I moved to Austin from Milwaukee in 2013 to immerse myself in a culture inspired by art and tattoos. This was one step among many taken to shake up and elevate my craft.
My oldest artistic experience is in photography. To me, photography is about seeing people, nature, and reality in novel ways. I try to capture and comment on reality in my work. I do this by following patterns set forth in natural laws and capturing truths about life observed with curiosity and openness. One way I do this is by bringing old photos back to life on the skin. Sometimes these are realistic replicas. Sometimes, they're stylized, conceptual, or surreal elements in a larger piece. Thus, I meld physical features that make us human with patterns that place us within the whole of nature.
My background and philosophy influence my art toward an evolution of traditional black and grey styles. I feel responsible to carry traditional tattooing forth with forward-thinking design and content.
My foremost influence remains my grandfather Fred Steffan. He was a sign painter and character artist in the ad industry in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Always larger than life in my mind, he left a trail of beautiful work in his wake. These brought a sense of accomplishment not only to him, but to generations of my family. I hope I can achieve a similar legacy to honor his memory.
Outside tattooing, I enjoy charcoal drawing and primitive photography methods. I am always learning. I travel to conventions and other studios to learn from and get tattooed by my favorite artists. I refine my craft by learning new fine art and tattooing techniques in workshops and private training. With my fine art, I try to bring a transcendent perspective to my tattoo work, to create something new and unique with my clients.
Besides practicing and honing my craft, I operate a tattoo aftercare business called Black Market Tattoo Care. My brother, a friend, and I created Black Market to offer something we wanted for ourselves. Our flagship product is an organic healing balm called Ink Rx. We make it with traditional medicine herbs selected for how they heal, condition, and maintain tattoos.
I work with clients who want to help create an original piece of art. My clients have a clear idea or vision. It may not be fleshed out, but they know the subject or theme. They have looked at my work and understand my style. They might have some inspiration put together, which is ideal but not required. That’s something we can work through together. And while they have a concept, they appreciate my work and want to combine our influences to create something unique.
Bring me an idea, a concept, an emotion, or a story. Tell me a lived experience: light or dark, pious or rebellious, redeeming or devastating in nature. Bring me something nuanced, the light wrapped up in darkness or the darkness hidden in the light. Or bring me something simple and clear that lends to working into that type of art. Together we’ll distill these down to a picture we want to show and an emotion we want to invoke. It is my goal for you to wear the tattoo with pride for life. A light, dark, and/or shadow aspect of yourself that stands the test of time.
I can't say enough good things about Cory's work. He did all of my tattoos. That raven with the womans face? Yeah, I wear that proudly every day. It's been a pleasure to see and then wear the amazingly creative designs he comes up with for me every time I go for another tattoo.
Cory James is an AMAZING Tattoo artist!!! I’ve been seeing him for over a year now, and he has made my idea come to life!!! Cory has always been very receptive to any amount of pain I’ve been feeling, and makes sure I’m ok after every break we take! I would recommend him to anyone looking for gray scale and detailed work.
Hit me up with questions or to book an appointment. Let’s make something unique together.