The Man Behind the Ink


Photos Courtesy of Dave Laus

Stylist: Alex Salazar from LuxeandCity
MUA: Gabbi Villalta –

Fashion: Demo Baza

In the dazzling pantheon of self-made entrepreneurs, where ingenuity and grit are the currencies of success, Daymond John shines as a beacon of entrepreneurial brilliance. His journey, etched with the bold strokes of determination and innovation, resonates deeply in the hearts of those who dare to dream and turn those dreams into empires. From the vibrant pages of Inked Magazine, we celebrate the remarkable odyssey of Daymond John—a trailblazing entrepreneur, charismatic TV personality, inspiring motivational speaker and insightful New York Times best selling author.

John’s ascent from humble beginnings to becoming a luminary in the business world is a testament to the power of vision fused with unyielding perseverance. His story isn’t just one of success; it’s a masterclass in transforming obstacles into steppingstones. As the founder of FUBU, a game-changer in the fashion industry, and a revered shark on the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” John has not just entered the arena of the greats; he has become a guiding star for aspiring entrepreneurs. John reflects in his own words, “Hopefully, I inspired people around the world with FUBU to take control of their own communities of culture and life and, you know, be part of your community and show people they can empower themselves.” His legacy extends far beyond the boardroom. It is etched in the minds and hearts of those who look to him as a symbol of what can be achieved when passion meets purpose. In every keynote, every page of his books and every investment, John doesn’t just share a strategy; he shares a piece of his soul. His journey, marinated in resilience and adorned with accolades, serves as a blueprint for success that is revered by some of the most recognized self-made entrepreneurs on the planet. 

John’s life and legacy are not just about building a brand; they’re about building a brighter future for all who are bold enough to chase their dreams. His footprint on the world of business and entrepreneurship is as indelible as it is inspiring, making him a true icon in the pantheon of self-made success stories.

In the grand tapestry of life, we all embark on unique journeys, each with its own humble beginnings. John’s entrepreneurial odyssey commenced with a venture that saw him navigating the bustling streets of New York City in a 15-passenger van, collecting dollar fares from passengers at various bus routes. Little did he know that these early days would hold a profound significance, etching memories that still resonate with him today.

A chance encounter with a woman during those van rides left an indelible mark and is forever imprinted in John’s mind and on his skin as a reminder of the divine path he treads, guided by a higher purpose. John states, “She makes her way through the van, gives me two dollars and says you know you have the mark of God on you and I see you in front of millions of people.” At the time, he may not have fully grasped the gravity of her words. Yet, destiny had more in store. Years later, another woman, on a subway platform, echoed the same prophetic message. John states, “And then I remember when the woman who gave me the document handed me the document to me, she would say you have the mark of God on our documents.”  It was a cosmic coincidence that couldn’t be ignored. Intriguingly, fate revealed itself through John’s government-issued document bearing a couple numbers on it with the sequence of numbers ‘7777’. “I think the one that I love the most is the 7777 that are basically on my shoulder on my neck and every time that I look inside the mirror and I’m ready in the morning I see the mark of God on me.”

Vest: John Varvatos / Bracelets: William Henry

Behind the Ink

John, a man with a compelling story, opens up about the hidden message behind some of his tattoos. In a candid revelation, he emphasizes that his tattoos are often concealed from the public eye. However, there’s one tattoo that holds a special place in his heart, one that reads “Who God bless no man shall curse,” gracefully extending from his chest to his neck. John intentionally allows this particular tattoo to peek out on occasion. This inked expression is a symbol of his journey from the streets to success. He strategically ensures it’s visible, yet never overpowering. This discreet revelation allows people to connect with his background and upbringing, recognizing the essence of his remarkable journey at any moment.

Another touching back story involves John’s Statue of Liberty arm tattoo which embodies the spirit and symbolism of this iconic American monument. The Statue of Liberty has always been a powerful representation of freedom, opportunity and the enduring promise of the United States. John’s personal connection to the statue, seeing it as a symbol of hope and progress, is incredibly inspiring. It’s a testament to the idea that hard work and determination can lead to success in America, regardless of one’s background or circumstances. “She (the Stature of Liberty) symbolizes the fact that a little brown boy with no education, no money, no famous last name, no legacy of people that could have taught me anything, whose great grandparents were slaves, would be, you know who I am today.”

John draws in more inspiration from LL Cool J’s iconic microphone tattoo, which wraps around his arm and admits, “LL is somebody who was extremely important to my career and the love of music and his longevity by seeing that mic, I think that was one of those symbols that reminded me that there’s something about music that will never die in him.” John then proudly unveils his sleeve, adorned with an exquisite tattoo of his beloved daughter. This image, more than any other, epitomizes the transformative power of love and the profound depths of a father’s affection. This incredible work of art was masterfully crafted by none other than Arlo DiCristina, a renowned tattoo artist who stands among the top most celebrated talents in the world today. For John, tattoos are deeply personal symbols that he wants to carry with him throughout his life, even to the grave. It’s a beautiful testament to the lasting impact of art and passion.

Glasses: Louis Vuitton

Evolving Acceptance of Tattoos

John offers his perspective on the evolving acceptance of tattoos in professional settings. He believes that the transformation began with visionaries like Steve Jobs, who challenged the status quo by thinking differently.

According to John, the real paradigm shift occurred when individuals with tattoos and piercings, who may have appeared unconventional, proved to be some of the smartest tech and software experts. “These people broke stereotypes and demonstrated that tattoos were just a form of self-expression, rather than an indicator of one’s character. In the tech world, the transition from suits to casual attire like t-shirts allowed more visibility of body art. This change enabled professionals to walk into a room dressed casually, much like Mark Zuckerberg, while proudly displaying their ink.” John asserts that the business world is increasingly accepting of this shift.

Furthermore, John suggests that having tattoos can even be seen as a necessity in certain contexts, especially when interacting with communities or industries where body art is prevalent. John states, “Actually, I think it’s almost a bit of a necessity in certain things that you’re dealing with or certain ways that you are operating a business that maybe serves the community. For example, in the music or sports industry, looking like you understand and accept the culture you serve can be crucial. It demonstrates solidarity and avoids the appearance of exploitation.”

John acknowledges that not everyone expresses support in the same way, but emphasizes, “I think the fusion of tattoos and art within the communities that you serve are more expected in the business world. Ultimately, it’s about breaking down stereotypes and embracing diversity in all its forms.

Photos Courtesy of Dave Laus

Tattoos and Personal Journeys: Art for Addiction 

Artists are driven by a desire to bring joy and self-expression to the world, often battling hidden addictions. Despite their incredible creativity, many remain unnoticed without big leagues or record labels. Sadly, recognition often comes posthumously, fueled by the same addictions that inspire their art. With conviction, John shares, “I’m committed to shedding light on this issue through Joe Polish’s organization, “Artists for Addicts,” aiming to empower artists to create their own support systems within the community and provide access to much-needed help. It’s all about giving artists the recognition and support they deserve.” For more information, visit

John’s passion for helping artists and creating meaningful organizations within the artist community is truly inspiring. His dedication to supporting their creative endeavors and allowing them to take the lead in shaping these organizations is a testament to his commitment to the art world. It’s akin to the art of a tattoo, where the artist’s vision and the individual’s personal story come together to create something unique and beautiful. John’s efforts in this regard are sure to leave an indelible mark on the art community, just like a masterful tattoo on one’s skin.

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