

“I’ve had some very entertaining requests,” he said. “The strangest to date has been some dude who wanted me to tattoo a steam whistle above his behind. That was a strange day.”

Wooten said the best part of his job can also be the worst.

“I love interacting with different kinds of people,” he said. “But, well, it can be interesting.”

Wooten added he is probably best known for his individualized style of neo-traditional work, which usually features a 1940s flair.

Las Vegas resident Cody Mumaw stops by the shop every once in a while to get inked and said Wooten has worked on him before.

“He definitely has a distinctive style,” Mumaw said, flashing a retro-looking nautical star on his right arm. “All of his stuff, from what I’ve seen, is hand-drawn. I like the stuff he’s done for me.”

Wooten said in five years he hopes to run his own shop, something he never would have seen himself doing 10 years ago.

“Man, what I would just tell people is to follow your dream,” he said. “It won’t always be easy. There will be naysayers. But you have to do what works for your life and not worry about what other people are saying.”

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Donnelly at or 380-4535.

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