Art Of The GYPSY Photo of The GYPSY Master Artist



The GYPSY is the most experienced licensed Body Artist in Kansas. A Formally Trained Tattoo Artist The GYPSY has been Tattooing Since 1976. The GYPSY is also the only Body Piercer in Kansas to have gone to school to learn how to Pierce. He has been piercing professionally since 1990. In 2008 The GYPSY became one of only a few worldwide to have passed the Alliance of Professional Tattooist Tattoo Mastery Test. He was also appointed by Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas Board of Cosmetology where he served as the Representative for Kansas Body Artists from 2009 to 2010.

The GYPSY’s philosophy has always been; “You can give someone the greatest Body Art in the world but when you forget that it is about them and not about you the art becomes something less than great.”


James Alan George came into this world on October 25, 1956, at Saint Francis Hospital in Topeka, Kansas. He was premature by two months to the day. He was the first patient of his mother Shirley Hummel’s Obstetrician/Pediatrician Robert Parman MD. As James was exiting the birth canal it was discovered that his head was twisted around backward. Doctor Parman placed a set of tongs on the baby’s head and turned it around. The tongs slipped and left two egg-shaped scars on James’ head.

James was not breathing and the Doctor worked for 20 minutes to get the small peanut wrinkled pre-me to breathe on his own. Years later Doctor Parman told James, “I was just about to call it when you let out the most blood-curdling scream I have heard before or since. You were stubborn and loud then King James and you are still stubborn and loud.”


When James was 18 month old his mother gave him his first Coloring Book. Shirley saw something that left her speechless; the toddler drew a picture of a cow on the inside of the coloring book. The drawing was so accurate that no one would have to guess it was a cow… it was a cow. From that point on Shirley did not buy coloring books for her child she bought him newsprint pads and pencils, crayons and markers.

As James skills increased so did his growing pile of art supplies and comics. When James was 6 years old his mother gave him a dollar and sent him to the store to buy some comics. The family was taking a bus trip from Topeka to Kansas City to see the Plaza Christmas Lights. The child was ecstatic, it was 1962 and a dollar would buy a lot of comics. James purchased a Superman Super Spectacular; 52 pages of adventure for just twenty five cents. He also purchased a World’s Finest featuring Superman and Batman for another quarter. James finished with a Superboy Comic, a Detective comic featuring Batman and two Batman Comics. After tax and a candy bar James had his treasures.

On the trip to Kansas City James read the Superman Super Spectacular and the Superboy Comic. He glanced at the other 4 comics, all of which featured Batman and decided he would wait for the trip home to read them. As fate would have it the trip home took place at 10:00 at night and the 6 year old James would have to wait until the next day to read his comics. James rushed to his room after returning home from Sunday morning Church service and the course of his life was changed forever. As he devoured each adventure of The Batman he became a massive fan of the Dark Knight and never looked back.

James drawings were filled with depictions of Batman, Robin and the Villain’s the dynamic duo fought and conquered. His allowance was spent on more comics and he drew frequently and frantically to recreate the panels he loved from the pages of his comics. Shirley and his Grandmother Pearl Hummel were becoming increasingly concerned with James’ obsession. Nether woman understood or realized that  the child was actually honing his talent. But that would soon become apparent.


James’ birthday party in October 1963 was put together as a costume party to which all his friends were invited. His big gift that year was an NASA Astronaut costume which he could wear for the party and for Halloween just 6 days away. America’s Space program was in it’s infancy and the young boy was a great admirer of the Astronauts. James enjoyed wearing the Styrofoam space helmet and light blue jump suit with the NASA Logo in Red emblazoned on the front. Every time a launch was shown on TV James would wear his space suit.

November brought the assassination’s of JFK. The airwaves were flooded with the sad news for days and weeks. It was not lost on James and his drawings took a dark turn. This concerned his mother and grandmother and they did everything they could to turn his mind away from the days current events including suggesting that he draw pictures of the houses in the neighborhood which he started doing. Drawing houses led the child into an interest in architecture which would play a role in his art later in his life.

