May 27th, 2014

How To Get Tattooed By Me

Recently I’ve changed the way I handle my schedule. For a while now I’ve been booking out months in advance, which is tough on me and my clients. So now I will no longer be booking appointments more than two months out. Instead, I will be making a list with spots for a limited amount of new projects each month: 7 large-scale/ongoing pieces, and 3 single-session tattoos. I want to make sure I have enough time to devote to each of my clients and am able to finish projects in a more timely fashion, so I’m going to try to be selective about what new projects I take on and only commit to things that I’m really excited about and that I feel will give me the chance to offer my best self as an artist.

Feel free to call my shop 212-736-3001 and ask about scheduling a free in-person consultation. I’m at the shop Wednesday – Saturday and always prefer to talk in person. In my experience a 5 minute conversation in person usually saves us both 5 emails and leaves both of us feeling more positive about the project. I’m really horrible at keeping up with my email load. I’m just one person that is trying to run a tattoo shop with 12 employees and manage my personal workload at the same time. I work on people. Not a computer and ask that you please don’t get frustrated by the lack of a timely response in email   (If you’re coming to New York from out of town or are interested in getting tattooed by me at a convention or during one of my guest spots, please email me at info at adamguyhays dot com. IF YOU’RE LOCAL PLEASE COME BY IN PERSON.)

Once we’ve discussed a project in person, I’ll take all your contact info  and a deposit (Miniumum $100, cash only), which will guarantee you a spot for a given month. Before the beginning of that month, I will get in touch to arrange an in-depth consult and specific appointment dates. I think this will be easier on me and on my clients, and will make it possible for me to fit the pieces I’m really stoked about into my schedule. I’m looking forward to talking to y’all and hearing your best ideas for tattoos.





April 12th, 2019


IMG_2261After 15 years in NYC the time has finally come for me to seek other opportunities. I’ll be moving in June 2019 to Denver,CO. I’ll be a taking a little time and guesting around the region until I find my new home there. Anyone interested in tattoo work can please email me, I’ll be reaching out soon with guest spots and conventions there.  NYC clients don’t stress, I’ve got tons of clients here and don’t plan to abandon you. I’ll be back every few months to continue to wrap up existing pieces and squeeze in a few fun ones while I can.

Thanks to all for the support over the years. I’m looking forward to what new horizons bring.  -Adam

September 21st, 2016

Project List Signup

In an attempt to put out more of what I think is my best work I’m compiling an email subscription list. I’ll be sending out emails every so often detailing possible projects including sketches, references and descriptions. if you’d like to be kept in the loop to consider one for yourself please do.

Subscribe to my project list

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June 20th, 2015

Recent tattoos

I’ll always be a fan of animal tattoos. I’m constantly trying to find new ways of adding ornament or pattern into them to make them more original.  If you have an idea for a tattoo feel free to contact me at    

June 20th, 2015

Star Wars Goodness

Seems like everytime I post in here it’s to say sorry it’s been so long. I’m trying to get back on top of recapping all the fun times I’ve had the last year, and this is a stand out to me. Star Wars Celebration happened in Anaheim, CA a couple months ago. My friends Vinny Romanelli , Shannon Ritchie and I were able to tattoo out of a booth in the tattoo pavilion as part of Marc Draven’s Ink Fusion Empire. The organization combines tattooing with other counter and pop culture events. We’re able to make friends and clients that share a similar passion for all things nerdy. I just wanted to say thanks to all that got tattooed or picked up schwagg in support of what I do.  It’s a great event and I look forward to the next one.                 

January 3rd, 2015

Breaking Borders Seminar

Breaking Borders, Tips Tricks and techniques to help take your artwork beyond flash.

This seminar is a comprehensive look at my painting process. It will include:
- Forethought and planning. Making the most out of your work.
- A materials breakdown and pros and cons of different mediums.
- Various illustration and pen and ink techniques
- The differences in watercolor techniques and their multi applications to various artwork.
- Tips and tricks to make your art better.

There’ll be lecturing and workshop time as we work together on a small painting.
Seminar provided supplies includes:
1- screenprint
1-seminar booklet
1- high quality print to accompany the booklet.

