why some shops are cut rate, who drew the lion?

the reason some tattoos/piercing shops have really low minimums or hourly costs:

  • little experience or inconsistent abilities,
    substandard, imported inks (could be risky to you),
  • don’t provide follow up
    like good aftercare and personal answers to questions (this should always be available!),
  • don’t care about touchups or fixing a piercing that healed improperly,
  • substandard materials in jewelry, (dangerous!)
  • inconsistent machinery or other actual tattooing gear,
  • not paying for licensing or training (legally required but people will cut corners),
  • not paying taxes, insurance, or other necessities
  • they have known you for twenty years and actually are your real life friend.

my minimum/hourly ensures that I cover the shop’s commission, my equipment (good stuff), and a living wage for a professional in a trade. it also covers any and all time you need to ask me questions afterward via text or email, touchups if needed, aftercare info and good bandaging, continued contact with me in case you have questions, and twenty years of experience.

IMG_20170806_155412_280

it’s my hope that everyone I tattoo, even when they get tattooed by other artists besides me, ONLY ever gets AMAZING tattoos after they get work by me. I want all you guys to get worked on by great artists that treat you well and value your patronage. I know the piercers I work with are the same, they use the best, modern, safe, high quality things and will always help you after.

If you’ve been tattooed by me you can always contact me with questions about anything tattoo related. I’m always here. even if I only did a dot on you. You guys are my people. I want you all to look and feel good.

This is what my hourly and minimum cover, and they’re cheap at the price.

(also, I have PUMPKIN SPICE)

IMG_20170807_213454_441

 

Below, the first kind lion with cherry blossoms and lotuses, was drawn by Guen Douglas. It’s a really good drawing.

She drew it as a custom tattoo for one of her clients. Since then, tons of people have fallen in love with it. That’s fine. A lot of people have copied it exactly though, and that’s not fine!

If you want an amazing lion tattoo it’s OK to say “look, like this, amazing” and bring it as reference or an idea that appeals to you… then have your artist draw you your OWN lion and flowers. Pick your favorite flowers. Make the lion have the kind of look on its face that you want to feel. Hell, pick an animal you identify with instead of a lion! All these things are possible.

The second picture is a fierce lioness with acacia and freesia that I drew for someone. If you pick a good artist they will make you something amazing that is YOURS, not a copy of someone else’s. If you don’t have a good artist… GO GET ONE. If you’re completely fixated on that lion that Guen drew… may I humbly suggest that you contact her and GET TATTOOED BY HER.  She drew it! She’s really good!

Of course if you find a tattoo online that you love, I’ll use it as the basis for your idea. YES. I won’t copy someone else’s tattoo exactly, line for line. that’s THEIR tattoo. We will come up with changes so that it fits YOU .

xox

by Guen Douglas

by Guen Douglas

 

by me, anji marth

by me, anji marth

No, the magic is not gone.

strength tattoo on women

(originally published 07/04/2012)

I was reading both a blog post, and some forum posts, about the state of tattooing this past week, and had a startling realization.

There are tattoo artists out there who have never worked in a studio without being asked about a TV show.

The demand for tattoos, good tattoos, and the number of people tattooing, makes this a completely different subculture than it was when I started out.

Does this mean the magic is gone? Am I no longer a wizard? Did reality TV really eat the soul of tattooing?

Maybe a year or two ago I would have said yes, and ranted for a while about it. But right now- No. I don’t think the soul is gone, we are still wizards, and the magic is still there, and as potent as ever.

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Using the internet to find your next tattoo? Read this.

The internet has so much imagery in it, it’s understandable why you’d want to use it to find good ideas for your next tattoo. But there are a few things to watch out for, and a few things you definitely shouldn’t do.

will bodnar, cicada tattoo, anji marth, high priestess tattoo, at tattoo convention

an artist using antique, copyright-free woodcuts as reference

When you have no idea what you might want, it’s really tempting to just start googling “tattoos” or “tattoos for girls” or something, and look around at what other people have. There’s nothing wrong with this; this is a great way to get ideas, seeds of ideas. You have to be careful though, because these tattoos belong to other people. Either they belong to the tattoo artist or the wearer, one or the other, no exceptions.

