“I started tattooing a long time ago. It chose me to do it.”
Celebrity tattoo artist, Mario Barth, grew up in Austria, where tattooing was not just frowned upon, but completely illegal. Riding motorcycles and hanging out with a rough bunch, he learned the secrets of tattooing underground, in the dark shadows of the earth; every piece of knowledge earned through blood, sweat, and courage.
Despite the many struggles and dangers presented, Mario followed his passion. He devoted himself to learning how to tattoo, no matter the risk.
Mario got his first tattoo in 1978. Thirty-three years later, his entire body is a work of art.
In 1995, Mario immigrated to the states to set up his tattoo shop in Rochelle Park, New Jersey.
It took a while for Barth to develop his large customer base, but he got good exposure in the 90’s from traveling. With 20% of celebrity clientele, including Usher, Lenny Kravitz, Sylvester Stallone and Tommy Lee, Mario owns five tattoo studios: Starlight Tattoo at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, King Ink at the Mirage, Starlight 17 in Rochelle Park, Starlight Belleville in NJ, and one in Pequannock, NJ.
In addition to these tattooing destinations, Mario Barth is the creator and founder of INTENZE Products, the world’s leading tattoo pigment manufacturer. With INTENZE Products, he developed the only form of sterile tattoo pigment with fifty-four colors.
In 2009, Mario hosted and produced The Biggest Tattoo Show on Earth that the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino with over 1,000 artists and over 43, 00 attendees. The convention set the Guinness World Record for the largest tattoo convention in history.
Mario Barth has been tattooing for thirty-four years, with about fifteen of them spent on the road, winning over two-hundred International Awards. He is the center of his very own international enterprise.
In addition to these professional achievements, Mario has been accepted into some of the most rare and coveted tattoo families in the world. He’s been accepted by Horitoshi I to receive a traditional Japanese back piece; which is considered “the Holy Grail” of tattoos by tattoo enthusiasts all over the world.
It’s nearly impossible for a Westerner to get one of these traditional tattoos, and it took Horitoshi I five years to decide whether he should tattoo Barth, or not.
“I have no idea why he chose me, but I’m happy enough that he did. At that time, you don’t ask questions anymore,” Barth stated.
He was also made a Suluape by the sacred Suluape Tatau family in Samoa. Samoans believe that blessings from their parents is what they ultimately strive for, and dictating their every day actions of life, since whoever receives these blessings is respected by all memebers of the ‘aiga, meaning extended family.
Today, Barth has a two-year waiting list, and it takes almost as long to see one of the twenty-eight tattoo artists who work under him in any of his five Starlight Tattoo shops.
Paid by the hour, Mario is versatile in all styles — black and white/gray, color, portraits, writing, traditional, tribal, fineline, realistic, Oriential, Celtic, biomechanical, and cartoons.
“If someone waits a year and a half (and more), that person knows they need that piece. It’s going to be on their body, so it’s not up to me to say no to them. The only time I turn people away is when they’re unsure what they want; but if you decide that you need a strawberry on your body for the rest of your days, and it’s important to you, then it’s my job to put it there. I have no personal attachment to the tattoo; I just make sure my customers leave happy.”
For Mario, it’s always a rewarding and fulfilling feeling when his art is a never-ending passion. There is always something new to learn or experience, whether it’s the art of tattooing, something within the culture, style or the client. Mario is like a psychiarist, clients come in, show their piece, talk about why they want it/what it means to them, where they want it…he listens, tentively, knowing who he’s tattooing is important to him.
He is one of the best, because he listens, he’s interested in getting to know you, as his client and what you need and want. He’s a good man, and a fantastic artist.
This spring, Mario plans to attend the Las Vegas Magic Trade Show, which is a preeminent trade event in the international fashion industry, hosting global buyers and sellers of men’s, women’s and children’s apparel, footwear, accessories, and sourcing resources. The show’s goal is to connect and inspire the fashion community, fuse diverse trends, while offering unbeatable service to its customers.
Mario Barth’s new line of menswear is described as “Versace meets street-wear.” “I know a lot of white-collar people with tattoos, so I wanted to create a clothing line for them,” he says. Currently, he is working on a classic suit with a colorful lining that can go from a meeting to a club. Professional on the outside, what people want to see, and rebel on the inside; just because you’re a professional, doesn’t mean you can’t have a little body art.