116 Life X Brad Smith

Posted on January 20, 2015 / by Katie
Bio My wife, Priscilla, and I are part of what I would call, "the overlooked": people you may never see or know that make up the "action" of the bride of Christ. Called by God to serve and love the tattoo industry/culture, and the body of Christ (church bodies), we are seeing a rapid acceptance in the community that our tattoo shop works in and the acceptance of fellow believers that support us from all types of denominations! I LOVE to love my wife. I love to take her on adventures to different places all across the nation, and it's a joy to have been blessed with such a great woman of God. She runs the tattoo shop, and she will be the best mother one day. I look forward to many adventures with her as we get old.I have such a desire and passion for the tattoo culture around the world. I love tattooing, meeting new people, and creating life-long friendships. I am a neo-traditional tattoo artist, studying both realism and illustrative works in tattoo culture. Interview Tell us a little bit about the path to where you are today. I grew up in church, but couldn't grasp a relationship with Christ at my young age. If I was a Christian, why did I want to do everything I wasn't supposed to? I was supposed to be a new creation in Christ, but always fell short. I had no knowledge of how to live and fight spiritual battles, let alone understand God's abounding grace; church seemed very fake and rule-based. I was deceived to think Christians were hypocrites and decided I didn't want any part of it. During my early 20's, I destroyed my life and other lives by ruining my first marriage with alcohol abuse and living selfishly. I found my identity in money and possessions. By the time I was 27, I was done running. I never stopped believing in Christ, but realized I also was not dying to the flesh and living for Him. I became sold out to His Word and Will at age 28, which spawned a reckless way of loving people that most would deem unloveable. What does a typical day of work look like for you? I try to go with His flow as much as possible. I wake up with some form of worship or study, and I do my appointments that my wife schedules for me each week. I believe I am there to speak into people's lives when needed or to listen and be a friend. If led by the Spirit, I will pray over people, or sometimes they just need to know you're ok with where they are right now and not judge them. (Eph. 2:4-5) If I can't accept a non-believer as they are, how will they be able to believe Christ is accessible to them in their state?Being a shop owner is part of my work as well. I currently have 2 apprentices and 2 other full-time artists in the shop, so teaching is part of my everyday schedule. Whether that's letting an apprentice tattoo my own leg, teaching how to price tattoos, or talking selling strategy, I'm always here to help. I want to leave a legacy - not just with my art and my own work, but through the artists that I help raise up and teach. Did you have a specific moment when you realized that you wanted to be a tattoo artist? My specific moment is more of a time period, maybe 5 years ago, when I decided to become a full-time artist. My family was very much against the idea, through no fault of their own - parents tend to want the best for their kids (security, good jobs, etc.). Two years into living for Christ, I became restless. I was working construction full-time and at a shop part-time. I saw it as an open door to radically change a subculture supernaturally. One day, I tattooed my knuckles and quit my day job. Since then, I have been tattooing full-time. What risks or hard decisions have you had to make to live unashamed? The biggest risk for me has been the fact that some people may not like me. I am a recovering people-pleaser. Anytime you stand up for Christ or are led to pray over someone, whether they are saved or not saved, you risk looking foolish. This is a growing process and being covered in tattoos makes this even harder! Many circles associate the tattoo culture as demonic, and it can be. Music, for example, when inspired by the Holy Spirit is life breathed, reviving us and building one another in the Love of God. Likewise, it can be perverted to breed the opposite. This is no different in tattoo culture. I believe all my tattoos are God-inspired regardless of contrary opinions(Matt 15:11). My best friend Josh says "dead people have no reputations to uphold"... If I'm truly dead to self and alive in Christ, I shouldn't be too scared to take risks for Him. What does the unashamed life look like in your context? Living 116 for me is knowing who I am in Christ and releasing His glory and love into people constantly. Because of Christ's sacrifice, I am called to live like Christ. His love doesn't stop flowing out of me because of what a person looks like, is dealing with, or if they are saved or not. I was given a revelation recently on my self worth. "Your self worth will dictate how high your ceiling of potential is." I believe that was God-inspired! Let's start looking at ourselves how Christ sees us, instead of our own experiences and circumstances. I am not my past, I am not my struggles, I am truly wonderfully made, and God thinks that about us all. How have you worked through success? Failure? Every step for my wife and I is success. It doesn't always look like it from the world's standards or point of view (money/fame), but to us it's just living and loving from one place to the next. Different seasons come and go and look different. The only failure I struggle with is when I want to quit, live a normal life and have security. Before long I end up at the top of my bio with Jesus again! Have you had any mentors along the way? Chris Taylor, the first tattoo artist who was a Christian that inspired me and was motivation for me to believe in myself as a career tattoo artist. Junior Purvis was the first to hire me and gracefully taught me through some bad tattoos I did. Spiritual mentors...too many to count. Tony Costa and my best friend Joshua Rickard have grown me spiritually from the position of brother to pastor/teacher. Mattie Montgomery from "for today" found me through social media and told me God had directed us together and I was to tattoo him. This was very critical to the path of the tattoo shop my wife and I were opening at the time and an answer to prayer. Mattie always guides me with God's word and is a great encouragement. Do you have any favorite books? These books changed my life and still break me: the Bible, When Heaven Invades Earth by Bill Johnson, Divine Nobodies by Jim Palmer, Experiencing Father's Embrace by Jack Frost, and Twilight - just kidding. I'm sure there have been more, but these have been key to everyday 116 Life. What verses or passages in Scripture have sustained or encouraged you? John 13:34, 1 Corinthians 14:3, Ephesians 2:4-5, 2 Corinthians 5:16-17, and 1 John 2:6. Can you offer some encouragement to other unashamed believers out there? Don't be afraid to love people. Some may look at a person and say that they are beyond saving or don't deserve second chances (or third or fourth chances). But it may be your acceptance and kindness that changes their life - when no one else would give them the time of day. Our own righteousness is like filthy rags to God (Isaiah 64:6), but He has made us righteous through Christ! (2 Corinthians 5:18)   Follow Brad on Instagram   Like Bradford Smith Tattoos on Facebook Visit True Grit Ink's Website    

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