My name is Jimmy Choss and I like tattoos a whole bunch. When I was a kid, if I saw someone with tattoos, I would look at then fanatically until my mother would nudge me and utter: “stop staring.” I’d use my allowance to buy Cracker Jacks for the tattoos; if there weren’t any I would get pissed off and throw them away. I used to save my Lickum & Stickum’s until I had enough to plaster them all over myself. When I was in the second grade, I started calling the only tattoo shop in Chicago at the time. I talked to the same guy every day, sometimes more than once. This went on for at least a month until my parents got an $800.00 phone bill, and I got a tanned behind.
Twenty years later, I received a formal apprenticeship from Robert Benedetti at Sunset Strip tattoo in Los Angeles. I was having lunch with Robert at Pink’s Hot Dogs one day, which are crazy good by the way, and I asked him how he got into the business. He looked at me and asked: “your from Chicagoland right? Well my friend, the late Cliff Raven opened the first tattoo shop in the City, the Chicago Tattoo Company on Belmont. He later sold the business, moved to California and opened Sunset Strip Tattoo, and eventually sold it to me.” I just about died when he told me this; because I realized Cliff was the guy I talked to on the phone when I was in the second grade. I knew at that moment I was destined to be a tattoo artist, and have been doing so since 2002.
I feel fortunate to be tattooing for a living, and lucky to have learned from a man who is so passionate about this art. I know that Robert’s passion added to my own enthusiasm and satisfaction I feel for my craft.
After my apprenticeship, I got my foot in the door with my first job from “Tennessee Dave” at West Coast Tattoo in downtown Los Angeles. Man does that dude have some stories to tell. Sadly, West Coast Tattoo is no longer, but Dave is now at Vintage Tattoo.
When I returned home from California I worked in a few shops in the area, and I even did a year stint at Elite Tattoo in Myrtle Beach, SC in 2006 before landing, in the very place I got my first tattoo, Bugaboo Tattoo in 2007.
I find when I’m tattooing women they tend to be more imaginative and allow me creative license with their pieces; while men tend to be more demanding and set on what they want. I like doing all styles of tattoos, but I really enjoy the ultimate challenge of doing cover-ups and custom pieces. I consider myself well-rounded and can do just about anything a person wants.