COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — What do Malik Harrison, Mayin Williams, EJ Liddell, and Mookie Cooper all have in common? They’ve been inked by a humble, but highly skilled, tattoo artist on Morse Road.
“T.” King, owner of Tattoo Kings & Cuts, started drawing and painting as a kid.
“It’s a blessing because my mother [Mary King] was an artist,” he said. “I used to watch her do oil paintings of people’s families, she did the painting behind the counter. But I went to school for business, hence the shop.”
Although the shop officially opened in May, “T” — as everyone calls him — had been tattooing for 13 years. Three years ago, an OSU player booked King for a tattoo.
“My first OSU player was Cade Stover,” King remembered, “and it went from there. I do my best every time to give what they want. Everybody has got tattoos and it’s mainstream… they want someone who’s going to treat them right.”
T’s shop wall gives insights into what makes these players tick.
“That’s Gee Scott right there,” said King, pointing to a picture on his portfolio wall.
Tattooed on Scott is a thought-provoking black-and-gray-realism portrait of Muhammad Ali with a gag across his mouth.
Malik Harrison seems to be looking back on his time in Columbus: the city is reflected in an eye, placed on the back of his knee.
Jameson Williams’ tattoo says “Sky’s the limit.” Miyan Williams sports an intricate chest piece, while EJ Liddell, entering the draft this year, shows his strength with a lion and crown.
A tiger stares out from the forearm of Mookie Cooper, one of the rare uses of color on the wall, with piercing red eyes lined in white, a stunning effect.
Javon Bess, who attended high school in Gahanna, shows his father in shadow, and commemorates Bess’s elevation to the NBA.
King is a family man, through and through, with portraits of his triplets on the wall. His wife is a true partner, and they talk about the business decisions together.
“It’s been a blessing because the tattoo industry has been doing really well,” he said. “I’ve got triplets, my wife, and my kids at home. It’s been a mess with COVID-19, but we keep the proper precautions to keep our families safe.
“It’s a blessing coming to work, being able to leave my mark on people,” he added. “People being happy and proud to show off the work. It’s a blessing being able to take care of my family doing it, and giving others the opportunity to take care of their families.”
Tattoo Kings & Cuts currently has four artists and two barbers. King is booked through the end of the year. The design process starts with reference pictures and ideas, and then goes to an estimated price range and tattoo time. You can follow his latest designs on Instagram @tatt2t.