The seminar should run about 3 hours and covers everything to help you turn a hobby into a career. The seminar costs 200$ including everything.
For info on getting in email me at

Red Rocket Tattoo, NYC Feb 1

Summit Tattoo Invitational, Breckenridge, Colorado March 20&22


March 23rd, 2014

Tattoo Pitches

In the hopes of staying fresh in my artistic endeavors and in trying to avoid too much repetition in the imagery that gets tattooed today I’d like to pitch these ideas out there and see if anyone would be interested in getting my version of any of these ideas. My usual wait time for tattoos is a few months but if anyone is interested in any of these please email me at and we can see about getting you in much quicker;)

Pieces I’m interested in doing:

• I’ve got some good ideas for some art nouveau inspired roses. Or just roses in general. These are great single session tattoos.

• Animals with ornamental details, like this painting series I just finished.  I’d be interested in doing variations of this series or trying new animals in this theme. Namely Buffalo, Elephants, antelope, most anything that’s furry.

• Animals that I haven’t done at all or not enough of. Gorillas, Rhinos, Zebra, Deer or different kinds of Antelope like Kudu or Sable. Jacob’s sheep, Elephants, Hawks, Big beetles like elephant ,rhino or stag.

• American West Imagery. Cowboy/Indian stuff. I’m always a fan of this stuff. I’ve been incorporating a good bit of Navajo blanket patterns into my work in a graphic way and would like to see what else I can do with it.

• I’d like to do some classy lady head tattoos, similar to my banner painting I’d like to do some theme versions of lady heads.

Favorites I’d like to do would be:
- The Wicked Queen from Snow White
- Malificent the Evil witch from Sleeping Beauty
- Storm, Rogue or Jubilee or Phoenix from X-men.
- She-Hulk
- Red Sonja
- Valeria from Conan the Barbarian.
- Uma Thurman  as Marcelus Wallace’s wife in Pulp Fiction
- I’d like to do an illustrative Marilyn Monroe
-Lucille from I Love Lucy
- Morticia Addams could be super fun
- Dolly Parton will always be a favorite. Bigger the hair the better.

• There’s a few Star Wars characters that I’ve got good ideas for: Chewbacca , Leia or Stormtroopers. Or a character I’ve never tattooed before, Obi-Wan Kenobi

• Any Planet of the Apes character. So long as it’s an ape.





March 22nd, 2014

Conventions and Travels for 2014

This year I’ll be a doing a few different shows from my standard ones. I’ll be doing a few local to New York and some travel abroad.

I’d like to try something different for me at these shows. I may book  a few appointments  for each convention but I will have pre drawn tattoo designs available for walk ups all weekend.  There’ll be a variety of different stuff to pick from that I think will  be cool stuff to tattoo and own.

- June 20-21 NY Empire State Tattoo Expo (Westchester, NY)

- July 1-3 Electric 13 Tattoo (Austin,TX)

- July 7-10 Rock Of Ages (Austin ,TX)

- September 5-7 Art Tattoo Show Montreal (Montreal, Canada)

-September 26-28 The London Tattoo Convention (London, UK) I’ll also be doing some days as a guest with dates un-decided currently.

All inquiries for tattoos at these location please email me at



January 22nd, 2014

Pop Portraits

Recently I did a cool tattoo of Walter White from Breaking Bad. I was pretty inspired to try a new series of tattoos in a similar style. If anyone has any ideas using these characters or other pop culture esque people please shoot me a buzz at unnamed12364_341925655945247_1276838927_n 47627_341909279280218_2059154252_n


Here’s a few tattoos I did from this inquiry post. I was super happy to get to do a few of these guys.

IMG_0303 IMG_0320 IMG_0321 IMG_0356 IMG_0365 IMG_0475 IMG_0578

December 28th, 2013

Death Waits Step By Step

A few months ago I took part in the “Fuck Art, Let’s Kill” exhibition put on at Nick Caruso’s Bound For Glory shop in Staten Island. It was a death and reaper themed art show. I’ve always been a big fan of drawing skulls and reapers and as excited as I was to be a part of the show the idea of trying to come up with something nice and original that would stand out was daunting. I decided to try to paint something a bit out of my comfort zone. I stuck to my preferred mix of watercolors, inks, and liquid acrylics, but I tried to give the piece a renaissance feel using those media.

