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Proud Moments

I’m so proud of everybody.. These past months we’ve all made some huge gains.

First and foremost I gotta give a strong shoutout to my broskie & p.i.c, Xavier “Mookie” Smith! I dont even have to think twice about Inkraft Studios being supplied with what it needs for us to do our job. I have no worries being out of the country for a month I know he gonna hold it down n make some artistic gains while im gone. You’re way more than a homie!

Shoutout to Zy Owens and his wife, Kim, on having their beautiful baby girl “Londyn”. Also many thanks for having my back on the PN movement’s website and any other creative gains we’ve made. And for being such a good friend.

Swen! Shoutout! I know your plate’s been full but I’m sure you are holding it down can’t wait to make some huge gains after the school doors open.

Lani, we’re all super proud of u on getting that new job! And continuing to move forward with your own brand and ventures You’re a prime example of a good friend, a hustler, and what this popnation brand is all about. Thank you!

We got it good. Let’s keep doin what we do!

Japan On Deck.

17 months ago, Daniel Sin and I were running The Loved and Hated.  We were doing US to the fullest extent and meeting tons of new, interesting people.

One of my pre-existing clients introduced me to a friend named Andre, who was interested in a tattoo of an altered Jeet Kun Do Bruce Lee logo for his company.

I quickly learned that he was from the east coast but had spent many years in Asia, and ran a successful JKD martial arts studio in Taiwan.. and he spoke more of his experiences out there.

I had always yearned to visit the East. Asian culture, kung fu, the scenery, the history, the art… Always been a fan… But the actual experience of visiting seemed so untouchable.

But here was the opportunity. He said he would help, and he believed I would do very well out there. He recommended I hit japan first, and that it would set the foundation for traveling about out there.

So, the next day I filed for my passport, got the money together for a flight to japan… and told everybody I talked to….. This was 17 months ago.

I had 2 pending cases with the state of Arizona… it had been over a year since the incident… and the papers didn’t come through the mail till I was ready to go… NO TRIP… instead: Lawyer fees, court, jail, work furlough, probation. I figured the opportunity was lost.

17 months later… I get a call from a 404 number.. “Mike this is Dre, how you been I been trying to get a hold of you!”

Fast forward»» The trip is on… hopefully for real this time.

I got a list of things to accomplish before I leave in the fall… and I’ve learned so much while trying to complete this list.

I feel so blessed. God above can make ways when you feel there is no way I promise you.  Never on schedule.. but always on time.. I’m happy with whatever happens.

@bobbyfresh… check the flight times n get@me

Announcement To My Peers:

Widen your gaze to whats available these days. Social connectivity is nearing its peek. ANYTHING that you feel passionate about can be documented and marketed to an audience (at almost no cost).. And I mean anything!!! If you do not know what you are passionate about, I promise you it will present itself, and I promise it will surprise you.
You may see what others are doing and feel limited. YOU ARE SIMPLY NOT. … Just start!!! And start small. Find your mentors, keep your faith, and keep it 100% you.

P.O.P., Y.R.C., U.G.K, Y.M.C.M.B………. these are just letters rearranged and made unique.. Pick your own and personalize it!. Anybody can trademark and establish credentials. But YOU are the only YOU!!!.

There really is no time like the present. Capitalize on what you were born with: Your creativity! It will never fail you, only put you closer to your purpose.



Pop Nation: The Run Down

Let me give you the rundown on what Pop Nation is:    (to me, at least)

I’ve been getting my hair cut at Ageez barbershop since I started high school.  A few of the barbers there – including my own – have been the dudes I talk to each week about what’s going on in Michael’s world… whether its good, bad, or ugly… and they’re always quick to tease or give advice.  They’ve seen me each week since the day I started tattooing, and send people my way any chance they get.  The day that I had opened up my second shop, Inkraft Studios, my boy Donnie had referred Zy Owens to come get tattooed by me.  I remember Donnie telling me that Zy was a good dude that I could learn a lot from… and I was like, “ok, whatevv… let’s get some ink started.”

The shop was a diamond in the rough and Zy was my first client at the new venue. We collaborated ideas and he trusted me to do my own thing on a full back piece that took months to finish… along with a full rib piece as well.  For big, extensive tattoos to go so well, the vibe’s gotta be right…. and it was.

About a month before I had been sentenced to do my 5 months, Zy had come to me and said he wanted me to help him start a clothing line with a theme. He told me that he had a vision of opening a store that appeared as a popcorn shoppe, but actually functioned to sell a clothing brand.  (He used Johnny Cupcakes clothing brand as an example.)