They own them.

So, yes, use the images online of other people’s work to get ideas for subject matter or placement- but not as an exact thing to get tattooed. There are reasons for this; ethically, it’s theft for the tattooer who ends up doing your tattoo. They don’t get to really do their best work, because you’ve instead asked them to steal art from someone else. Legally, it’s also theft. The original artist who drew and tattooed it owns the no-shit actual copyright to that tattoo. It’s plagiarism and is considered theft.

You can bring in these images as ideas, as things you like the style or subject of- but you shouldn’t try to get someone else’s tattoo exactly copied onto your own body. I think everyone is entitled to their very own tattoo, and I think artists are entitled to be paid for their work in drawing and designing the tattoos.

DSC_0247

The best way to use the internet for tattoo ideas is to follow the advice here, and use the internet to find the artist that did an awesome tattoo. That way you can go to them and tell them “I liked this piece you did and want something like it” and you will get exactly that, without any ethical problems. You find the artist you want first, then figure out the art with them, this is the very best way to get a very good tattoo done. (this applies to big or small, extensive or simple tattoos.)

big or small!

big or small!

If you bring in someone else’s tattoo and the artist is willing to steal it, they probably are not very skilled to begin with. Good artists won’t steal. Copying someone else’s tattoo is really, really a dick move. It makes you a thief, really and truly it does. I promise that if you find a tattoo artist whose work you love, they will do a MUCH better version of the idea for you, that will suit YOU and not some other random person you’ve never met. Find the tattoo artist you trust, whose work you love, and you won’t have to copy someone else’s tattoo to get something awesome.

ink travelers tattoo convention

Note that while this applies to other people’s tattoos online, it doesn’t work the same way for art in general. If you see a painting you love, and want tattooed, contact the artist who made it and tell them you want to get it tattooed on you. A large majority of artists will just say yes, go for it, or at most they will say “buy a print first please then go right ahead!”

There are very few artists in this world who object to people getting tattoos of their work- but you should always ASK first anyway, because the artist owns that art. They own it. They own the rights to it, and using without permission is stealing. This applies to paintings, photographs of flowers or wild animals, every image has an owner. There are exceptions (copyright-free websites, tattoo flash that your tattooer has paid for, etc) but things that you find on google are NOT NOT not free for the taking. Those images all belong to somebody. If you can’t figure out who the original artist is, ask your tattooer to help you out. A  lot of the time we can find out for you.

lyle tuttle tattooing.

If your tattoo artist has flash on the walls of their shop, or books of images for tattooing, it’s because they paid for the rights to tattoo those images. This means they’re not stolen, they’re totally fine to choose from.

For tattooers, take your photographs so that the tattoo is seen at an angle or so part of it is obscured. Use a strong watermark across the image to make theft more difficult. And rest assured that only assholes steal; your work being stolen is not any detriment to your reputation, but to theirs.

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A real asshole can and will use your tattoo image to make a stencil of sorts:

12348169_10208250532489645_477484541649823711_n
But if the image is at an angle, their finished piece will never look quite right. Symmetry and details will look skewed and wrong. This helps a lot. Try it.

Further advice for tattooers on retaining copyright is available in my seminar.

 

a look back at Gremlins

it’s now time for gremlins.

1. “bring your dog to work day”
2. “threatening to torture an animal, in public, is acceptable if you have a nice coat”
3. “these damn foreign cars”
4. Judge Reinhold.

Beverly_Hills_Cop_III_29937_Medium
5. mom is chopping six hundred onions.

i'm crying because I hate onions.

i’m crying because I hate onions.

