Semiretired Pro Freestyle Motocross Rider Opens Shade of Grey Ink & Gallery
Writer / Matt Keating
Mark Merrix, the sole owner of Shade of Grey Ink & Gallery, loves and appreciates art in all different forms.
He says it continually inspires him in his work.
Merrix, also known as Weetle, is a self-taught, multidisciplinary artist and semiretired professional freestyle motocross rider.
“I opened Shade of Grey just over two years ago with the intention of providing fine art in all forms,” he says. “This includes realism tattoos, airbrushing, murals, paintings, hand-painted helmets and other custom works of art. I’ve always loved working for myself. I started my art career in my teens over 20 years ago, creating hand-inked custom sweatshirts, shoes, handbags, jeans, T-shirts, etcetera, called Weetle Wear.”
Weetle Wear quickly gained a strong following. “Weetle Wear was the lead way for me to get into tattooing,” Merrix says. “I was offered several apprenticeships by respected tattoo artists over the years after seeing my work in Weetle Wear.”
Merrix says he has been having a great time.
“Having lived my dream as a professional freestyle motocross rider, performing in over two countries and 36 states, I was ready for a change,” he says. “I was ready for a new challenge in a new medium. Finally, it was tattooing.”
Merrix notes that his apprenticeships helped him tremendously.
“I was very ambitious during my apprenticeship and obtained my permit fairly quick,” he says. “I knew I wanted my own private studio to have full control. I like knowing it’s properly cleaned as tattoos are minor surgery to the skin.”
Merrix notes that cleanliness is extremely important at Shade of Grey.
“Cleanliness is always at the top of what’s most important to me as a professional artist,” he says. “Having a positive and clean atmosphere also helps in the creative process.”
Merrix is very focused on the quality of his work.
“I’m not open to the public, because I don’t like interruptions during my work and I didn’t want a tattoo ‘shop’ for that very reason,” he says. “I have no employees. It’s just me. I do all of it.”
He likes it this way. “My consultations are by appointment only and each client gets my full, uninterrupted attention while in my gallery,” he says.
Merrix notes that clients will love his work.
“I’ve spent time preparing my gallery for the best experience possible and it’s still a work in progress,” he says. “I’m ready for clients I can collaborate with, creating custom designs for my fine-art tattoos. I specialize in cover-ups as well as photorealism tattoos, but I’m also not opposed to any other tattooing styles. I’m looking for clients who can appreciate quality over quantity. I’m a firm believer in treating others as I would like to be treated. Being a highly passionate person, I run on high energy. I give everything I have every time. Energy needs to be reciprocated for a collaboration to work best.”
Merrix has enjoyed letting more people know about his work.
“Last weekend I attended my first soirée as Shade of Grey, providing tiny tattoos for the evening at The Rose Collective/The Garden room in Wabash, Indiana,” he says. “This weekend I have my first out-of-state client coming from Texas. I’m starting a sleeve with a portrait of his son and daughter. I have also recently started a new, 6- by 40-foot mural inside the gallery, and have a new oil painting titled ‘What May Be’ to add to my gallery wall, which is coming out in January 2024. I’m excited to offer my services to northern Indiana and beyond. I want to say thanks and God bless America!”
Merrix adds that he is grateful to a lot of people.
“I also want to thank my fans, friends and family who have helped me get here, especially my beautiful wife, Leah Merrix, who is also a versatile artist finding success with her watercolor pet portraits,” Merrix says, adding that those interested in Leah’s work can visit her Instagram page @merrixpetpaintings.
Contact Shade of Grey, located at 708 Main Street in Rochester, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and call or text 765-460-7115 to schedule a consultation. Check them out on Facebook @weetlewear, on Instagram @we3tle, and on their YouTube channel, We3tle.