Between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and rise of the sons of Aryas, there was an age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms laid spread across the world. Hither came Rob Downs the Cimerrian, pencil in hand. It is I, his chronicler, who knows well his saga. Now, let me tell you of the days of high adventure...

The year was 1980, Queens ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ was on the radio. By the middle of May, Mount St. Helens experienced a huge eruption that created avalanches, explosions, large ash clouds, mudslides, and massive damage to the surrounding area. A total of 57 people were killed as a result of the volcanic blast. Post-It notes are officially introduced to U.S. stores during April of 1980. In November Robert Thomas Downs was born to loving parents. His parents first child, a shining moment that will forever be the highlight of their lives. Popular musician and former Beatles member John Lennon was shot and killed by obsessed fan Mark David Chapman outside of Lennon’s apartment in Manhattan during December of 1980 at the age of 40.

Raised in a cabinet shop, Robert mastered all aspects of woodworking by the age of 5. Norm Abram, when asked of young Roberts work said, “Just when I thought I knew it all about modern woodworking, Rob came along. He is the NEW new yankee.”

 “A pencil was not born in my hand, but once it found its way into my grasp, it never left.” Rob once said in a June 1993 interview for Teen Beat Magazine. Drawings, paintings, sculptures, spoken word, slam poetry, freestyle hip hop, and standup comedy flowed forth like wine from the cup of Dionysus. Not all works were met with thunderous applause mind you, there were setbacks and lessons learned that hardened his resolve. A well rounded artist emerged in the early 2000s, graduating from the American Academy of Art with degrees in Illustration and Watercolor.

Rob began working outside of the Galactic Empire's laws, beginning a career in illegal smuggling. Rob eventually met the Wookie Chewbacca whom he saved from imprisonment. Chewbacca, grateful for Rob's intervention, proclaimed a life debt to the smuggler. Chewbacca thereby became Rob's first mate aboard his ship and the smuggling duo became lifelong friends. Rob and Chewbacca, at some point, met the self-proclaimed galactic entrepreneur and gambler Lando Calrissian, against whom Rob played a game of Sabacc using a pair of gold dice. During which, Rob gambled for and won Calrissian's YT-1300, the Millennium Falcon.

That brings us to 2006, in a seedy backwater town in the west side of the greater Chicagoland metropolitan area. Rob and Chewie had just finished a light remodel on a friends tattoo shop. Those friends would become mentors as he was asked to join the shop as an apprentice. Relieving Chewie of his life debt, Rob embarked on a new career as the apprentice of the Ink Spot. An in depth education first focusing on heath and safety had begun. Lost and sacred arts were past on by experienced masters. He thanks Darryl, Dan, Oscar and Matteo, for love, for sharing, for teaching and for friendship. An equilibrium of all past experiences and skills was found. Tattooing was what he was meant to do, and Tattoo he did.

In June of 2014, shortly after the marriage to the love of his life Jada, Rob began tattooing at Vanity Tattoo.  Further exploration into his craft has yielded fruitful results. A friendship of kindled spirts blossomed with owner operator John and the fellow artist. Friendship was not the only thing blossoming, in the years that followed his skills were sharpened into a razors edge.  Honor and fear were heaped upon his name and, in time, he became a king by his own hand. And this story shall also be told.

Taken from ‘A One Eyed Warlock’ an unauthorized biography by Akito the Wizard

Stay apprised of current works on his Instagram, @robdowns836.  Contact him at Vanity Tattoo in Carpentersville or email directly at Stay tuned for updates as the life of Rob takes exciting, and sometimes unexpected turns. Before I leave you for now, a few words from the artist:

“I give everything I have to every tattoo.  Thank you for allowing me to do something I love. Ego kills art.  In vino veritas.”


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