6. seriously, you can’t take someone’s dog for breaking your lawn ornament, even when this movie came out that was a bizarre set-up

ruby-deagle-gremlins

seriously, even back then, a nice coat didn’t keep you out of trouble

?7. “I told you, everything is real”

sorry, we're in the wrong suburb

sorry, we’re in the wrong suburb

8. Chinese people are broke too and yet so mysterious and mystical that ‘toothbrush’ is meaningless to them

seriously, motherfucker, we brush our teeth.

seriously, motherfucker, we brush our teeth.

9. sunlight will kill the thing, it’s obviously a fuckin vampire
10. singing the alien hello song from ‘close encounters’ is also a bad sign

gremlins_movie_image_01

IT DOESN’T APPEAR IN MIRRORS EITHER

11.this guy is old enough to drink and have a bank teller job and lives with his parents, never draws and only once is it mentioned that he’s ‘artsy’, but he has unused art supplies in his room.

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motivation.

23992_336294633370_1510191_nI have always had trouble with motivation. I have great ideas, and understand what I ought to be doing at any given time, but actually DOING it is sometimes a struggle. I suppose this comes with the territory of depression, but I hate it. Over the years I’ve tried everything, just about. Here are a couple things that have worked for me.

1.Put on your shoes.

I just- put my shoes on. This means something to my mind, apparently, because once my shoes are on, I start doing things almost right away, I don’t know why this works, but it does. Socks are a half measure and will get me to the kitchen for coffee but no further. Pants will get me from the bed to the couch. But shoes? I’ll end up doing something useful within an hour or so.

2.Close the bathroom door and turn the water on in the sink.

I have had a long hard fight with maintaining hygiene over the years. If I don’t think to myself “I’m gonna brush my teeth” but simply go into the bathroom and lock the door, then turn on the water…somehow I immediately brush my teeth. It’s like the shoes- it just works. I don’t let myself think about it. I just turn on the water as soon as I go in there. I usually have to use the bathroom right away when I wake up, so I turn the water on right when I walk in. I know it wastes a little water to have it run for a minute, but it’s the way that works, and I stick with what works these days.

3. Keep medicine next to the bed.

This works for me because I take my medicine in the morning and at night, not during the day. Except for one medicine, which I just take with me.

4. Don’t bring your laptop or phone to bed with you.

You will HAVE to get up to entertain yourself. Even just to entertain yourself. It’s way too easy to start reading something online and laze around with it.

5. Don’t rush.

I have been waking up at least an hour before I have to get ready, this past year. This gives me time to slowly wake, to get my head together before I have to get out of bed. I can get pants on and socks and get coffee early then relax for a while if I want, but on days when I really need to kind of slowly rise from the depths, it’s a lifesaver.

6. Have your clothes ready and some food ready for the morning.

Since I am at my perkiest right before bed, I grab my clothes for the next day and set them out. I try to also put out the things I need to make food with in the morning too. In fact, the more nighttime-me is considerate of morning-me, the easier mornings become.

As for cleaning the house and stuff, I have no idea. I go long times not wanting to do anything, and then suddenly have a zeal for it and will whirlwind my whole house. Sometimes just one area, sometimes everything over the course of a few days. I am still figuring that one out. Any suggestions?

 

 

(this post was originally drafted, in a much shorter form, on: May 15, 2012)

why that tattoo pain chart is meaningless.

I’m sure most of you have seen this image, or a similar one,  floating around the internet by now:
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I’d like to point out that these images aren’t really telling you the whole story. As I’ve posted about before, several times, placement is only one of many variables that will make a tattoo hurt more or less. I’ll begin here just by saying- your frame of mind, your health, and your general attitude about the tattoo matter more than anything. Tattoos, generally speaking, don’t hurt very much. If you have had waxing done, if you’ve ever broken a bone, if you’ve ever had road rash or a bad cut…you’ve been through worse than a tattoo. You can do this. It’s on the level of…a beesting, a cat scratch, an annoyance.

But let’s take this chart for a minute, at face value- and just talk about areas where tattoos may hurt more or less.

The first thing to think about is your own personal sensitivities. Are you ticklish? Do you have previous injuries (even long-healed ones) in an area? Do feet freak you out? If you have any kind of area-specific thing going on in your mind or body, that’s going to affect how you feel while getting tattooed.

