Ryan Henry has become one of the most prominent tattoo artists in the country. The Chicago native is the founder of 9Mag and the face of one of VH1’s most successful shows, “Black Ink Crew: Chicago.”
In an exclusive interview with Henry, we discussed 9Mag, fatherhood, leadership and being an advocate for victims of domestic abuse.
Congratulations on season five of “Black Ink Crew: Chicago. Did you imagine the show going into its fifth season with so much popularity?
I never imagined going into five seasons and I never imagined going into five seasons separated from people that I started with. We are so far removed from the genuine feel we used to have together. I’ve also grown into something way different than I was back then. It’s different but it’s a blessing all the same.
Why do you think people like the cast?
I think what people took from it is that we are all different types of people. When we first started the show we didn’t have any drama because we were all cool; we were family.
What has caused the current friction?
Hidden agendas caused this. It allowed for different egos and different attitudes to grow because I didn’t handle business the way I needed to handle it.
Do you think that taking your place as the leader caused some of the friction?
Absolutely, If I allow people to continue to run over me as I did before, which I had been comfortable doing, I would have never gotten to the level of business where I am now.
You have mentioned your sister contributing to your success even after the tragedy of losing her to violence. Why is it important for you to keep her memory alive?
I’ve always dialed back from talking about my sister and my niece because I didn’t want the sympathy. I never wanted to subject them to that.
But, when I did talk about it and how I feel people in social media would reach out to me just to relate and share their stories, it allowed me to become an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
How do your kids view you?
I’m the coolest dad in the school to everybody else but they just see me as [their] dad. Every morning I tell my kids I love them and be successful. These are things we should do as fathers.
What’s next for 9Mag and what words do you have for those looking to follow their dreams?
We just opened up one of the largest tattoo shops in the city. We are expanding to other cities.
Follow your dreams, be persistent. Take everything as constructive criticism. Take the no’s as an opportunity to do it differently. It’s your dream, chase it.