Today we’d like to introduce you to Travis Ross.
Travis, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I came to LA in 2009, from Long Beach, CA. We moved around a lot as a kid, I had lived in Arizona, Minnesota, Nevada and California by the time I turned 13. I made the decision to move out, and give up a future position on the Cerritos College basketball team to get away from my family and the turmoil that was happening at the time around the time I graduated high school. After being homeless, overdosing and a failed attempt at making a clothing company, I decided to come out to LA and pursue another love of mine, music.
When I came to LA, I immediately got to work and booked my first show with just two songs. My first show was iconic to me, I opened up for Tha Dogg Pound on July 4th, 2009 in a small club. I toured as an underground hip hop artist, opening for other big acts, selling tickets for stage time and even performing in a strip club for around a year. Most of this time I had been waiting tables at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, first in Long Beach and later on in Santa Monica at the pier. I also worked for a watch company called Reactor for a stint as well, but overall I did not like being an employee or focusing anytime on something I didn’t love.
I randomly got into tattooing that year as well, I was getting a lot of tattoos at the time, and was enamoured with everything about it. After complaining repeatedly, a friend taught me how to watercolor old Sailor Jerry Designs. I had stacks of them built up and then pursued an apprenticeship at a well-known shop at the time in Hollywood. After about a year there, I didn’t see things going in a direction that would help me learn, and I was slowing down making music and performing as well. I made the decision to hang the mic up and quit the shop the same week. After a few failed attempts out of my apartment, I finally left Bubba’s for good and pursued an apprenticeship with Jason Brown and Donovan Faulkner at S.T Tattoo. After showing up a few times, they decided to give me a shot.
My first week of my apprenticeship, they both left to a convention and I got arrested in the shop. They thankfully kept me around and after about a year, I was quite restless and decided to go full time down on the Venice boardwalk. The first shop I worked in was run by a hustler with no tattoo experience and way too many shops. It was disgusting and managed by his father in law, who slept all day in the roach-infested shop. I worked off a 2×4 and a piece of glass barely big enough for a dental bib. I bounced around the boardwalk for a year, until Jason invited me back to S.T Tattoo and thought I was good enough.
Shortly after coming back, they took me to my first convention. I fell in love immediately with tattooing and my current girlfriend, Bernadette. After that I went to every convention I possibly could, I felt like a kid in a candy store every time. So many artists I looked up to would be tattooing, and I would soak up whatever I could. I moved to Orange County for a short stint, which ended with me putting everything in storage and hitting the road for about three years straight. I toured all around the states, doing conventions and guest spots, catching up with family I hadn’t seen in years. But the money runs quick on the road, and some places weren’t as successful as others, I slept in a parking garage in Hawaii one night (no complaints, it was fucking Hawaii), a car in Seattle in the colder October nights and many other odd places. I eventually toured Europe, tattooing in a bar on the canals of Amsterdam, with friends in South France, Rome and Spain. It was life-changing, and around that time, I got two emails that forever changed my life as well.
I had just been through a very extensive self-help and leadership program and was on a mission to truly make my dreams come true. Some friends and I had started a small movement called T.R.Y.B.E and wanted to share the tools we had learned. I was doing workshops in LA with adults with the intention of moving into schools and prisons. I went to Europe and one morning I woke up with an email from Inkmaster. A little less than a week later, I was contacted about a show from Europe coming to MTV in the states called “Just Tattoo of Us” (the show was later re-titled “How Far is Tattoo Far?”). After going through both casting processes, both offered me a contract. I chose MTV and “How Far is Tattoo Far?” which has now completed two seasons.
Currently, I must say things are exactly where I have always wanted them. I now reside in Santa Monica, CA and surf and workout five days a week. I still travel quite a bit as well. In April earlier this year, I started my own production company called Leave A Mark Productions with a client, Aaron Larson from Duluth, MN. Myself and producer Alex Rinks took a small crew out to Northern Ireland and shot a pilot completely funded by our company and the last-minute investment from Aaron. We’ve since edited a sizzle reel and pilot and are currently pitching to multiple networks and production companies. I was the host of the show and co-producer with Alex, it taught me quite a bit about what goes into production before, during and after.