In February 1964 the Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and the District 501 School Board announced a city wide art contest for all enrolled students. Both of these events would have an impact on James’ art.

James first grade teacher, Elinor Pyle, had all the children do a crayon drawing on manila paper for the art contest. James went one step further doing a watercolor wash of blues, purples and blacks over his crayon drawing. This was the first painting he ever did.

James art won 1st place in his age group in the school contest. The picture went on to win first place in the school  District and first place in state. It was then sent to the national contest at the Smithsonian Institution and Museum in Washington DC where it won 1st place in the national award.

The crayon and watercolor painting depicted an Astronaut walking in space and tethered to his space capsule by a cable. James had depicted a space walk over a year before Russian Cosmonaut Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov and American Astronaut Major Edward H. White II made their historic space walks. The Smithsonian kept James artwork on display as part of an exhibit marking the historic events. The painting remains in the Smithsonian archives to this day.


James success in the art contest convinced his mother that he needed further art lessons. In the summer of 1964 she enrolled him in Saturday morning art classes at Washburn University. James loved going to the Mulvane Gallery for his art classes. It soon became clear to his instructors that he was far more advanced than the other children in his age group and they moved the 7 year old boy into the Junior High class.

In September of 1964 James went to the Mid-America Fair, which he did every September, and was thrilled to discover, “Batman The Ride”. The mini Fun House Roller Coaster became his favorite ride that year and he rode it several times.  In his art class at Washburn University the following Saturday the instructors told the student to paint their favorite ride at the fair; James of course painted Batman The Ride.

There was a visitor to the class that day and he watch James intensely as he painted. The visitor was German Muralist and Private Art Instructor Harry Roth. He was there for one reason; to observe James who he had been told about by one of the instructors.

As James laid on his stomach on the floor working on his painting Harry noticed the long hair that James had painted onto the figure in the car. Harry knelt down and pointing to the figure said, “That is not a girl.” James continued painting and responded “No that’s me.” Harry said, “I see. But your hair isn’t that long.” To which James responded, “I like The Beatles.”

When James’ mother came to pick him up the Instructor introduced her to Harry Roth. “I want to give your son Private Lessons.” Shirley was surprised by the offer. “That is nice but I can’t afford you. I can barely afford his lessons here.” Harry held up his hand, “I am not charging, this is gratis.” Shirley was confused, “But why?” Harry smiled, “Your son reminds me of myself at that age.”

The next Saturday after James finished his class at Washburn University he walked the mile to Harry Roth’s studio. His mother had shown him how to get there and James had an unerring sense of direction. In his first class he learned how to draw an eye. James still uses the technique he learned that day whenever he draws an eye.

Lessons with Harry Roth continued for a year. At one point Harry’s good friend Cartoonist Bill Mauldin came to visit. Harry instructed James to watch the cartoonist create. He stood at Bill Mauldin’s side and watched him quickly and flawlessly draw a nude fat man standing on a scale with an Army Sargent next to him holding a clip board. James was fascinated with the speed which the cartoonist had rendered the drawing and he was determined to match that speed someday.


James’ mother felt that he was spending too much of his time on Saturday’s in art classes and needed more time to be a boy. So in October of 1965 Shirley pulled James from Harry’s class and left him enrolled at Washburn University. Harry protested trying to reason with Shirley telling her, “I can teach him more than they can.” But she was adamite stating, “Most of your students are teenagers and adults. He needs to be around more children his own age.”

Classes at Washburn University continued for James. They even continued after the June 8, 1966 tornado ripped the roof off of the Mulvane Gallery. Classes were moved to the backyard of one of the instructor home a couple of blocks from the university. However the classes at Washburn would not last. In August of 1966 classes moved back to the campus and an instructor trying to expand James’ art knowledge made a grievous error in judgement.

The instructor felt that James had it in him to possibly become a sculptor. she took James along with a group of teenagers over to the sculpting class and instructed the students to form their clay into the shape of the model who was posed on a table in the center of the room. They were given 5 minutes to complete the project. James quickly formed the figure into the sitting position of the model.

