Meet InkSlutt Dro, the godfather of Houston’s ink industry

Steven “InkSlutt Dro” Semien has been tattooing his customers for over two decades and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. InkSlutt Dro is the proud owner of InkSluttz Studio, which provides both piercing and tattoo services to his loyal, Houston customer base.

Rolling out caught up with Dro in the middle of a tattoo to ask him some questions about the industry.

Exactly how long have you been a tattoo artist?
23 years.

How did you train to become a tattoo artist?
A friend of mine taught me the basics in the beginning. I was mostly was self-taught. I learned from watching other people [and got better] over the years. When I got to the shop around other artists, that made me a lot better.

What artists and songs are you listening to at the shop now?
“Sleep Walking” by Mozzy

“Letter to My Son” by Don Trip

“Ocean Views” by Nipsey Hussle

“Str8 Like Dat” by Lo Trillinger

“Gangsta Love” by Mo3

Who are three tattoo artists who you feel changed the culture?
Nikko Hurtado, Paul Booth [and] Boog

Tell us about a tattoo experience that changed your life?
I did a tattoo on a young lady who lost her son to a driveby shooting in 3rd Ward (Houston). It really made me think about how easy it is for someone to lose their child at such a young age, how short life is, and how unexpectedly death can happen to anyone.

What’s the tattoo customers usually come to you for?
It’s not really a tattoo. This type of tattoo is actually more of a style. It’s called backshading and I do it pretty well.

What three skill sets do you feel are critical for any tattoo artist?
You’ve got to be a people person, be open-minded and have patience.

Can we get some advice for upcoming tattoo artists?
Invest in yourself, believe in yourself and don’t use old, outdated tattoo machines.

How many tattoos do you have right now?
Around maybe 70 or 80.

Let’s get one word would you use to describe your art?
Life. Tattooing has been my life and it saved my life. It gave my family life. It’s how I feed them. It has made my life what it is today.

What type of tattoo would you recommend to celebrate a marriage?
I hate it when couples get tattoos of each others names. I’d much rather tattoo a symbol like the logo where they first met, or something significant like that.

Where do you hope to be ten years from now?
Hopefully, I’ll own five shops and be able to retire.

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