Before I’d started this project I’d downloaded a bunch of books from to my iPad. I thought I’d just grab a variety and see what there was in them. They were cheap enough  that I ended up getting a heap of really good stuff for a fraction of what physical books would cost. There was a lot of visual information there in a variety of styles. I found it handy when I was struggling for ideas in coming up with the composition for this piece. I flipped through the books on my iPad until I saw something that caught my eye. I saved the first two images (Ref. 1) because I was drawn to the composition. I started formulating the idea of doing a reclined death. It just seemed different. Like he was just kicking back like a dude on a lazy Sunday. There were some good examples of drapery in there as well. In the third image (Ref. 2), I really liked the candle’s being snuffed out and the light effects. The last image (Ref. 2) is the skull from the cover of the Illustrated Monthly book of skulls. I thought it’d be fun to paint an ancient looking skull with missing teeth.

#0REF2 #00REF1

I’ve always done my brainstorming sketches very small. I like to do two or three tiny versions so I can work out the composition before dedicating time to the details in a full size sketch. I meant to take a photo before trashing the other tiny sketches but I just kinda forgot. I chose the sketch whose composition I liked best (Fig. 1)  and enlarged it on the copy machine to the size I wanted the final painting to be. I then laid tracing paper over the quick version and did some fine tuning to  flesh it out (Fig. 2).

#1  #2

This piece is 12″ x 16″ and is on a piece of Windsor & Newton Aquarelle paper. This is my favorite paper to use for most every project. It’s similar to Arches cold press in terms of durability, but the tooth of the paper is much finer and allows for much finer line work when you’re using ink. I usually cut my piece of paper larger than I want the final image to be and mask it off with orange artist tape. It helps me keep my compositional constraints in mind by giving me a border where a frame would be.  I also like to have an edge to test paint on that’s from the same ream of paper. Paper always ages differently and I think you have better results if you can test your colors on a piece of scrap paper that’s identical to the piece you’re painting on.  You can see what   my primary paints for this piece were in Fig. B. I used the FW Liquid Acrylic colors Flesh Tint, Crimson, Antelope Brown, and Purple Lake; the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Hydrus watercolor series Yellow Ochre and Burnt Sienna; and the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Slate Blue and Van Dyke Brown in the concentrated and transparent watercolors. The black i’m using is Speed Ball black. B

After tracing the image onto watercolor paper in light pencil lines using a light box, I took an Exacto knife and cut out pieces of the tape where I wanted the image to extend past the border. I wanted the smoke and the scythe to break the border. I tried to avoid using any black outlines for this piece as it wouldn’t have matched the look I was going for. I tried to do things a little differently since this is an illustration and not a tattoo.

Using the grey washes I mixed up (Fig. 3), I started by blocking in the big areas of shadow in the painting (Fig. 4). At this stage of any painting I use primarily inks and liquid acrylics which are permanent after they’re dry. This allows me to do multiple layers without my colors blending together.  I’m using the candle as the light source and pulling the black into lighter tones surrounding the candle.

#3  #4

I used a ruler and a pencil to make lines in random sizes radiating from the candle’s flame to the edge of the paper to give the impression of light rays. I used the different mixes of grey washes to pull the areas together (Fig. 5). I was trying to imitate the feel of the candle that’s in the top image of Ref. 2. I liked the tiny glow to it but wanted mine a bit more dramatic.


Next I started with color (Fig. 6). I used my same grey washes and  the FW Liquid Acrylic Purple Lake color to start building up depth in the cloak. I work from light to dark and slowly add in the black . It’s always easier to make things darker than to make them lighter so I try to build it up slowly.


