Submitted 05.08.24

From Tattooing to Custom Sneakers: Thom Bulman's Journey of Creative Entrepreneurship Fireside Tattoo Network

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many individuals reassessed their career paths and explored new avenues for creative expression and entrepreneurship. Thom Bulman, a 17-year veteran tattoo artist, embarked on a remarkable journey of transition, moving from the world of tattooing to establishing his own custom sneaker brand, Bull Airs. In this interview, Thom candidly shares his experiences, challenges, and triumphs in navigating this transition and building a thriving business in the custom fashion industry.

A Desire for Change

For Thom, the decision to transition from tattooing to custom sneaker design stemmed from a desire for change and the uncertainty surrounding the future of tattooing amidst the pandemic. Faced with the possibility of another shutdown and grappling with the need to make real decisions about his career, Thom saw an opportunity to channel his artistic talents into a new venture that combined his love for pop culture with his passion for creating wearable art.

Scaling Up and Overcoming Challenges

Transitioning from a hobby to a full-fledged business presented its own challenges for Thom. From scaling up production to outsourcing manufacturing to China, Thom navigated the complexities of establishing a new brand in the competitive custom shoe market. Legal issues such as licensing and cease and desist orders added another layer of complexity, requiring Thom to strategize and adapt to ensure the success of Bull Airs.

The Creative Process and Vision for the Future

Despite the challenges, Thom remains deeply passionate about the creative process and his company's potential for growth and innovation. He emphasizes the importance of balancing creativity with business acumen while also envisioning Bull Airs as a recognized and respected brand in the custom shoe industry. With a focus on identifying niche markets, filling voids, and delivering unique offerings, Thom is poised to continue pushing boundaries and expanding his creative horizons.


Thom Bulman's journey from tattooing to custom sneaker design is a testament to the resilience and creativity of artists in the face of adversity. Thom has carved out a distinctive path in fashion entrepreneurship by embracing change, overcoming challenges, and staying true to his artistic vision. As he continues to evolve and grow Bull Airs, Thom inspires others to pursue their passions and explore new opportunities for creative expression.


In an ever-changing world, Thom Bulman stands as a beacon of innovation and determination, reminding us that with passion and perseverance, anything is possible.


Learn More: 

Business and Mindset: Side Hustle Gone Wild Thom Bulman EP 279

Tattoo Resources from Beginner to Advanced

No matter where you are in your tattooing career the Fireside Tattoo Network provides resources and information that have helped hundreds of tattoo artists.

Are you just starting out in your tattoo journey? Maybe you've been at it for a while and didn't have a traditional tattoo apprenticeship? Fireside has courses and programs for anyone who's hungry for information and wants to level up their tattoo design skills.

The Fireside Method:

Check out a few of our interviews with tattoo artists and Deep Dive articles:

Still interested, need more!? Check out our Full Podcast Episodes HERE!

Recent News