Immediately, my mind started flooding with ideas to fulfill the concept.  I started spit-balling names: POP Shop, Popcorn Clothing company, PropCorn Clothing, Pop City, PopTown, etc. etc…… and eventually we agreed upon POPNATION.

So… Great!!! we got a name…WhooHoo!!! now what?…. A logo! …. I drew up and we tossed around numerous ideas for a logo and trashed them all. We gotta give credit to Aaron Nickels for supplying the logo artwork.

A logo and a name… that’s all we had. Not enough.   I knew that having a lifestyle brand had to consist of much much more than just tee shirts with a popcorn logo on them… It needed a lifestyle… and at the root of a lifestyle, is an idea.

At the start of my sentence, I had a goal, and a strong sense of urgency.  I had 5 months of jail and work furlough to go through… a shop to run… bills to pay……. and a business venture to start.   My mind was more focused than ever and all energy outside of tattooing had been focused on fulfilling the idea of PopNation.  Documenting everything I could along the way.

I had plenty of time to read books in jail… the most relevant books were: The Book of Psalms in the Bible, Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck, The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and The Shack by W.M. Paul Young. (all books that I strongly recommend!)

P.K. was my driver at the time, and I found myself speaking to him much like how my barber would speak to me; and it helped me realize how important the spread of education is, and how important healthy relationships are.

****My attitude was changing for the better: All accountability and no complaining… All work ethic and no laziness… All love and no negativity… All growth and no bullshit.****

The truth is… We don’t really know exactly what Pop Nation actually is yet. There is a vision, of course.. but visions must be flexible.. Sure it is a business, and a company with a TIN #, sure its a trademarked brand to sell clothes… but I believe there is much more to it. I think of it as a sculpture that is unfinished.

Ultimately, PopNation is an influence.  And this influence will play out over time.  My team and I are showing up to put forth all that we can… and have some fun.

P.O.P = Position Of Promise

Student Of The Game

By no means at all am I trying to become a Jack-of-all-trades.  But at the same time I’m feeling my horizons broadening.  For the first time in a long time, I am EXCITED about being a student.

Seeing a new spiffy T-Shirt in a store or online is just the tip of the ice berg of what needs to be done for a start-up company to brand itself in the clothing industry.  Over the past 6-7 months, I have experienced a variety of parts of business, such as:

-trademarking                        -logo branding

-clothing productions             -video editing

-graphic design                      -operations management

-web development                  -contract logistics

-marketing strategy                -screen printing

and the list goes on….

I am no expert on any of these topics.  Tattooing is what I do best, and I still have to get a lot better at that. But I find myself daily researching and asking questions about how I can get be better at expressing my ideas. And over time I have been presented with a set of big decisions and well  as a laundry list of homework. I am happy to be a student. I have many awesome teachers:

-Mom, Dad, and Cierra. They teach me everyday how a family loves one another and keep God in my life.

-Marvin Davis. He’s been my barber and mentor since I was about 16. Tells it like it is no matter what and has had a huge impact on my growth as a person. Never does he hesitate to research something or spread info if it is in my best interest.

-Aaron Martin, has been a great mentor in business, always giving me both sides of the spectrum in venturing situations.

-Zy and Swen, my business partners keep me from running wild as a businessman, their experience is a key role to the success of my new experiences.

-Robert Preston AKA Bobby Fresh, has been giving me tons of pointers on stepping into the industry, paying my dues, and hustling smarter AND harder.

I’m forever a student. Each morning I wake up, wipe my brain clean of any ego, step out my door, and can’t wait to see what the world has to teach me. You can learn from the successful AND the unsuccessful, the rich AND the poor, the happy AND the sad, the old AND the young, the loud AND the quiet. LEARN, GIVE, GROW & LIVE.

#special-shoutout to Lani Halican for believing in me and hustlin’ so hard with such style.


Think Pink for Cancer


Today is the day of the Think Pink For Breast Cancer 16-team Basketball Tournament taking place in Deer Valley.

Devon Greene and I met when I was in Chicago almost two years ago. Him and I have kept updated through tattoos and basketball. Since Devon’s been in Arizona with his new family, he has kept involved in the community and offered me the opportunity to help raise this tournament. Feels good to be able to collaborate with a friend. Come out and visit on the day they announce the winner.  This inaugural event will be held at Deer Vally High School in Glendale, AZ on May 19thand 20th 2012

Building Momentum.