The following week when Shirley came to pick up her son from the art class the Instructor proudly presented the now fired clay figurine James had made to his mother. “What’s this?” Shirley asked. “It’s a statue I made.” James answered gleefully. “Very nice. Who is it suppose to be?” Shirley asked. James answered, “The naked girl that was sitting on the table.” Shirley gave the instructor a piece of her mind and then pulled her son out of art classes at Washburn University.

James continued to draw and doing pen and ink art became his favorite. He devoured every book he could find on art and developed a taste for documentaries and movies about art and artists. His two favorite art movies were “The Agony and The Ecstasy” with Charlton Heston about Michelangelo and the painting of the Sistine Chapel. The other was “Lust For Life” Starring Kirk Douglas about Vincent van Gogh and his struggles. The latter movie sparked James interest in Van Gogh and he quickly became his favorite artist.

James continued to win awards for his art during his pre-teen and early teen years, James loved going to Art Museums but his favorite was the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. Shirley had introduced her son to the museum when he was very young and they lived just a couple of blocks away. James grabbed every opportunity he could to get to Kansas City and visit the Nelson-Atkins.


In June of 1972 the family consisting of Shirley, James Step-Father Ernie Stewart and James’ sister Patricia moved to Saint Joseph, Missouri. The 15 year old boy was anxious to start his Freshman year at Central High School and on registration day he naturally signed up for Art Classes.

Shirley made it a point to arrange a visit with James’ new art teacher. The teacher listened attentively as Shirley related all of her son’s accomplishments. When Shirley was done speaking the art teacher said, “I do not want your son in my class.” Shirley was shocked. “Why not?” she asked her. “Because I do not need your son showing me up in front of the other students.” James was removed from the class and signed up for the Drafting Class.

The Drafting Class was helpful for James. He had always had an interest in Architecture and the class helped him understand structures and how they went together. He also learned several drawing disciplines which he put into practice later in his life.


In March of 1973 Shirley, now divorced from Ernie, moved herself and her children to Weston, Missouri. Shirley felt the small town life would be good for her family. James first day in his new Highschool West Platte RII was exciting and fast paced. He had never gone to such a small school before. His Freshman class had 66 people.

The history teacher liked for students, especially new ones, to stand before the class and give a brief history of their family. She asked James to do this. At the end of the class James was still answering questions. His family history dated back to 1543 and he knew much of it but that was not what kept his classmates asking questions. They had never met a real Gypsy before and they were fascinated by his Romani Heritage.

As James went to his next class a girl who had been in his history class was trying to get his attention. Her name was Melinda Guiles and she was his new next door neighbor. Melinda could not remember his name so from the opposite end of the crowded hallway from where James was at she yelled; “HEY! HEY YOU! HEY GYPSY!” If you ask the people that Gypsy went to school with what his real name is they will either say “Gypsy” or JAGS which is how he signed his artwork at the time.


In March of 1974 MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas announced an Art Contest that would take place during an annual church conference at the University. Gypsy’s minister Richard Parrot suggested he entered. Gypsy created a black and blue pen and ink drawing of Christ on the Cross for his entry. It did not win. The winner was a very basic pencil drawing rendered by the University President’s daughter. Despite the biased loss Gypsy’s artwork was notice by the Editor of the Nazarene Publishing House in Kansas City, Missouri. The Editor ask Gypsy if he would be interested in illustrating a couple of stories for their magazines. The answer was an enthusiastic yes.

Gypsy had illustrated two stories. One for The Standard; A story about a Juvenile Court Judge that gives a repeat offender a chance to redeem himself. The other story was in a smaller periodical and was called “Sometimes They Gather”. It was a “Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover” story. Gypsy was paid $75 for each illustration. Both of these works made Gypsy not only a published artist but also a profession artist at 17 years of age. Shortly after these two publications were distributed worldwide the Editor approached Gypsy with a special project.

