Get To Know The Bothers Of R-N-R ​​
Originally hailing from Baltimore, Ray followed his family to Florida almost two decades ago. While the move to Florida was a fresh start for the Neal family, in Ray’s case, it landed him in the middle of a disagreeable path. Dropping out of high school in his freshman year, Ray traipsed on the wrong side of the law before finally landing in prison at the young age of 23.

Ray served six and a half years in prison due to the violent nature of his charges. During this period, he took the time to focus on his anger issues—weeding out the cause and learning self control. Instead of allowing the system to beat him down, Ray utilized his time in prison to not only finish his high school education, but to earn several additional certificates which would allow him to get his life back on track upon his release. Within his six year sentence, Ray managed to earn certifications in Comp TIA networking and IT and receive a vocational certificate in PC support.

After completing his education, he entered into a work release program in 2013, finding employment at a call center as a customer service representative. Proving his desire to move forward with his life, he has since been promoted six times and is currently a Quality Assurance Supervisor, managing a team of 14 employees at this same company.

It was during Ray’s stent at the work release program that RNR Custom Tattoos and Apparel began to take shape. Working in coordination with his brother, Roger Neal, Ray began to save every penny he took home from his full-time work release employment. Knowing he wanted to hit the ground running, he painstakingly researched and organized everything he could while still incarcerated, handling all of the licensing and building the foundation of the business.

During the process, Ray faced many struggles while attempting to secure a space for his vision. Locating a landlord who was willing to take a chance on a convicted felon was daunting, but he didn’t let the rejections get him down. His determination paid off, and only a day after his official release Ray was handed the keys to the space that would become RNR Custom Tattoos and Apparel.  

Today, Ray strives to empower and educate those in the community about the struggles many face after release. He wants to promote a message—through the shop—that people make mistakes and should not be haunted by them for a lifetime. Through telling his own story, he hopes that people will see that you don’t have to be a statistic, you can be successful. Regardless of the amount of certificates Ray earned during his incarceration, the biggest lesson he learned was that, at the end of the day, you only have yourself. You have to have that desire to put your past behind you and to be successful.
No stranger to art, Roger’s love of art began in his early years, when he began tracing his favorite cartoons. After a year of copying Ninja Turtles, Ghostbusters, and other favorites, he decided to try his hand at creating his own work and thus began his fascination with drawing.

Realizing quickly that he had a talent for art, he took every art class he could in school. In addition to classes offered at the public school he attended, he enrolled in the Art Instruction School for two years. But, while he enjoyed his time in art class, regular school wasn’t holding his attention. Bored, and spending most of his time doodling in class, Roger dropped out during his 9th grade year.

Just before leaving school, Roger began dealing with a deep personal crisis. During his early teen years, he found himself institutionalized, spending a lot of time in the Jacksonville Children’s Crisis Stabilization Unit located at Shands. It was this constant back and forth that eventually led to Roger’s diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.
After several failed attempts to stabilize him through different medicinal combinations, Roger became heavily frustrated with the process and ceased going to treatments. He began self medicating with what he could—drugs, alcohol, and unsavory company. At only 15 years old, he was out on his own, bouncing from couch to couch through a stupor of intoxication.

Several years later, and a teeming list of arrest charges behind him, Roger finally saw an end to his debauchery with the birth of his children. Wanting to provide for his family, he found his way into the nursing field, and started to rebuild his life.

On a whim, he opted to get a tattoo from a friend. Seeing the detail and skill tattooing entailed, he was instantly hooked and quickly found his way back to his art. Diving in once again, Roger began focusing on the finer points of art, including realism, light sourcing, depth perception, and so on. Eventually realizing he had the skill set required, he began tattooing on himself.
Despite family members, friends, and acquaintances consistently telling him he wouldn’t be able to make anything of himself—that he could never be successful with his history—Roger knew he had it in him. The negativity only drove him on, pushing his desire to prove everyone wrong. Knowing he wanted to create something he could be proud of, something that his children could be proud of, Roger jumped at the chance to create the RNR Empire alongside his brother Ray.
And the rest, as they say, is history.