Here at InkAddict, we love to collaborate with companies we believe in, so of course we’re excited to have Workhorse Irons as one of our Ink X Battle Sponsors! We talked with Johnny Clauson of Workhorse Irons about what goes into their custom machines, what sets them apart from other machine builders, and the machine SOBA built for the Ink X Battle Grand Prize Winner!
How and when did Workhorse Irons start?
Workhorse started officially in 2003 with a mission to provide better tools to the tattoo trade, by reputable builders, at affordable prices. When it started Workhorse was a partnership between Seth Ciferri and BJ "SOBA" Johnson with a builder lineup consisting of Seth, SOBA, Aaron Cain, and Adam Ciferri. Seth later stepped down as partner, and SOBA took full ownership so Seth could focus on building machines and other various projects.
We have since expanded beyond our original builder lineup to also include Cory Rogers, Mike Pike, Chris Smith, Marv Lerning, and Juan Puente, plus some rotary machines from our friends at FK Irons. We also expanded our focus and now offer higher end custom machines as well as the full gamut of tattoo supplies a shop might need.
Tell us about the Machine built for the Ink X Battle prize - Who built it? Was it a collab?
The prize machine was built by SOBA and is what we would call an OG Brass Walker Liner. This particular model though does have some history and was originally cast in 1998 by Seth Ciferri after some correspondence with Mike Malone.
The frame has obvious roots taking influence from the early Spaulding and Rogers "Supreme", which was rumored to have been designed by Johnny Walker. Turns out though it was not, he actually had a hand in designing the Spaulding Rogers "Lightweight", but not the Supreme. Seth called it a Walker anyway for two reasons: First, as a nod to who many thought was the originator and second, because there were no machines at the time being called a "Walker".
Seth later passed the rights for this model on to SOBA who has built them in various styles since.
This particular machine built for the Ink X Battle is a one off Brass Walker with a candy powder coat finish with laser etched artwork by tattoo artist Justin Fults.
What sets your machines apart from other companies?
Each of our machine builders have well over 10 years of experience tattooing, some over 20 years, and shit I think Pike has over 40 and he's only about 50 years old hahaha. We are deeply rooted in tattooing and do not make compromises. Everything we do is for the greater good of tattooing and the longevity of tattooing, no quick sales or shortcuts here. We are in this for the long haul.
I think SOBA may have said it best in one of our Workhorse videos, "Workhorse represents a last shred of tattooers who give a fuck". That's not to say we are the only people that give a fuck, but as a company we represent something different than most, we aren't solely in this for money, we actually care about tattooing and work hard each day to do what's best for tattooing as a whole....not just what's best for us individually.
What made you want to sponsor the Ink X Battle?
InkAddict is a Michigan based company, much like us, that also cares deeply for tattooing and works with various tattoo artists we know. It's great to connect with a community of artists on a project such as this and mix things up a bit. Literally any artist, known or unknown has the opportunity to have their work showcased and promoted by a company with a big reach. The Ink X Battle is a great way for some artists to compete and get their work out there, that's a great opportunity....plus really it's just fun to do shit like this.
How would someone go about ordering a custom machine?
Custom machines from our builders are usually available on our website in each of our machine builder's categories. The majority of custom machines sold and available are already built and ready to go. Sometimes builders will take requests and make something built to order, but most of our machine builders are pretty slammed building Workhorse machines or various customs and do not have time for individual requests. For the most part just keep an eye on our site, our builders sites (those that have them) and our builder's Instagram accounts for the opportunity to acquire a custom.
Does each machine builder come up with their own machine designs?
Yes, the process for a Workhorse machine getting designed and built looks something like this - the builder comes up with a design (typically something they have been building for sometime as a custom), we then replicate the frame design with our in-house machine shop, we then machine all the necessary components to the builder's specifications and ship the builder the frames plus all the necessary components....the builder then assembles and fine tunes the machines and sends them back to us for us to sell. For customs, the builders either buy parts and components from us, machine them themselves, or acquire them elsewhere...then they build the machines, send them to us and we sell them.
Pretty straight forward, and allows us to increase consistency and quality, while also reducing some costs by having shared machining and parts.
Does each builder have their own signature style?
Yes each builder has their own style of tattooing, which also lends to their own style of machine building. This results in us having a full range of machine offerings to cover literally any and all styles of tattooing as well as numerous styles of aesthetics.
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