The Editor, remembering the pen and ink picture Gypsy had entered in the University Art Contest, asked him to create a head and shoulder drawing of a cheerful Jesus for a calendar the publishing house was doing that would, like the magazines, be distributed worldwide. When Gypsy told his mother about it is gleefully exclaimed, “You’ll be famous.” Gypsy smiled at the thought as it was one of his goals. When Gypsy was 10 years old and had still been James his mother asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. The child had said, without hesitation, “I want to be an Artist, I want to be famous and I want to be rich.” Gypsy felt like he was on his way to those 3 goals.


The calendar came out with Gypsy’s artwork on it. He had created a sort of Cameo depiction of Jesus. Gypsy was proud of his artwork and Shirley was even prouder showing it to everyone she could. A couple of months later as Shirley was coming home from work she saw a car in front of her that had a bumper sticker that featured her sons artwork with the words “Jesus Saves”. She followed the car and when it stopped she asked the woman who was driving it if she could look at the bumper sticker. Along the bottom of the bumper sticker was the copyright info and the publisher; Nazarene Publishing House. There was also a line that listed the artist and it wasn’t her son.

When Shirley got home she phoned the Editor at Nazarene Publishing House and demanded he explain himself. He stated that since the Publishing House had paid Gypsy for the artwork it was theirs to use as they saw fit. He also said, “If we want to attribute the art to one of our better known artists we can do that also.” Gypsy never did freelance art for the Nazarene Publishing House again.


Gypsy continued to enter and win art shows. Gypsy started expanding past pen and:ink and watercolors trying his hand at Acrylics. His first effort, a face of Christ on the cross, was very primitive and would not reflect his later, more experienced efforts. In January 1976 Gypsy graduated midterm from West Platte Highschool. At the same time he discovered that his mother had sent a portfolio of his art to Hallmark Cards.

Gypsy had an interview with a Hallmark recruiter and was offered a 15 year contract. Gypsy turned it down. At 19 years old Gypsy could not see anyone owning his soul for 15 years. Looking for ways to kill time rather than go home and tell his mother he would not be creating art for Hallmark Gypsy stopped by a Tattoo Studio. That visit led to a lifetime career. Read The Entire Story Of That Day Here.

Since 1976 Gypsy has practiced the Ancient Art of Tattooing. He also continued to refine his fine art. In 1977 Gypsy attended Platte College in Saint Joseph, Missouri where he studied Mechanical Drafting and Technical Illustration. In 1978 Gypsy became the Business Manager for the Missouri Reapers Motorcycle Club. It was this step into the world of the Outlaw Biker that led to “The” being added to Gypsy’s name.


Gypsy noticed that a lot of Bikers were using the moniker “Gypsy” as their club or rider name yet none of them were actually Romani. When Gypsy would question them about their use of the name he would often get one of two responses; “I’m a free spirit”  or “I travel a lot”.

Gypsy felt that Gadje (those who are not Gypsy) who used the name of his people who were not Romani did a disservice to the traditions, culture and history tied to the Gypsies. So Gypsy added  “The” to his name and capitalized “GYPSY” to set himself apart from those who appropriated the name Gypsy who were not Gypsy.

The GYPSY started signing his less serious artwork “The GYPSY” while signing his more serious pieces “JAG”. A good example of this was when he would hand paint a Motorcycle tank or helmet he would sign it “The GYPSY”. When he did a painting he would sign it “JAG”. He carried this into his Body Art career eventually being known as Tattoo Artist The GYPSY.


The GYPSY had the first legal Body Art Studios in Saint Joseph, Missouri – Abilene, Texas – San Angelo, Texas – Midland, Texas – Baxter Springs, Kansas – Independence, Kansas – Iola, Kansas – Clyde, Texas and Eula, Texas. The GYPSY created and promoted the first Tattoo Show From 1993 – 1997 first in Baxter Springs, Kansas and then in Pittsburg, Kansas. The GYPSY was Chairperson for the Baxter Springs Joint Tourism and Beatification Committee from 1993 to 2000. He was also a board member of the Southeast Kansas Tourism Region. From 1995 to 2010 The GYPSY was the official authority and regulator on Tattooing for the Osage Nation.

