He’s been known as Halo since he was three years old. It was a nickname from his grandfather, but it stuck, and now the one-word moniker seems rather appropriate for a man operating a tattoo shop.
Halo—real name Sean Patrick—is well known in the tattooing community as owner of Black Lotus Tatoo in Severn. But he’ll soon get a bigger profile nationally when he appears on the reality show Ink Master on Spike.
“At first, I wasn’t really big on the TV show tattooing thing,” he admitted during a recent interview with Patch. “There was a stigma about it. But, I think it’s one of the best things I’ve done for my career.”
Halo can't divulge the outcome of the show, which offers a $100,000 prize to the winner. But he's planning a watch party for the premier on Feb. 25.
The son of a soldier, Halo grew up on Fort Meade. He got his start tattooing as an apprentice at a parlor in Brooklyn, MD. After a time, he began attending conventions, where’d he’d get tips and advice from artists from all over the country. He set out on his own, renting space at a small shop in Severn while also tattooing on the road. After gaining some attention from people in the tattoo industry, Halo was offered a chance to be on Season 3 of Ink Masters, but declined.
It was last year when Halo decided to open Black Lotus, and he was offered the chance to be on the show again. He almost passed once more, but signed on after realizing it could benefit the business.
“I said no at first, because it seemed like a bad idea,” he said. “But it was one of those things where for all the guys in the shop, it would bring business to everyone. I have nine guys that work here.”
On Ink Master, 17 tattoo artists compete in a series of challenges, and their work is judged by a panel that includes Dave Navarro, a guitarist and member of the band Jane’s Addiction.
With a mohawk hairstyle and tattoos all over his body, Halo said he was cast as the “rulebreaker” on the show. He scoffed at the label, but said he understood it was all for TV.
Most of the show, save for a live season finale, has been already taped. He said that despite his initial hesitancy, it was a career highlight.
“It’s one of the most enlightening things,” he said. “When you have to try your hardest, it brings out another side of you that you didn’t know you had.”
But the challenge of the show was hardly the toughest thing he's dealt with in recent years.
“If I Can’t Tattoo, I’d Rather Die”
About two years ago, Halo was diagnosed with cancer. He had surgery to remove a testicle—photos of it are displayed on the wall at Black Lotus—but balked at further cancer treatments to address the cancerous cells that lingered in his lymph nodes. Radiation and chemotherapy would have made tattooing nearly impossible, so he eschewed traditional treatments in favor of an alternative treatment known as Gerson Therapy.
Based on the notion of cleansing the body of all toxins, the therapy is not a treatment endorsed by the most in the medical community. But Halo said that after 11 months, he found himself cancer-free. He had also lost more than 100 pounds and had a different outlook on life.
“If felt like ‘if I can’t tattoo, I’d rather die,’” he said. “When you have a near-death experience, the things you cling to are other people. I was closer to my family. My relationship with my girlfriend got stronger. When you’re working and life is just moving, you don’t think about those things.”
Koi Fish and Dragons
Halo is not one to stress over his art. He trusts his abilities. Clients will usually enter and get a tattoo after a short consultation; he rarely draws detailed plans on paper first.
During a recent visit, Rebecca Lawson enters with a request for a large tattoo featuring a koi fish turning into a dragon. She shows Halo pictures from her iPad. Halo sketches his vision on a brown paper bag. Lawson would have an outline of the tattoo on her right ribcage by the afternoon.
This was not Lawson’s first tattoo from Halo. Her parents, Pat and Jack, are also heavily tattooed with Halo’s work.
“He never gets to tattoo only one of us,” said Pat Lawson, who has tattoos with names of her two children on her legs. “He’s done our whole family.”
Black Lotus is planning an Ink Master premier watch party at a location to be determined. The Ink Master season premier will be Feb. 25 at 10 p.m.
Black Lotus is located in the Severn Square Shopping Center on Annapolis Road.