When Your Middle is Danger
When your middle name is Danger, you better have good reason for it. And I’m here to tell you James “Danger” Harvey has indeed earned his stripes. Born in 1980 in Fairbanks, Alaska, James grew up on a ranch built from the ground up by his father’s own hands. And when they weren’t hunting their food, they were slaughtering their bison or cattle for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not an easy way for a boy to grow up, but that’s how it was for he and his brother. After a tough childhood, one he would sooner forget, his mother and father decided to go their separate ways, and so mom packed up the boys and headed for California.
Upon arriving to his new home and school, James soon found an aptitude and appreciation for art and quickly became the center piece for his classmates seeking to see what he was creating each day. He spent most of his artistic energies in math class creating doodling’s of characters and later spent time exploring paints and colors. But it wasn’t all fun, food had to be put on the table, and in Cali one doesn’t just step out the door with the family shotgun to get dinner.
James must have had every menial labor job ever created, coining himself a “jack of all trades.” He’s been a junkyard puller, framer, plumber, electrician, DJ and even worked the door at the local strip club throwing out the undesirables. And after 5 years he finally settled into his calling with tattooing. All the math tests he had turned into art collages hadn’t been a complete waste of time after all. So James started his professional career working for Michael Dragisic in Orangevale where he had an apprenticeship in 2005.
With his newly rebirthed grind for art rising to the surface he tackled many mediums, including; sculpting, welding, painting and last but not least – poetry. Though James readily admits the word “crappy” should be pasted in front of anything having to do with his poetic grace. He has stuck with his true love of tattooing and after spending countless hours improving his technique, went on to win several awards for his work in several categories. It appears his creativity and true love, as well as the one thing that truly brought him peace, has found its way to the surface and he is running with it full speed ahead.
James was quite modest while speaking of his art, often recounting how many talented artists there are in the area and how he is constantly impressed by the work he sees around him and that it pushes him to continually practice, too stay sharp and keep pace with the pack. He is often asked what his favorite style of tattooing is and responded “just about anything really, with the right client and an open mind, one can pretty much make any idea or subject matter fun and original.” He also finds cover-up work fascinating as the challenge is of a much different flavor than a clean slate, “you have a whole new set of obstacles to overcome.” Most importantly however, was the interest voiced in working with his clients, getting two minds on the same page to create a vision and design that works. He readily admits that he isn’t much of a technical tattooer, enjoying instead to let the design develop and flow artists and friends at neighboring Emerald Tattoo in Lodi. Favorite tool of the trade you might ask? His Fallen King Irons. Sounds like something a gunslinger of the past would say, not an artist of the 21 st century. Being one who doesn’t waste a lot of time, but gets into a rhythm and flow, his vaunted Fallen Kings have to date held their own, thus gaining his respect and trust.
You might be wondering about the “Danger” part of his name. Besides spending his youth on a ranch in Alaska, no small task for anyone, he teaches hand to hand combat, practicing Krav Maga, and is a member of Fortress America. Go to their website at Fortressamericaproject.com to see for yourself. Being a gun and blade nut didn’t surprise me at this point, and readily figured if it came down to it I will probably need my truck and just hope he only has a knife on him. Never take a knife to a truck fight right?
As fortunate would have it, or more likely hard work and perseverance, James is now the proud owner of his very own shop “Skin Gallery” located on Auburn Blvd. His trusted co-conspirator Brian Bailey helps keep Danger in line, and while they balance the roles of professionalism and play, they get the job done and do it well. With what little free time he has, you can often spot him cruising the custom motorcycle his friend, and client, Alex English built for him. And when it comes to life and all he has been through, Danger had this to say “I probably drink more than I should, but I try not to take life too seriously and avoid acting my age as much as possible, but still remain highly motivated with my business.” And as his father before him, wouldn’t you know, he built his shop up with his own two hands. Congratulations Danger, well done.
Written by: Christopher Karne Frost