Cory Hand hasn’t always been into tattooing.
Not too long ago, he was burning the candle from both ends, balancing multiple jobs and school and running on little to no sleep, when he fell asleep at the wheel. The ensuing crash left a small scar and some memory loss, but in a roundabout sort of way, it also forged a path ahead.
“I ended up dropping out of school. After months of reconstructive surgery I had to wear this mask,” he says, gesturing to an area that encompasses his entire face. “It’s hard to go to school and concentrate when you have this big plastic thing on your face. So I dropped out and kept tattooing. I already had a career at that point, I was just trying to make my parents happy.”
Hand started tattooing in Alabama ten years ago and, from there, moved to Mississippi and then to Savannah. The Butcher isn’t the first place in town he’s worked, but it’s the bes t fit.
“You’ve gotta have a good chemistry,” he says. “They’re more relaxed about stuff, more concerned with us doing what we want to do and enjoying work. You don’t want it to be stressful; you get your best product when you feel comfortable.”
Hand credits the Butcher’s location for its popularity—the Bay Street location means the shop gets a lot of foot traffic and a lot of walk-ins.
“We have tons of people trying to get tattooed, but there’s only room enough for five of us,” he says. “We have to turn most of them away. If they don’t want to set appointments or are only in town for a little bit, we take the time to hang out with them and talk to them and help them develop their ideas. If we can’t do it, we let them know where to go in town.”
There’s a lot of camaraderie between the shops in town, Hand says, that really creates a cohesive tattoo community.
“It’s pretty friendly compared to most,” he says. “Everybody hangs out together. If we see something another artist would be better equipped to do, we’ll send them there instead of trying to get all the money.”
One style Hand will pass on to a different shop?
“Traditional, oddly enough,” he says. “I can’t wrap my mind around it for some reason. You have to simplify it to a point, and I can’t.”
Hand’s down to tattoo everything else, though—he loves his job and the work he does.
“I just like to tattoo,” Hand shrugs. “I definitely enjoy making the money we make, but for the most part I like drawing on people. It’s a fun job. You get to meet a lot of cool people; everything’s usually super chill.”
Runner up: Marcus Dove