In order to do something big for the future for everybody to see… you gotta do all of the small tasks in the beginning that nobody sees.

I’ve put a lot of time into organically developing this brand. Now with the ( domain is in my possession, the website is starting to be built, and the trademarking process underway, we are starting to gain traction and fine tune the direction in which we are headed.

So much time has been spent on training my mind to be a task master.  I’m always looking for the next mountain to climb… and I do not feel like I’m in a rush at all. Things are unfolding beautifully on their own time.  I feel like I have just been a witness to events and conversations taking place with perfect timing.  A friend of mine, Devon Greene contacted me asking if I would sponsor a basketball tournament that he’s running to support the fight against breast cancer in turn for promoting the brand on everything involved with the tournament’s marketing. Also, my little sister, Cierra is a phenomenal basketball player and she’s playing in a 25-team tournament in July. The people running the tournament have also asked us to provide the apparel and sponsor the event. And to top it off,  a woman named Bobbie who runs a non-profit organization called My Mother’s Dream has been working hard to build a community center in downtown Chandler, kind of like an urban YMCA.. and we are working together to provide a service with a brand attached to it.  I plan on helping at the community center once its built, giving testimony or teaching a class and promoting the (idea basis) of POP NATION. #position-of-promise.

It’s an abundance of blessings. These are all events that have come unexpectedly and tie in directly with the idea of our brand.  I’m making the transition into my job being my lifestyle, and my lifestyle being my job…

-Question: Hey Michael!! are you working today??

-Answer: Is my heart beating?

C.S. Lewis on Writing

Lewis on writing

First Few Days Out.

I cannot believe how much extra time i have now that I’m out of jail.  i haven’t stopped working.. i’ve gotten some tattoos in each day since I’ve been out and i’ve stayed up late each night… playing… for the first time in half a year! lol.. nothin big.. just a few BBQ’s and kickbacks.. my friends came in from cali and were a treat to have come thru.

But now its back to work.. i can see how time passes without even taking notice.. i want to keep dedicating time to myself at night.. except at my home… and not in jail. I have a HUUUGE agenda to knock out… and I’m excited. The cameras just got installed into the shop so the blog is about to get waaay better… POPNATION.COM is ready to launch next week. So stay updated. I appreciate everybody’s support and want to give back. Y’all gonna see.

My Last Day of Jail

149 days down.. 1 day to go.

I must say I’m not as excited or antsy as I thought I would be.  No doubt I’m ready to be out. I just moved into my new place and it feels good to sit on my furniture again. People have been so supportive and I’m very grateful. My family and I have gotten so much closer over these past five months…. that’s been the best part of all this.  The second best part  of all this has been my increase in time management skills; I’ve become much more efficient and relaxed. I feel so calm it’s ridiculous!!! With so much going on my life has become conceptually so much simpler. My best artwork thus far has been done over the past 5 months. and third best, the people I’ve come to meet and get to know. My boy PK, and Aaron; I hope to stay in contact with these guys for a while….

This POPNATION gig is on its way.  I can’t help but get excited about it. But now is the time to work. It’s fulfilling to be pursuing something other than tattooing and while – at the moment – it’s just a hobby, it has been a valuable extension of my efforts.  I feel like I’ve been handling a bulk of the leg work as far as content goes, which is fine with me because I’m learning, and I’m establishing some relationships that I foresee being mutually beneficial.

INKRAFT STUDIOS has undergone some upgrades. I’m Lovin it! Everybody seems to be loving it. The crew thinks it’s a pretty interesting place to be, so I’ve paid to install five HD cameras into the shop so we can start video blogging some of the everyday life that takes place in there so you guys can enjoy it as much as we do. Stay Updated.

#follow @MartinezInkraft

Thank You

A Tough Question To Answer…

I have a friend who I’ve spoken much with and confided in about beginning to start this company.  Told him about the concept, what I’ve been doing to begin the process, and even some of the content I’ve put in thus far. The conversations began to lead nowhere when I stressed over all the possibilities that can take place. All the things that can go wrong… and all the things that can go right. Then, he asked me a simple question with the toughest answer:

—-“What is it that YOU want?”

I couldn’t provide an immediate answer. And i couldn’t sleep until I came up with the most detailed answer possible.