Then, there’s the idea that joints and areas with thin skin will hurt more. This isn’t necessarily the case. A tattoo on the side of the neck seems like it should be the worst thing ever, by these rules. Hell, in the image it’s a red zone! But in the image the center of the neck, the throat, is the red zone too- and those two areas feel very different. See, the only areas where you really have a big cluster of extra nerves are the

  • hands
  • face
  • genitals
  • solar plexus
  • throat
  • nipples

Everywhere else on your body is pretty much the same, as far as the sensitivity of the skin itself. Now some areas also have bone or underlying structures without much padding of muscle or fat. For some people, these areas are EASIER, for others, HARDER to get tattooed. It all depends on what kind of pain you dislike the most. If a deep throbbing or any kind f pressure just slays you, then areas without bony structures are going to hurt more- areas like

  • stomach
  • sides (below the ribs)
  • side of the neck
  • inner arm and armpit
  • inner thigh

if, for you, a stingy sensation is the worst thing, but you don’t mind pressure very much, you’re going to have a hard time with areas that have muscle right under the skin. Areas such as

  • lower back
  • top of shoulder
  • deltoid/front of arm
  • tops of thighs
  • calves
  • buttocks

Now if you don’t mind stingy feelings, and throbbing and pressure are no big deal, but you don’t like the feeling of papercuts or slices or the like, you may dislike bony areas the most. It seems to me that most people feel this way. This means that to at least some degree, the image has a few areas properly labeled for someone like that. The areas that would hurt would be:

  • ankles
  • hands/wrists
  • feet
  • collarbones
  • center of chest
  • shoulderblades
  • spine near center of back
  • ribs
  • kneecaps/elbows

Your body’s size and shape and composition matters too. If you have a lot of fat deposits, your hips may not be such a bad spot. But areas underneath rolls might hurt more, as they’re less exposed to sensation and touch in general. If you’re big and muscular, areas with tightly-stretched skin might hurt more- meaning a calf, one of the places the chart says is EASY, would be more painful to you. If you are scrawny and bony, areas with visible tendons may be the worst.

All of this talk of pain is so variable that you almost can’t pin it down and make any sort of universal chart.

Now let’s talk about where this dumb and inaccurate chart actually came from.

 

Something you can do, though, is make a chart showing areas that are the hardest for the artist to work on. This chart looks almost exactly like that “pain” chart, and versions of it used to be used in shops to show which areas would cost more than others for the same design. I have a sneaking suspicion that some client, at some point, saw this pricing chart and assumed we charged more for “hurty stuff”. This is not the case.

In fact, in some shops, the pricing system was worked out by square inch and placement, not by time. In the Before Times many shops would have all the available designs and flash up on the walls with prices attached. Nearby would be a chart exactly like the “pain” chart, saying, “areas in red cost $20 more, areas in blue $50 more” or something to that effect. This was not done because of how much those areas hurt the client- it was done because those areas are harder for us to tattoo.

acetate with square inches marked off.

acetate with square inches marked off.

So you lay that clear sheet with the inches marked on it, over the tattoo design. Any square containing ANYTHING counts. You have your minimum price, then you add however much per inch. So a shop with a $50 minimum, 20 per inch, a tattoo that is 2″ costs 90 bucks, base price for the easy-to-tattoo zones. Now you go to the chart. You want it on your wrist? Price goes up by ten bucks. You want it on your ribs? Price goes up by thirty bucks. And so on…This is one of the old ways of pricing tattoos, and strangely enough it often works out almost exactly what a tattoo would cost hourly. Those expensive areas just take longer so the time is extended anyway. Also, some areas are risky to us so they cost more.

If I am working on an area that is difficult to reach, my chance of a needle stick goes up. Slippery, sweaty areas are especially scary this way. If I’m working on an area where the skin shifts in response to ANY movement by the client (like ribs and center chest, for example) then I’m going to have to work harder to pull a straight line, to get things even and perfect. This extra work translated to extra pay, based on a chart like this one.

