Hello and welcome back to our Spotlight on Portland series! The latest in our Spotlight series highlighting local, Portland businesses features the Portland tattoo artist Mike Freeman from Oddball Studios in Southeast Portland.

Mike is talented, kind, and funny, so we highly recommend you check him out sometime soon if you're considering adding some ink to your collection!

Mike is graciously and generously offering 3 prizes for our readers! He is offering up one hour of free tattoo work to one lucky winner and a free, limited edition artwork print for two other lucky winners. Please visit this post our Facebook page for details and to enter!

Now, on to our conversation...

How long have you been tattooing in Portland and at OddBall Tattoo?

I have been working at Oddball for 16 years as of this August! I apprenticed under Jason Leisge for two years and then got licensed in 2004.

Mike Freeman, front and center, at Oddball Studios

Mike Freeman (front & center) at Oddball Studios

How has it been working at the same shop for so long?

It is pretty cool, at least to me. It is kind of weird because I don't know many people my age who have worked in the same two rooms for over 15 years. Sometimes I ask myself if it would be more ambitious to leave, but I just love it here. I have been really lucky to work with some incredibly inspiring tattooers here over the years. Some people have really good technique, some can draw or paint or maybe they run their operations in a certain special way. So i feel like my hands have been pretty full just learning from my coworkers and guest tattooers.

How has the city changed since you started and how has that changed your work?

I moved up here from the bay area in 2001. I was young and looking for cheap rent and a house with a basement to play music in. Back then the city felt a little more blue collar. I think there were good and bad things about how it was. Back then I think most tattooers here knew each other or at least knew of one another. There were probably less than 100 tattooers here then. The last I heard, there is over 500 shops in the metro area now. So that sense of community has changed. Portland has always offered me a lot in the way of clients. I have built a good life for myself and met some of the most fascinating people. I love hearing people's wild stories.

As the culture of tattooing has developed here I have definitely noticed more collector type clients who want a little something from a bunch of tattooers.

I understand you do a fair bit of traveling to other cities/states to do tattoo work. Is there any difference with tattooing in Oregon compared to other states?

The biggest difference to me is probably the licensing and laws. Oregon is one of the strictest states. In Oregon we have to be state licensed and keep records of all sterilization processes and standards for applications and things like that.

Do you have a specific style of tattooing that you specialize in?

I really enjoy a few different types of tattoos. I like american traditional, japanese, nature scenes and black and gray too. Funny tattoos are always a hoot too.

I bet you have quite a few interesting stories from your time as a tattoo artist. Is there a particular story or experience that stands out?

Most of those stories aren't really cut out for being on the record. I did once tattoo an Olympic medalist who told me they got drunk and tried to meet Kristi Yamaguchi during her time as an announcer. I guess they thought they were a maniac or something and kicked them out. They ended up having to sneak back in to the Olympic Village. We also happen to have a current olympian client who is on the synchronized swimming team. She is really nice.

Do you have a tattoo or two that you've done recently that you really love?

I just finished a big squid on a thigh. It was super fun. I ended up making a nice friend and the tattoo came out great. It is always so rewarding to see a large tattoo come together. It takes a special kind of person to commit to a tattoo on that scale and endure the pain to get it. It makes large scale pieces uniquely powerful.

Thigh tattoo by Mike Freeman

Arm tattoo by Mike Freeman

Art by Mike Freeman


As a Portland area real estate agent, I strive to add value to visitors of my website and social media pages by providing useful and helpful real estate information, market updates, tips and tricks for buyers and sellers, and more. 

Additionally, I believe in the idea of building community and relationships whenever possible. I am hoping use my platform to help connect people to the many wonderful small businesses in town. No matter where you live in Portland, there are many amazing people in your close proximity that are working tirelessly to provide something special for you, something that they believe in, something that they have expertise and passion in.

If you are a small business owner and would like to be featured on this series, please contact andy@hometeamportland.com.  


Previous Spotlight on Portland articles:

The Galvanizing Group - Brand Strategy Consulting, Speaking, Coaching and More.

Bhaktishop Yoga Center - Yoga Classes and Teacher Trainings