By Lauren Belcher | firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos By Phillip C. Sunkel IV
“I can’t draw.” Those words were the excuse Phil Grech used until he quit his job and became a tattoo artist. Then, Grech turned his “corporate liberation” into a book.
Although Grech has always been a writer, he became an author by chance.
Six months after “self-publishing” a book of short stories and selling them at his tattoo shop, Grech got a phone call from an editor at Blue Cubicle Press. The man had come across Grech’s book and was raving about one story in particular: “Don’t Waste Your Hands.” He told him that if he could make it longer — it was originally 1,200 words — his company would like to publish it. Grech agreed and has been selling his book ever since.
“Don’t Waste Your Hands,” published in July 2009, is the story of Grech’s transformation from a corporate drone into a tattoo artist.
In the book, Grech tells the story of how he received his first tattoo at age 17: a lion on his left forearm. Ten years later, his back is covered and he has full sleeves on his arms and legs. While spending all that time in tattoo shops, Grech develops friendships with the artists and Mighty Mike’s Tattoos becomes his main hangout.
Tired of his office life, Grech decides he wants to do something different with his life. He feels as though he is wasting his hands working in a cubicle for a living. With the help of his new friends, Grech sees an opportunity to use his hands: tattooing. After years of working at a job he hates, he makes a change, quits his job and becomes a tattoo artist.
Much like his personality, Grech’s writing style is sarcastic. As he describes life in his office versus the tattoo shop, it is clear that he does not mind being blunt. In one scene, a woman tells Grech his shirt has a hole in it. After he sarcastically thanks the woman for noticing, she asks him if he talks to his loved ones the same way. His reply? “I have no loved ones. I ate them.”
Grech’s writing aims to accurately capture human thoughts and feelings. He is reflective and it reads like stream of consciousness.
Last January, Grech, 28, moved to St. Augustine from Port St. Lucie. Although his reasons for moving varied, none of them were “to attend Flagler College.” But after months of being unable to acquire a tattooing job, Grech decided to enroll into Flagler for fall of 2010.
He is a philosophy and English major. He plans to graduate in 2012.
His favorite hobby is, to sit on his porch, “drink Whiskey and have a conversation.” For him, it’s not about what you’re doing but who you’re doing it with.
“You can have more fun with your best friend at a red light,” Grech said, “than with some mediocre a–hole going down a water slide.”
Grech is in the process of publishing a much longer book, “Colony Under the Bridge,” a fictional story about a man who learns how to survive after becoming homeless in St. Augustine. He hopes to get the book published soon.
“I don’t want to be one of those writers that takes himself so seriously,” he said. “You know: the guy with the black turtleneck sitting in the café writing his novel?…I just want to write books and get them published.”
If you’d like to know more about Grech, check out his website of short stories at www.philgrech.com. “Don’t Waste Your Hands” is available at the Flagler College Bookstore.