Army veteran fosters down-to-earth environment at All American Tattoo shop

Owner finds passion for painting after suffering stroke


Owner of All-American Tattoo, Tom Morris, working on a Tiger tattoo sketch. All American Tattoo has been in business for 10 years | Sam Jackson for The Easterner

By Sam Jackson, Reporter

Tom Morris, owner of All American Tattoo, considers his shop to be the “un-tattoo shop” of Spokane because they don’t call themselves the cool kids or the hipsters, they’re just people.

“When you get down to it, there is a hell of a lot more people than hipsters,” Morris said.  

All American Tattoo has been in its current location for the last 10 years. Morris and his father–who recently passed away in April–started this shop together. Morris’ father only did tattooing a few times, but never professionally. That being said, Morris owes his work ethic to him.

Morris has been professionally tattooing for 26 years. He discovered his passion for tattoos in the military and was always designing tattoos for his buddies while in the service. Morris served the army in Panama, Honduras and Iraq for four years.

“My grandfather and my uncle were military men and they had tattoos, those were two big guys I always looked up to” said Morris. “So I decided they were cool and I was going to get tattoos because that was one of the things I noticed about them and I thought it was great.”

Morris’ style is to make people happy, he will put together custom stuff for anybody. All he requires is that they have some input into the work they want done.

“You show him what you and want he just goes with it,” said Dave Szymarek, who’s been coming to Morris for the last 21 years.

Over the last five years, Morris discovered his passion for painting after having a stroke. On Friday the 13th, a chiropractor adjusted his in which tore his brain stem open. The following Monday, he went to the hospital and couldn’t legibly write his name down. He says his dad pulled a “Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid” and had him do different exercises, including painting, so he could get back into the groove of things.

“He had me moving a paint brush this way, stacking marbles onto golf tees, tying knots,” said Morris. “But painting, I always wanted to do it. I never got to do it because I was working six days a week at the time and pretty slammed, but when I started painting with brushes I couldn’t do my fine name but I could do water colors full of big strokes. So the big stroke eventually made way for finer control and I just stuck with it, I love it …”

The way his shop is set up, he is able to paint all day by himself or with people and if he ends up doing a tattoo that day as well, that’s great too.

“I kinda feel like I did my bit for society and now I’m going to do my bit for Tommy,” Morris said.

If anyone wants to set up an appointment with Morris the best way to do it is by walk-in and his son/apprentice will put them in the books. He has an $80 minimum and he works in sessions.

“The work I do here is ongoing, so I work two to three hours at a time on somebody,” said Morris. “I generally only work on two people a day, but I work on them all day long.”

Morris describes the vibe of the shop to be pretty laid back. Since he has the shop completely paid off, that gives him the opportunity to not feel the financial pressures of running a business.

“This to me is the funnest place on Earth, I come here to visit my friends,” said Morris. “We laugh and joke and find out about how everybody is doing, it’s really fun. That’s a magical spot you can get to in your life, when you can just work because you want to.”

All American Tattoo is located at 2425 N Monroe St in Spokane. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m.