In 2008 The GYPSY took and passed the Tattoo Mastery Test presented by the Alliance of Professional Tattooist. At that time The GYPSY became one of only 27 people worldwide who had passed the test and earned the title Master Tattoo Artist. In 2009 The GYPSY was appointed by Kansas Governor Mark Parkinson to the Kansas Board of Cosmetology as the Body Art Industry Representative for the State of Kansas.

The GYPSY has art exhibited in the Baxter Springs History Museum as well as being featured as an American Artist in a traveling art exhibit in Australia.  He has won numerous awards for his tattoo art and has been featured in television and movie documentaries. The GYPSY is the most experienced Body Artist in the State of Kansas. In 2016 The GYPSY closed the doors on his Skin Art Creations Tattoo Emporium studio and entered semi-retirement.


In 2015 The GYPSY started the restoration of Animal Land. Animal Land is located in Gage Park in Topeka, Kansas and is a park within the park filled with large climbable whimsical concrete animal statues.  The statues had been neglected for years and instead of being re-stained they had been painted over. The GYPSY was taking on the project was looking for volunteers to help strip the paint and re-stain the statues.

The GYPSY met Raychel “Mad Hatter” Smith when she answered the call for Volunteers and showed up at the park ready to work. The GYPSY gave her the job of restoring the Great Blue Whale. Mad Hatter had spent several Sundays removing the years of paint from the whale.

On the Sunday morning the volunteers were to start staining the statues a group of vandals had struck Animal Land and spray painted graffiti on all the statues. The volunteers spent the day removing the graffiti. The GYPSY spent every night in Animal Land to prevent further vandalism until the project was completed.

During the shared experience of restoring Animal Land The GYPSY became good friends with Mad Hatter and each others muse. When The GYPSY’s marriage to his wife of nineteen years, Debbie, collapsed in 2017 Mad Hatter was there to lend a friendly ear and help her friend through the stressful and trying time. The friends became closer and soon fell in love. The GYPSY and Mad Hatter were married in a backyard ceremony at Mad Hatter’s cousin April Shields home on August 1, 2020 among family and friends.


In January of 2019 The GYPSY and Mad Hatter decided to combine their LLC’s under The GYPSY’s LLC of Tatman Productions LLC. They opened a new Studio under the name Artist Alley Studio. The Studio would feature Body Art, Portrait Art and Fine Art. They rented a studio space at the Amused Gallery in the NOTO Arts District of Topeka.

They soon outgrew the space and in February of 2020 their friend Teresa Patterson told them that the retail space next door would be available to rent on March 1st. Mad Hatter and The GYPSY wasted no time and rented the location at 5836 SW Topeka Blvd. with plans for the Grand Opening on April 1st. On March 25, 2020 the State of Kansas went into Quarantine due to the Coronavirus Pandemic. Tattoo, Piercing and Art Studio’s were not essential businesses.

During the lock down The GYPSY and Mad Hatter busied themselves with making their studio the best it could be and anxiously awaited word of when they could open. That word came on May 18, 2020. The Artist Alley Studio has been opened since and has experienced a thriving and steady business thanks to the hard work that The GYPSY and his wife have put into it as well as the Blessings of God.

In March 2022 Mad Hatter was diagnosed with Stage 2 Lung Cancer. After 10 weeks of Chemo Therapy the mass was gone. We attributed the miracle to the power of prayer and God’s intervention. When Mad Hatter went in for her 90 day check up another mass was found. This new breast cancer is inoperable.

At the time of the diagnosis I cut my hours at the studio to spend more time with Mad Hatter. I also started doing online Art Tutorials. I have started turning my focus more towards fine art making body art my secondary focus. This is allowing me to have more time with Mad Hatter with whatever time she has left.

What does the future hold? Only God knows. We trust in God’s plan and have Faith that though we may not understand that plan it is what is for the best. So I continue to create my art knowing that God will provide and that I have cherished and precious time with my love, Mad Hatter.

“Art in order to be art must evoke an emotion. If it creates only indifference then it is not art; it is garbage.” 

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