During the past few months I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Blacksburg tattoo artist Chris Toler and his friend/PR/social media guru Zach Decker on a couple of occasions for two separate articles.
The first appeared in The Burgs in January and another is slated for the May edition of Skin and Ink magazine.
In my most recent sit down with the fellas we talked about their recent trip to the DC Tattoo Expo in Arlington. I’ve never been to a tattoo convention, in fact, I’ve never been to any convention that didn’t contain some version of the words “Christ” and “Youth,” so I asked them to describe the scene for me.
At some point in the interview, Chris dropped a little reviling knowledge about himself.
“I’m like Jesus,” he said.
I’m pretty sure, well like 90 percent sure, he was joking, but the more I thought about our conversation, the more I realized how spot on he was about both he and his partner.
To be fair, I have no idea where Chris and Zach really stand on religious issues, but there was plenty of conversation between the two that day which likely wouldn’t fly on even that very back pew at church. Maybe that’s why I like these guys so much, they’re super real and refuse to put on a show for anyone, including myself.
Regardless, fact is, there is a lot about them that is very much like Jesus.
They told me about the variety of folks they run into at these tattoo conventions. From first-timers to folks searching for blank canvas on their skin. There was even one dude who had actually taken steps to make himself physically look like a demon, they said.
Chatting it up with such a diverse crowd seemed a little daunting to me. I mean, I often find myself subconsciously sizing people up the moment I meet them and searching for ways to relate.
But Chris and Zach don’t do this. They don’t need to because they’ve tapped into a little secret about human beings — we’re really all the same.
“When you talk to everyone there you realize despite how overboard you are with your body modifications, how extravagant you are with it, everyone still has the same conversations. Everyone is into the same kinds of things,” Chris said.
Their buddy and filmmaker John Hale, who followed along creating a documentary of the event, took the pair’s acceptance of everyone a step further.
“Every single people that walked by the booth, they acted like they knew them. Like they were family,” John said.
Now that’s like Jesus.
That’s how he approached people. No matter how they looked, who their friends were, what their job was, or what what baggage they were carrying, they were family. That’s how he talked to them and that’s how he met their needs.
I need to start viewing the people I meet, and the ones I already know, as if they’re family. Some will be saved, other perhaps not, but all are just as valuable as one of God’s children as I am and all of them, whether they realize it or not, have the exact same need as me — God’s love.
I need to start treating people more like Chris and Zach do, and more like Jesus did.