I use two types of paintbrushes when i’m painting (Fig. A). Both are made by Raphael; the black handled Martre Kolinsky 8404 are primarily used as outlining brushes for cartooning. They’re fucking expensive but will outlast any pen you’ll ever buy if you take good care of them and keep them in brush cases.  I like using them for doing grey lining and textural bits. The other kind is a Raphael 8394. It’s a soft but durable synthetic brush. It soft enough that it doesn’t tear up my paper even if I layer color multiple times. I used the size 1 Kolinsky to do the wood grain in the handle of the scythe (Fig. 7). #7  #A

After the grey lines dried I mixed up some of the Dr. Martin’s Van Dyke Brown and the Yellow Ochre in my palette. Again going from light to dark  I started layering in the wood tones in the hourglass and the scythe handle. I used the watercolors here so it has a transparent look and lets the grey grain lines come through the paint (Fig. 8).


I started the hourglass by mixing the Ochre with just a bit of the Crimson and the Van Dyke Brown to do the sand. Then with a drop of two of heavily heavily watered down Dr. Martin’s Slate Blue and some of the light grey wash I started giving some shape to the glass. When it was dry I used my finest brush and some more brown to stipple the glass to give the sand some texture. I used a super fine pen as well to add a few dots of black as well to add more value (Fig. 9). Using the Yellow Ochre and the Van Dyke Brown I started doing light washes on all of the bones to give them a base tone (Fig.10). Light colors show changes fast so I always do small graduations and build it up slowly. I started out just using the washes and then left it to dry for a bit (Fig.11).

#9 #10 #11

While the bone tones were drying I start blocking in the red. I used FW Liquid Acrylic Crimson to wash the areas with flat red and then layered in a bit of the grey wash while it was still wet to make it a richer red tone.  I jumped back and forth  with my grey wash in the bones and the red collar (Fig. 12). You can also see where I started adding the flat yellow tones to the medallion.


Once my first layers were dry, I could see where using the grey washes with the colors to build up my values had gotten me (Fig. 13). My next step on this piece was a little different for me. I started overlaying the image with charcoal to add to the textural tone and really give it that rich renaissance look (Fig. 14) I don’t feel like it’s an effect that could have been achieved with just watercolors. The tooth of the paper really held onto the gritty charcoal and added a whole new level of depth to the piece. Here’s where I referred a lot back to my skull reference for the anatomy and cracks.

#13  #14

I had stayed away from the candle until I had most of the other colors established because I was having trouble deciding what color to use. After looking at what I had I decided to go with a tan flesh-like tone. I thought it would work well to symbolize melting mortality, though I’m a little worried it looks like a dripping wiener. I used the FW Flesh Tint and the browns that I already had out and built up the texture and depth of the drips. I also mixed a bit of the Pen White into it to make the candle very opaque. Fig.15


Then I used my Slate Blue and watered it down to give the smoke some shape and filled in the gem on the medallion (Fig. 16).


At this point the wrinkles in the cloak had depth, but as a whole the image was still lacking it.  Looking at the Ref 1 photo and comparing my own painting I could tell that the entire composition needed more shadow. It’s a hard thing to do at this point for fear of ruining it all. I did something pretty risky and covered the painting in Workable Fixative (Fig. C) I saturated it pretty well and let it dry. Afterward I used a larger size brush and gingerly started washing in heavy areas of dark grey washes and black. I was trying to create the vignette from the glow of the candle. I was really pleased with the technique and happy I didn’t totally screw it up trying a new technique.  As much as I’d avoided using paints and inks that wouldn’t run when reactivated with water the concern is always there that the paper will get overworked and the colors will start looking muddy and not as vibrant. Comparing Fig.13 to Fig.17 you can really see the difference it made.

C #13 #17

After the washes had dried, I pulled off my tape to get a good look at what the piece really looked like without the orange border changing the tone of the whole.  With the tape out of the way I took a regular graphite pencil and added a bit more depth to the smoke and fine tuned the edges in the blue smoke. Lastly I took the Dr. Ph. Martin’s Pen White (Fig. D) and the finest Kolinsky brush I had and went throughout the whole piece adding tiny white highlights and light rays. D

All in all I was really happy with this piece and was glad that I tried to do something a little different. Looking at the references that I’d picked up in Illustrated Monthly inspired me to take this in a direction that I don’t think I would have if I’d just stuck to Google image or my current reference library. Prints for this piece can be found in the store section of my website.#18FIN