Las Vegas tattoo artist Cleen Rock One competes on “Ink Master”

Most people don’t know a lot about their tattoo artist. They’re just the mysterious person who sits beside you for an hour or 10 and presses the needle to your skin, leaving you with a (hopefully) beautiful addition to your body. But thanks to the show “Ink Master” on Spike TV, we can get an in-depth look at some of the hottest tattoo artists in the country. And one just happens to live right in here Vegas.

Chrome Gypsy Tattoo Las Vegas. Photo courtesy of Cleen Rock One.

Cleen Rock One came to Las Vegas from Illinois where he honed his neo-traditional style. Combining bold lines, deep shapes and colors that leap off the skin, Cleen’s tattoos are technically precise and visually striking. You can see all that for yourself, in these pictures, on Cleen’s site and at his shop, Chrome Gyspy Tattoo on Highland Drive just south of Sahara Avenue. Just as intriguing are the man and his views on tattoos in Vegas.

Having worked on the Las Vegas Strip, and understanding why so many people get tattoos in this town, Cleen doesn’t hesitate to tell it like it is regarding the oversaturated market. “They just assume that you’re good because you’re in a casino.” But as for those big name shops: “They’re all owned by corporations that have no business being in the business.” That punk rock honesty, and the incredible talent to back it up, are what have made Cleen Rock One a world-class tattoo artist, and have brought him so far in “Ink Masters.”

"Ink Masters" on Spike TV. Photo courtesy of Spike TV.

Dedicated to being straight edge, a lover of choppers and hot rods and one hell of a tattoo artist, Cleen Rock One has made a name for himself in the tattoo world by producing some of the best tattoos around. Now, thanks to Spike TV and “Ink Master,” he’s showing a whole new group of fans the difference between quality and less-than-quality tattoos – the kind to take pride in and the kind that eventually get covered up by the work of a better artist. In fact, one of the factors that brought Cleen to Las Vegas was the perpetual cycle of people getting terrible tattoos in Vegas, going home and having someone else either fix the mistakes or just tattoo right over top.

“I wanna change the game. I wanna change the bar. I wanna change the whole persona of Strip tattoo. That’s what my goal is, to get a shop on the Strip and basically educate people.” Cleen’s passion for the craft is evident in both his work and his goals. And his advice to anyone in search of that perfect Vegas tattoo is as valuable as a full sleeve, “Find out what you wanna get tattooed, then find out if the guy who’s doing your tattoo is good at that style. Find out if that guy wants to do that tattoo, and that you’re his only priority. Not carnie style get ‘em in get ‘em out take the bandage off in a week when you get home. Be serious. Be passionate about what is being put on you. Don’t just go there because the sign looks really nice and they put marble countertops in the place.”

Cleen doing what he does best. Photo courtesy of Cleen Rock One.

While some tattoo artists, especially in Las Vegas, bank on being like everybody else, Cleen Rock One is dedicated to standing out and being proud of his exceptional work. “I like the fact that I know people can walk down the street and look at a tattoo and know that Cleen Rock One did that tattoo. That’s honorable to me.” And more than anything, that outstanding work speaks for itself.

To catch all the “Ink Master” action, check out Spike TV. And for the full experience, head down to the Silverton Casino, Tuesday from 5 – 8 p.m. to watch the show and enter to win a $300 tattoo gift certificate. During the finale in December, when Cleen will once again be showing off his talents live on the show, fans at the Silverton could even with a $1,000 tattoo gift certificate. Here’s hoping we all see him score the grand prize for himself and for Las Vegas.
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I came from a little town in the Midwest. And believe me, I’m never going back. It’s probably nice if you love grass and snow; but I love the lights, the glamour, and the flocks of tourists seeking fun and fortune. Once the sun goes down, I’ll be the first one out hitting the clubs or just wandering the Strip for a little nighttime adventure. Passing through Bond on my way to Lily Bar, or taking a shortcut through Double Helix before landing at Parasol Up/Down, I’m the one you’ll randomly bump into – only sometimes literally – strolling through Sin City’s liquored veins – and loving every minute of it.