You may know him from the A&E docuseries “Hero Ink” that features Prison Break Tattoos in Houston, but studio owner Bryan “BK” Klevens, a 25-year veteran of the Houston Police Department, is bigger than life in many ways – especially when it comes to giving back to first responders and the city he loves.
This is his story.
For the past 25 years, BK has dedicated his life to serving the citizens of Houston, working his way up the ranks to his position today as sergeant. He is a true believer that with hard work and perseverance, anything is possible.
His earlier years were spent in a relentless passion for the arts, graduating from the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts then Southwest Texas State University, where he performed, directed, and created amazing works of art, enhancing and refining his skills along the way.
That passion for art and willingness to learn propelled him to spend years around tattoo studios with brilliant tattoo artists whose work and training gave him the ability to master the details and visual effects needed for mind-blowing body art.
Throughout that time, BK noticed something that would ultimately change his life. Each time he
was inside a tattoo studio, he felt on edge, especially given the anti-police rhetoric throughout the country. So about seven years ago, he set out to change that.
Enter Prison Break Tattoos, the local tattoo studio BK created with a focus on first responders – not just law enforcement but all first responders including firefighters, doctors, nurses, EMTs, and more.
He assembled a team of some of the best artists he had encountered through the years, and his studio caught on quickly. Today, about 95% of his business comes from first responders. His customers get tattoos that signify pivotal moments in their careers in a safe environment away from harm. BK says, “I wanted to create an environment where off-duty public servants would feel at home. By creating something comfortable for myself, I created something that was comfortable for other first responders and their family members.” Prison Break Tattoos was designed to be family friendly, clean, and fun with its prison-like theme of bars, cots, electric chairs, etc. It also serves as a museum of sorts with police and firefighter memorabilia honoring fallen heroes. People from all over the country come to see the location and get tattoos.
BK is careful to match each client with the artist he feels will offer the best connection. In the “Hero Ink” docuseries, which BK hosts and helps produce, the artists work to create a permanent tribute as police officers, firefighters, EMS professionals, and members of the military share their emotional stories of heroism, which are brought to life through body-cam footage, news coverage, and personal photos.
BK believes tattoos can serve as a conversation generator and create a bond between police officers and members of the community who normally might not have a lot in common.
Now more than ever, BK’s business right now is about giving back!
According to BK, tattoos are not the biggest part of his very successful tattoo studio. A big part of his business has always been giving back to the first responders who risk their lives every day. An ardent supporter of The 100 Club, he donates part of the money generated from tattoo sales to that and other organizations that support law enforcement. And he is always quick to support businesses that are owned by first responders.
While at the time of this writing BK’s tattoo studio has been closed for about six weeks due to COVID-19 with no income coming in, he is working harder than ever.
He has personally purchased and donated 650 masks and provided more than 550 meals for police officers and other first responders. He has started a Go Fund Me page to help officers during this time.
“This situation we are all in – its nobody’s fault. I am going to do anything and everything I possibly can to help others during this time,” he says.
Even though Prison Break Tattoos is closed for tattoos, he has put his location at 5306 Washington Avenue in Houston to work as a donation center, and he and others are working to get critical supplies to where they are most needed.
WHAT YOU CAN DO NOW:
Gather items such as toilet paper, hand sanitizer, masks, food, etc.
Drop them off to the studio or text BK at 713-465-3387 to have his team schedule a pickup.
Spread the word and share it on social media.
Donate to his GoFundMe page and he will get funds to the officers in need.
BK, like all of us, is looking forward to the day when things get back to a “new normal.” He is quick to say that when his studio is back up and running again, they will follow all of the government guidelines with great care. He says, “It’s important to me that anyone who visits our studio feels safe and comfortable. My artists have always worn masks while creating tattoos, so that is nothing new for us. If someone doesn’t feel comfortable in a small space, we are happy to make private appointments and limit the number of people in the studio and we’ll certainly limit the number of appointments throughout the day.”
So, when we get past this time and you’re ready to get inked with your own permanent artistic tribute, Prison Break Tattoos and BK will be ready to make it happen. Until then, please pitch in by giving back and supporting our first responders who put their lives on the line for us every day.