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Behind the Seams: Mike Ski of True Hand Society

Posted by Craig Schroeder on

Tattoos have long been a part of the DNA here at CMMP, and especially those tattoos from longtime friend of the brand, Mike Ski of True Hand Society. We've been collaborating with artists over the years to create custom linings so working with Mike was a natural collaboration for us to integrate his signature tattoo style into our garments. The new series of 6 linings feature his hand drawn icons that can be commissioned to line any suit, blazer or jacket. 

CMMP: How did you get your start in tattooing? How did that passion turn your tattoo business into a full graphic design studio?

MIKE: This summer marked the 30 year anniversary since I did my first tattoo. I started the summer I graduated from High School as a reaction to some friends causally commenting that I should tattoo since I was the one who had always been into art and drawing. While I don’t at all recommend it to anyone, I ordered a set of equipment from the back of a magazine and just started doing it. My first shop experience was working for a guy who had successfully broken out of prison with help from his wife and some wire cutters. Later that same year, I went off to school for Illustration and was almost kicked out for tattooing from my dorm room. I eventually completed school for graphic design and had been doing art for local and regional hardcore bands. Some of those bands went on to be bigger bands which eventually led me to landing me my first “real job” in New York City as Art Director at a music merchandising company. I designed a ton of Slipknot shirts, met Jerry Only from the Misfits, and spent a day designing with Peter Steele from Type O Negative sitting next to me at my desk. (RIP). Meanwhile, I tattooed on the weekends at Lotus Tattoo in Long Island.After another decade of playing in bands & tattooing on the road, I worked as Art Director for a record label when Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, Gym Class Heroes and Paramore all had Gold and Platinum Records. I continued to work as a freelance designer and tattooer until 2013 when I needed to put all these things in one proper space. True Hand was born. We are now a 13 person Creative Studio ft. Graphic Design and Custom Tattooing by-Appointment.

CMMP: You have a unique style of tattooing, what influenced you to focus on that style?

MIKE: I became fascinated by traditional American tattoo designs when a past girlfriend gave me a book of Sailor Jerry Designs in the early 90’s. I loved the bold look and folk art aspect of it coupled with the primitiveness of the designs. It looked solid and legible from a distance which is how tattoos are viewed in the world much of the time. True Hand as a design team has provided a unique opportunity for this style of illustration to inform our branding, and vice versa. Over many years, I’d like to think that it progressed into some version of it that is interesting, the path continues.

CMMP: With the new lining collaboration with CMMP, how did you come up with those specific patterns for the lining?

MIKE: Working with CMMP is always an opportunity to explore some of our favorite subject matter. This collection was based on 3 subjects: 1) Shipwrecks & Sirens (Nautical inspiration). 2) Gold, Girls, Guns: 60’s espionage and spycraft and… 3) Death Proof: a collection of all our fave tuff shit. From there I just draw draw draw and arrange them around until they all fit together in a cool repeat and create multiple color ways that reflect a little bit of True Hand brand colors and all around style. IMO the perfect pairing for CMPP’s impeccable craftsmanship and True Hand’s crass sophistication.

CMMP: Anything new in the works for you?

MIKE: A gallery show of our design work hosted by West Chester University, a local distillery rebrand, branding a new music venue, tattooing tattooing tattooing, and hanging hard with 3 Italian Greyhounds regularly.

 Check out the full collection of Mike Ski x CMMP linings here. 


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