It had and has nothing to do with how you, the client, feel during the tattoo. The original of this color body chart is simply a  pricing guide for tattooers, not anything to do with what you will feel during a tattoo.

 

handy pricing chart used in some older studios.

handy pricing chart used in some older studios.

If I were to make a chart about the actual pain? I’d simply put a blank body form and have people print it out and color it in.
Put red any place where you are sensitive to tickling or have any kind of weird feeling about being touched. Also any place that folds over, where the skin touches itself and is rarely exposed to air or touch.
Put blue on your genitals, hands, and face- AND on any area that has a previous injury, even a healed one.
Put yellow on any place that is often exposed to touch and friction, that has a lot of exposure to air and sun.
Put green everywhere else.

This is your personal, very own pain chart. Everyone will have a different one. Unlike the tattoo artist’s perspective, where all armpits are pretty much the same to work on, the perspective as a client will be totally individual and unique.

Here’s a few stock images you can color in.

fat-slim-woman-white-background-30620793 Posture Template 1woman

 

 

Oh yeah- you’ve probably seen this garbage floating around as well. It’s crap, and it’s demeaning to you guys who are my clients, and I hate this kind of shit. Strangely enough I don’t have too many clients who pay no taxes or go to prison. There’s some slut-shaming in there too. What a load of crap.

tattoo-locations

 

(for a great article about pain and tattooing in general, my friend Deb wrote a great one here)
(for a chart to figure out how much of yourself is tattooed, you can look at matt gone’s awesome post about this here.)

the trouble with white.

in the process of setting up for a white ink tattoo.

in the process of setting up for a white ink tattoo.

White ink on the hands.
Plenty of tattooers won’t even do this. For good reason, too! White ink does not heal white. It heals slightly lighter than the skin tone, and often unevenly. It ends up looking a bit like a pale scar, nearly invisible.

Most tattoo artists who will do tattoos in white-ink-only, will not guarantee it, do a free touchup, after it heals. It’s acknowledged that it will not look right when it heals. There’s a very, very rare person for whom it heals and looks ok- but that person is truly rare. I’ve only ever met one, in 16 years of using white alone in tattoos.

All that said, I will do white-ink-only tattoos. And I’ll even do one free touchup, just like with any other tattoo. BUT, I try to make it really clear that it’ll never heal just right, never look perfect. That it’s going to fade into a pale hint of a tattoo, like a scar. Barely there, and that this is likely to happen unevenly, too.

Here are two matching tattoos, freshly tattooed with white-ink-only.

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Dying is easy, life is hard

if you don’t like spoilers or are too fragile don’t read any further and avoid the comments.

ethel the actress

this dog was not harmed in the making of this death scene

I usually only watch horror films, spiced with the occasional psychological thriller,sci-fi indy film, or action flick. So recently when someone asked me what my favorite death scene was, from a movie, I first piped up with an obvious one from one of my favorite horror movies.

“No,” she said. “I mean for the impact it had on you. Not for the plot to advance.”
I had to think hard. I mean, very hard. There are so many deaths in the movies I watch, you see, and yet most of them are plot devices, not seriously meaningful beyond that. Not the kind of thing that affects me, really. I mean, even when I watch emotional movies, I don’t get very emotional, and I’ve never cried during a movie (books, yes. movies? no.)

So after a few days of deep thought, I’ve made a list. There are a lot of spoilers in it, and if you don’t like spoilers or are too fragile to handle knowing the end of something don’t read any further and avoid the comments. I’m serious, I’ll just delete comments complaining about spoilers. 

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I was going to write something helpful today…

praying mantis shadowbox with teethI had planned to update my old post about lettering for tattoo art (because I’ve learned a lot since then)- but then…

today I looked over what it costs me to keep my websites up ad-free. two hundred bucks a year. It’s a lot, maybe too much. every year it takes a chunk and I always wonder if it’s worth it, that’s money I will only have if my car repair is cheap and I don’t go to the dentist. You know? That’s two months of internet and phone. That’s a doctor-bill payment.

