Colorful photos of Merv Heiner giving someone a tattoo.
Cover Image © Merv Heiner

In Praise of My Tattoo Artist: The Art of Merv Heiner

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to have tattoos. I remember seeing my uncle’s arm when I was like 5, and he just had the word “SEX” written on his arm in what looked like very badly drawn sharpie. But that was cool to me – that was my real-life introduction to tattoos. (Both Merv Heiner and the shop he works at come later.)

In case anyone thought I was kidding…

(TL;DR – scroll down for images)

From there, I always kind of played with the idea as I got older, eventually walking into a few parlors in Kansas City, MO as a teenager. I still liked the art, but I felt like I shouldn’t rush anything because – in my eyes – tattoos are permanent. It is like a marriage between your ink and skin. And even though you can get a “divorce” (tattoo-removal), I have no plans to break my union.

So – I got older – had a little more money – college came.

I knew what I wanted done, but I told myself that I would wait until I paid off all of my student loans before I spent ANY money on “extra things” like tattoos. I wasn’t procrastinating or flaking, but I think people around me definitely thought I was kidding. I didn’t pay off my loans until 2017(?) and then – almost immediately once I was done – I started researching tattoo shops online.

There, I came across an award-winning shop near me called Black Lotus Tattoo in Hanover, MD (a very cool place full of very cool people). The shop is owned (I think) by Season 4 Inkmaster competitor Halo Jankowski, and while Halo is dope – it was another artist there whose style caught my eye.


Enter “The Merv”

Merv Heiner had the style I was looking for!

A picture of a bearded tattooed white male on a scooter waving at you.  His name is Merv Heiner.
© Merv Heiner

Out of all of the artists’ portfolios I looked through, about 45 or so, I immediately knew that Merv was “it” when I landed on his shop portfolio page. The lines in his work looked fluid and came to life with a bit of improvisational flare that I was drawn to. The colors were vibrant & blended to perfection!

This was it. This was the art I wanted to marry my skin to (ewwwww).

Anyway, I hit him up – and the rest is history. What follows is a BUNCH of images of work that Merv has done that I dig from his Instagram feed (including the stuff he did for me a couple of years ago – we’ll start there).


My Arms

Left Arm

Right Arm


The Art of Merv Heiner

Everything that follows is owned by Merv Heiner & lifted from his Instagram feed. There is waaaaay more there (1,300+ posts as of the time of this blog), so check it out if you’d like to see more.

And that’s it!

I plan to send a link to this post to Merv, so if you love his work – please give him a follow on Instagram (and tell him SoSoDOPE sent you) or let him know how much you dig things in the comment section below.

Even better – hit him up for a tattoo!

Signing off – and here’s a picture of Merv… Holding… What appears to be a plush Sheep Merv? Adorable. And perfectly Merv.

Merv Heiner holding a plush modeled after one of his tattoos!

Peace, and thanks for reading.


The soundtrack for this post provided by…

 Image Credits:
– Cover Image & all Merv-related photos © Merv Heiner
– Body Image 1 & Johnnie Tattoo Photos © Johnnie Weathersby III

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