It’s kind of funny how artists’ names, particularly in genres many of us are unfamiliar with, rise in stature in the public consciousness. Ron Rash, 39, is one of these, so when we started thinking about which artist might best represent Reno, and particularly the Midtown District, in the Biggest Little Best of Northern Nevada, Rash immediately leapt to mind. There’s just something that says “Reno” in his style: friendly, unique, classic-yet-modern. At any rate, as arts editor Brad Bynum pointed out, when we were talking over the options, everyone who knows him likes him because he’s a genuinely nice guy. He does his tattooing at Aces Tattoo, 681 S. Virginia St., a perennial winner in our annual poll of readers.
How did you get into tattooing, anyway?
Well, the long story is, I’ve been into it a long time. I’ve been getting tattooed over the course of 23 years, and always enjoyed the art itself, and I’ve had lots of friends in the business—Kevin [Cox], the owner of Aces, whom I’ve known for probably 25-26 years, just started asking me to give it a try and see if I wanted to do it for a living. At the time, I was already doing art, so he just kept asking me if I wanted to give it a try, so I finally said, “Sure.” And that was it. I loved it, and I just kept going.
How long ago was that?
That was four years ago.
And did you study art formally?
Not officially. I didn’t go to school for it or anything. I studied it myself. I’ve always been interested in art. My stepdad was a cartoonist. My mom worked in a signpainting shop in the ’70s. I’ve been around it forever. I’ve always had an interest in it. I just kept doodling and pursuing it.
That makes sense because your art had a cartoony style to it, but it also has a commercial style.
And that’s the thing. Both my parents—my mom eventually got into selling advertising for outdoor billboards, my dad has always been in advertising—so I’ve always been around that end of it as well.
You seemed somewhat surprised that you won best tattoo artist. Why does that surprise you?
Because there are some really good tattooers in Reno, and like I said, I’ve only been doing it professionally for four years, and that’s not a lot of time in the tattoo industry. I work around some of my favorite artists that I’ve ever known. You know, Rob Roy [Heistand], Kevin Cox, Elijah Cole—those guys are incredible artists.
In planning for this particular job, the Best of Northern Nevada, did you draw particular inspiration from anything, or what was your thinking on that?
First, I was a little stressed on that, thinking I needed to do some sort of theme or anything, but then I realized the theme could be the fact that it was done by me. I just approached it like I would any sort of painting or drawing or even a tattoo. Just taking the subject matter and turning it into something fun. I love drawing and painting animals, that’s kind of been my deal for a long time. So it was just natural to try to pair those things together.