Success is not what you think it is, by Dan Henk

[divider]Dan Henk tattoo artist

One of the most common questions I get, is people asking how to get ahead. To become well known. How to “make it”. The vast majority seem to think there’s a simple trick to it. An avenue you take, a person you need to know, that sort of thing.


Well there is, but getting that important connection requires much more heart and work than most people realize. And, to be honest, more than most people have. Sure, there are a few people like Paris Hilton, that just luck into their fame and fortune. But I wouldn’t trade places with Paris for all her money. Those who get money and fame by just stumbling into it, produce nothing of value and are eventually reviled for just existing.


Chris Rock made a few comments in one of his stand ups that is actually a much wiser and deeper observation than might first appear. He talks about how there is a difference between a job, and a career. A job you work on within parameters. You only commit regimented hours to it, and step out side of the box exclusively during work time, and never very far. A career keeps you awake at night. You find yourself pouring in crazy hours for no money, and only a possible chance of a return. And you fail. A lot. But you pick yourself up, determined to put even more into the next project.

Frank Frazetta is one of my favorite painters. He is loaded with talent, and his style is so iconic it is copied en mass to this day. You know how he started? As a poor kid from Brooklyn who only went to an experimental art school for two years. His first break, if you want to call it that, was ghost illustrating the Sunday comic Lil Abner for Al Cap. He did that for seven years, and when Al fired him, he thought getting a job would be easy. That proved not to be the case, and he struggled. Struggled for quite a while, but he not only didn’t give up, he turned on the steam. His friend Roy Krenkel, running late as always on a book cover, convinced the publisher to let Frazetta take a stab. They kept the original, and paid very little, but that only stoked the fire. Frank did covers for magazines like Eerie for almost nothing, and illustrations for anyone he that would let him. Eventually it paid off, and he is recognized as one of the greats today.


Frank Miller, who wrote Batman: The Dark Knight, Sin City, Elektra: Assassin, and helped change the comic industry, started out as a poor kid living in Harlem. When it was really bad. He could barely pay rent off the penance DC Comics threw at him, but he sunk his nose in, burned the midnight candle, and look where he is today.


So, these aren’t tattoo artists, and people who are might be wondering how it relates to them. Well, its the exact same formula. You know how they say a boxing or MMA match is 15% talent and 85% stamina? That’s a metaphor for life. Put your all in something, and if you’re talented, it will pay off. If you’re talented but not willing to invest the time and energy, then I’ll have my burger medium rare and no fries on the side, thanks.

-Dan Dan Henk

Dan Henk is an award winning tattoo artist, illustrator, painter and author. In his spare time he’s also a contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine. He can be found at and look for him on Facebook  and Instagram – Find and FOLLOW him.

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Tattoo Artist since 1990 and creator/publisher of Tattoo Artist Magazine since 2003

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