Episode 11: Insight from an Austin Artist | Zulu

Zulu is best known as a celebrity tattoo artist — he has tattooed Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah, just to name a couple — but he is so much more than that. Zulu was the first African-American to open a tattoo shop in the United States, and he is famous, not just for his art, but for his unique approach. His motto is, “I never put a tattoo on you, I bring the tattoo out of you.” In today’s episode we are blessed to hear his wise insight on many topics, and especially to hear him talk about why he loves living in Austin!



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Key Takeaways:

[2:17] How did Zulu’s journey lead him to tattoo artistry, and eventually to Austin?

[3:41] Zulu moved to Los Angeles because he wanted to be a musician.

[4:25] Zulu had a successful career as a graphic designer, until an assignment for a peanut butter ad made him realize that he should do something else.

[5:27] Zulu had friends who asked him to design tattoos for them.

[6:50] Zulu’s tattoo process is unique.

[10:28] Zulu turns some customers away.

[11:54] Tattooing is an ancient artform, present in almost all cultures.

[13:38] What makes tattooing unique among art forms?

[14:57] The media has changed the culture surrounding tattoos.

[17:58] How and when did Zulu decide to get his facial tattoos?

[19:22] Zulu experienced discrimination when he opened his shop in 1991.

[21:13] What can Zulu tell us about the celebrities he has tattooed?

[23:23] Why did Zulu agree to tattoo two pieces of toast on a man’s arm?

[26:24] Zulu was attracted to the integrity of Austin.

[30:13] Zulu is excited for the future of Austin, because Austin doesn’t fear growth.

[31:30] Zulu likes to take visitors to explore downtown, and then to eat at the food trucks.

[32:47] Zulu loves The Elephant Room.

[33:14] What keeps Zulu up at night?

[37:45] Zulu also owns a painting business.

[39:03] Zulu’s favorite taco is Valentina’s brisket taco.

[40:32] Next week we’ll talk to Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette of Huston-Tillotson University.

The Taco:

Valentina’s | Brisket

Mentioned in This Episode:

Zulu Tattoo

Papasan Properties

The Elephant Room

Zulu on the Ancient Ink History Channel

Zulu Tattoo on YouTube

Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette



Download link | iTunes | Stitcher Radio | TuneIn | Google Play

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