Aaron and I also started our own venture called The Lost Cove Co. early last month. It is a tattoo and apparel pop up shop that will be traveling for the next year and eventually opening up shop in West LA. We have a pop up in December in Los Angeles at Dretti’s, a good friend and celebrity barber. Also in January 202o, we have a pop-up shop in the Miller Hill Mall in Duluth, MN. I have artists from all over coming out and we are debuting our full apparel line and collaborations with Unfollow Club (sunglasses) and Duluth Pack (handmade backpacks and bags) and are currently working on our own models with both companies as well.
T.R.Y.B.E is still going strong, I have shifted gears to primarily doing the workshops at local high schools in LA and juvenile detention centers. I’ve been able to do three workshops this school year so far and hope to expand to other districts and prisons in the near future.
I’m extremely grateful to have found a way to turn hardship into drive and will power. And I hope to help many others do the same.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It was never smooth. As a kid, I dealt with abuse and drugs and alcohol repeatedly, lived in foster homes and saw a lot of things a child shouldn’t see. I was arrested for my first felony at 12 and was in the legal system for most of the years following up to age 25. I have been homeless multiple times, sometimes in a car, sometimes with no shelter. I’ve lived in shelters as well. I overdosed at 21, my best friend found me and rushed me to the ER to save my life.
I’ve failed in business numerous times, bad partnerships, lack of knowledge of money or the way businesses are run. I’ve tried to launch tattoo products and apparel lines that have failed. But the knowledge gained from each failure is pure gold. You can’t pay for that, you can only live it. And when it fails pick yourself up, find a new approach and hit it again.
Please tell us about The Lost Cove Co., Leave A Mark Productions and The T.R.Y.B.E Movement.
With tattooing and The Lost Cove Co., I’m looking to bring a higher-end traveling experience, encompassed with the culture of tattoo and apparel that I grew up on. We are looking to focus on more of a custom tattoo driven atmosphere, bringing artists from around the world to different locations in malls, and other pop up shop scenarios.
I’m currently specializing in a higher contrast style of black and grey with a twist of surrealism. I’m really looking to push the boundaries of this spectrum in the next year, I’m going get as weird as possible with concepts and mashing together unlikely compositional pairings. I definitely like to create tattoos with a story and meaning, but sometimes it’s awesome to get strange for no apparent reason but the appeal of the style. On the business side of things, I think with tattooing and The Lost Cove Co both alike, I’m looking to make them brand-oriented, looking at the big picture and starting to collaborate with brands outside of tattooing. I think I’ve created a unique approach that really works for me and allows me to be as authentic as possible, even while doing reality TV.
I’m most proud of all three business ventures and how they’ve been able to create opportunities to bring in a business partner and set up solid foundations for each. Within eight months we created a production company, filmed a pilot in Northern Ireland, started a pop-up venture and launched a full apparel line for our mall stop in Duluth, Minnesota for the month of January 2020. With the right team, anything is possible.
With Leave A Mark productions we are looking to specialize in Docu-series and documentaries that tell important stories and are captivated with a very distinct and artistic style of shooting. Stories that uplift and inspire, cutting out made-up drama or the dark clouds that can surround reality TV at times. We are mainly looking to inspire others, with our content and business model of taking creative control. All of these combine make this a truly special project that we have put tireless amounts of work into.
T.R.Y.B.E is ever-changing and evolving. The only label I would like to put on it is that we are looking to make an impact with tools and emotional intelligence that I believe should be taught to everyone in school. We have a mission to bring this to the forefront of the educational and prison systems by continuing to do the workshops in California and one day around the world. It’s a one step at a time passion project that I think will take more shape in the next coming years with again finding the right team and implementing what’s been learned up until to now. My proudest moment was my first workshop, getting through it and seeing the change and realisation that can be attained within a few hours while standing as a vessel and the communication of it all. The human mind is our greatest tool, and it as any it needs to be sharpened and tuned. The workshops do focus on aspects of using art as a method of dealing with trauma, and I think that makes us a bit different than others!
Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
The first memory that comes to mind was winning a soccer tournament in Minnesota with my traveling soccer team. We didn’t expect to win, our coaches told us to just play our best, and we did. We played better than our best and came together as a team to win. We ran through the hallways blasting The Beatles “Revolution” all night. Our team name was The Revolution and that weekend a teammate gave me the CD as a birthday gift. Everyone was elated, on cloud nine and I will never forget it.
- Website: www.TravisRossArt.com www.TheLostCoveCo.com www.LeaveAMarkProductions.com
- Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
- Instagram: @travisrossart @thelostcoveco @leaveamarkproductions
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/thelostcoveco