I want for nothing.  But I will work for everything.  I pray for direction and will commit to doing the pedaling.  I will work to become an outlet for those around me to succeed at what they do best. I will work to get a group of people around me. No more than 10. People willing to work and not want.  People who are willing to try even after they’ve failed.  Creative people, who are willing to help those around them realize their worth and creativity.  And we move forward. Learning from each other. Making gains big and small… establishing independence…and support.  What ever comes along with this, i will gladly accept and cherish. Be it good, bad, beautiful, or ugly.

So the question is: WHAT DO YOU WANT?

The other day in jail…


The other day in jail, I ran into a familiar face.  Some years back, we used to run around with some other guys and always up to no good; making money the wrong way, the fast way, and bein around the wrong people, without any regard of who we were affecting.  Looking back at this time, I realize now how much I used to ignore my concience, getting involved in things i would never think about doing these days… I must say I was lost, and i remember being angry… By catching up with this dude, I could see that we had gone in very different directions. He told me how the 30-day sentence he was serving had completely derailed his circumstances on the outs. And when I asked about how the other friends were doing  – two friends in particular – One had become addicted to the drugs and got caught up, and the other had been stabbed 16 times… it blew my mind, cuz we used to kick it on a daily basis, and I remain unharmed.  And here I am now, almost done with a 5-month sentence for a friggin DUI, n i’m feeling better than I’ve ever felt….. These are the results of a praying mother and a hardworking father.


I’m on my last month of bein the maricopa county’s work furlough program.  I’m STOKED! and gettin a lil impatient… but i know that i was specifically given 5 months for a reason, so i’m not ready to be done juuust quite yet.  There’s been a few circumstancial changes over these past 4 months and I’d say they’re all good changes. Im happy. P.K. is no longer drivin for me.. He’s upgraded to a new job near his home and I believe he’s gonna step it up big time for his home stretch these last few months. I’m happy for him.  Mook, well, i couldn’t be happier to have him pushin forward wit me. He’s stepped it up BIG TIIIME YO!. Im gonna be doin a lot in the near future. Zy, Lani, Aaron, and I are taking thurough steps forward building the POPNATION brand. is on its way soon I promise. (#shoutout to Alex) I thought i was gonna take it easy this month but…. FUUUCK  that! lol.. might as well #GET-IT-INN.. I appreciate anybody who’s shown any  support thus far and I still thank those who haven’t.

Surprise is Expected.

Thinking a certain way, talking a certain way, acting a certain way, and being a certain way… they all come with a territory.  Be it bad or good, it is still to be expected.  Lately, i have been testing areas of my life by putting forth energy into certain aspects, and watching step by step how things have come to play out….  I’m never surprised.  In turn, i’ve been learning so much more about myself, n i’ve been much more introverted trying to learn what makes me WHO I AM.. gotta long way to go.. but if i’ve learned one thing, its this: Trusting My Instincts.

Never again will i interpret a lil “feeling” as something insignificant… I want to keep my heart soft and be wise enough to guard it with discernment… and see where it takes me. If i can do that, then taking the bad that comes with the good will be no sweat for me….. (hopefully). I know that no matter how flexible and prepared i try to be, I have to know that the potential to be blindsided by an unexpected force still exists.  In a nutshell: SHIT HAPPENS… i’m taking solo time out to prepare my mind for surprise..

BETTER… is the only word that comes to mind

I’ve been working non-stop tattoo-wise. P.K. n i have been rollin together everyday n makin sure i am as efficient as possible.. he’s my closest homie at this time and i’m glad how things have come to pass.  I currently have a few things baking in the oven. My official fully functional website MARTINEZINKRAFT.COM is being built by my boy Alex and we are taking our time collaborating on its functionality to make sure its top-notch.. CANT WAIT TO SHOW YOU GUYS!!! but it takes time and Alex is doing most of the work so i’m getting as much work in as possible in the meantime. I’ve never had so much tattoo work to do so.. I feel like I’m reaching a new level clientele-wise.  with that in mind, i know i need to get better…. a lot better… and not in just tattooing, by any means. BETTER. That word is prominently stamping itself in my mind.

I want to sprint through February. March is my last month in jail so i think I’m going to go a slight bit easier on my tattoo volume.  I want to really focus to better my mind n body.. this tat game keeps me kinda tensed up so imma work on that very hard. Come March, i’m gonna walk.. steadily.. n patiently through my work and continue to build the PopNation clothing line. I have a lot of tasks to complete and I’m so anxious to have the time to do them all once I’m out in April.  I hope this sense of time value never ever leaves me. Each second out that gate is so valuable to me.