The ads wouldn’t pay me anything, this is a non-commercial site, and I’ll never MAKE money from it. Even if I downgrade and allow the ads- they won’t pay me anything. This site is considered “adult content” so I can’t have any google ad network ads on it- and even if I did, my numbers would pay out maybe five bucks a year. Then there’s the content of those ads the hosting company would run, they’d be for crap I don’t endorse (THANKS GOOGLE YOU JERK) like tattoo schools (SCAM), unlicensed equipment (WTF), etc… and all it would do is lower my cost yearly to around thirty or forty bucks if I let them run them.

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the 6 worst pieces of promotion advice for artists, and the real solutions.

After countless suggestions of sites to use for promotion, I’m starting to realize that several things do not help at all:

1. Selling on more sites, adding more print-on-demand stores, or more marketing profiles.

fff

When you ask most people “how should I promote my art?” you will often get well-meaning people, telling you “you should sell at *printsite*!” or “are you on *marketsy* site yet?” or even “maybe you should sell them on *auctionworld*!”  “Do you have a *deviantshit* profile???” It’s as if they purposely misunderstood your question! “But I already sell on *somesite*!” You protest. “I already have a *americanartprints* profile, do I really need to be on *shirthoarders* too?”
You know, and I know, that you already ARE selling your work on a site like these. There is already at least one site out there with your work on it, for sale, clearly marked prices and all. What you need isn’t TEN MORE OF THOSE, you need PEOPLE TO GO TO THE ONES YOU ALREADY HAVE, and spend their money on your work. Yet asking how to do this never gets that kind of response! This is because most people have one or two sites they have heard of, vaguely, or bought something from once, and so they assume- if you are asking how to promote, it’s because you don’t even know where to list shit.

Most people aren’t trying to sell art. They’re buying it. So yeah- if ten people suggest *randomprintplace*, you should check it out, maybe. Because you already know ten people shop there. But be wary of paying for a bunch of shops or profiles on these sites, because they usually don’t offer much return. (If you DO need to know which sites to sell on, you’re not ready to promote the art yet. concentrate first on listing it, a lot of it, all in one place. I like redbubble for print-on-demand and squareup market for direct sales of originals. )

2. Writing in-depth or posting art directly on social media sites instead of your own.

nooo

I keep my favorites to the left.

Let me guess- you post your work to facebook, twitter, tumblr, instagram, googleplus, wanelo, weheartit, pinterest, linkedin, and maybe even a few dozen other places like this. You’re exhausted. You put off making stuff because you spend way too much time in an endless round of liking and sharing and pinning and chatting with people who never buy a damn thing. Then you get caught up in talking to friends and family, and somehow the day is gone and you actually didn’t do anything you could call “work”. I know. OH TRUST ME I KNOW. Then you go look at your own site, your own blog on your own domain and there’s only like two views. Ghost town. Well, of course it’s a ghost town! You don’t live there, you live in social networks, and you don’t invite anyone there- you talk to them on facebook!

How many people on there do you NOT know? How many people on there BUY things from you that way? I know I get sales to previous clients or friends on these sites sometimes, so it’s tempting to post there a lot, and spend time interacting, and all that…and call that “promotion”. But it’s not, really. It’s not work-related, it’s not promoting, if you do it that way. It’s either time spent with friends hanging out, or you’re just creating content for free so someone else can make money off of your work.
How social sites work, you see, is that people who make things and write stuff, they post these things on that site. That site then slaps ads everywhere and rolls in the dough. If they find out they can charge you to post your work too, they will. They’ll take the ad money YOU and YOUR WORK attracted, and ALSO charge you too. Without your work and your writing and your time spent there, THEY DO NOT MAKE MONEY FROM ADS or datasharing or…or any money AT ALL. YOU ARE PAYING THEM TO GET PAID. There are solutions to this, which will be in the next section (if you click through)

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