livestrong is incorrect! PSA. PLEASE SHARE.

PSA: SHARE!!!

if you have read/are using that site as a source of info about tattoo inks please PLEASE be aware-

THE SOURCE THEY CITE IS COMPLETELY NOT CREDIBLE WITHIN THE TATTOO INDUSTRY.

THE SOURCE THEY USED IS INCORRECT.

THE INKS (BRANDS) THEY LIST ARE REALLY TERRIBLE FOR A VARIETY OF REASONS AND YOU WILL NOT FIND A TALENTED PROFESSIONAL USING THEM.

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they used a fake, crappy online “tattoo school” scam website to get their info. the inks listed include two brands with recalls (!!!!!) and a brand that has really low pigmentation. those brands were listed as “good” only because they’re potentially available to non professional artists!!! Most amateur grade and publicly available inks are made with all sorts of contaminants, and some are dangerous.

The scam school website they used as a reference is NOT a reliable source for information.

THIS IS A BAD SOURCE FOR INFORMATION ABOUT TATTOO INKS.
professional grade tattoo inks are not available to the general public, contain nothing extraneous, and you won’t find out about them through “how-to tattoo dot com” or some crap like that.

tattoo inks available to professionals show no toxicity in ingredients, are not hazardous, and are usually vegan (some brands of black are the exception to that).

if you have questions about ink, ask your tattoo artist. we will always answer questions for you and we have msds sheets as well. (these images are an example, from a brand used by many professionals.)

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(this is from one of several brands often used by professionals)

I’ve seen reference to this website several times now, so I decided it was time to let people know this is NOT CORRECT INFORMATION.

 

Please, please. If you have concerns about the inks, ASK YOUR TATTOO ARTIST. If you do not trust your artist, FIND ONE YOU TRUST. Get tattooed by professionals only!

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.

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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)

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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

you just found the perfect tattoo idea online.

listen to me.

if you see tattoos and artwork online that you really like and would like to have tattooed on you, that’s totally a good thing. the next step is not to copy that thing exactly, but to find a tattoo artist whose work you like, bring them that thing, and say “I want something like this, and I like this piece because (reason you really like that idea)”

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the tattoo artist will tell you they can’t copy it, and will draw you your very own tattoo using your taste and that idea as a starting point. that’s what good tattoo artists do.

it’s OK if you printed it out, traced it, or saved it to your phone for us to look at. don’t panic. it’s OK. just tell us that you found it online and want something like it because (reasons you like it so much). seriously, it’s OK, bring it along and tell us why you like it.

it’s good when you find things you’d love to wear. showing us that stuff helps us figure out what your taste is, what qualities you want in the finished piece. it’s totally fine to want similar ideas to other people’s tattoos. it’s just not OK to try to copy exactly.

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find a good tattoo artist, then talk to them. show them things you like. show them that perfect tattoo and tell them why it’s perfect. they can make it fit YOU.

we get into tattooing because we like to draw. part of our job is to figure out how to draw a thing that fits you and nobody else.

the other part of our job is to be able to reproduce a thing exactly. so if you find tattoo flash, (it’ll be labeled “tattoo flash” and have the artist’s name attached) let us know!

because usually you, or we, can buy the rights to do that. cheaply. plenty of artists draw world that are designed to be sold as tattoos. if we know the source, we can often get permission. you can also ask us what we have drawn- most of us have flash, prepared art, ideas and sketches of things we’d like to do.

 

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keep in mind you don’t HAVE to find exactly what you want. find your tattoo artist first, then show them the things related to the tattoo you want. we can work from stick figures and bad explanations! it’s part of the job.

(also, if you lie and say you drew it, we know you’re lying. although the internet is big, the tattoo industry is small and we all know each other.)

 

 

 

electric eye candy tattoo convention, seminar info

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LINK TO PRE-REGISTER HERE

ONLINE AVAILABILITY OF WRITTEN MATERIALS HERE

On Sunday, September 11, I’ll be teaching my seminar on the use of social media and the internet for passive income, for tattooers. This seminar includes a huge packet of resources and information as well as access to a private group on which you can ask follow up questions, get recent information on changes, and talk and network with anyone else who’s taken the course. Location: Electric Eye Candy Tattoo Extravaganza
you do not have to be working at the convention to come to this seminar.

It’s a two-hour seminar- usually runs a bit longer for questions. I cover “branding”, username and site selection, basics of building a site, consolidating media, passive income streams, how to leverage your client base and word-of-mouth to reach further online, how to protect your copyright, and go over free or cheap tools you can use to share your work.

Even though we all make our daily bread tattooing, we all are also human beings, living inside bodies that can get broken or worn. When you’ve got slow times or an injury or illness, passive income is a good backup, and if done properly it will complement and improve your work on skin.

If you’re using social media at all- to share your tattoo work – or if you would like to start selling your other artwork online to reach a wider audience- this class is for you.

the course does count as continuing education credit for two hours. (I know a lot of you may not need that accreditation, but in some states your license requires this and yes, this seminar counts)

at this convention the seminar will cost $100 per person. tattoo artists at any level AND apprentices, are welcome. if you are an artist in another medium you may attend as well, although a lot of the information may be things you cannot utilize the same way.

to pre-register, email me at resonanteye@gmail.com. I accept paypal and Square. you can also show up on Sunday and pay at the door with cash or credit.

Bring pen or pencil, a piece of art you’ve made (or an image of one) and your smartphone, tablet, or laptop. there will be a wifi hotspot in the room for everyone to use as you follow along with the class.

If you’d like to speak to people who have taken this seminar to find out more, you can ask Curby Dickens, Bonnie Gillson, or Joanne Martian. All three have put a lot of the information to good use.

I can’t wait to meet you guys, I hope we have a good turnout, and good questions asked at the end! xox

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.

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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:

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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.

 

The easiest, best place to get a tattoo.

I know that the real wise advice I could give you would be; “Get it where you want to see it.” Because after all, the pain is temporary, right? The tattoo is what lasts. But I get asked this question a lot, so I’ll give you my honest, true answer.

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actually, inner forearms are cool too. For all the same reasons. They’re just harder to hide when you visit grandma.

Get it on your outside calf, shin, or on the front or outside of the thigh.

These are the easiest areas to get tattooed. They hurt the least, look the best, and last the longest with clarity to the original. Even if you gain and lose weight, these areas won’t change much. Even when you get ancient, the wrinkles on the rest of you won’t really effect these areas so much.

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If you have to hide tattoos for work, high socks or knee-length skirts will cover one or the other of these. The areas are capable of being used in either a very soft, flowing and feminine way, or a blocked, solid masculine manner- so either way, the space can be used how YOU want it to turn out. It can emphasize the curves or obscure them. It can accent muscle or smooth it.

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A design with a strong s-curve looks great in either place.

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The skin structure is good and will be more solid and consistent than ANYWHERE AT ALL ON THE TORSO. Your torso twists, bends, and the skin changes all over it with every pound gained or lost, every gym day or potato chip, every pregnancy, every time you reach for a thing your torso skin gets stretched a tiny bit. Every wrinkle and sag is concentrated on your ribs, waist, and chest. It’s the worst possible area for a tattoo really.

watercolor landscape tattoo

Going back to the start of this whole thing- calves and thighs hurt less than any torso tattoo as well. AND they will last longer. It’s win-win.

sugar skull pinup tattoo

So, if you want my real advice, and not just the thing I am supposed to say, then listen to me and get your calf or thigh tattooed. It’ll look amazing there. Promise. Big or small, get it there.

flower tattoo

 

Small tattoos look great just above the ankle bone, or just below the hipbone on the thigh. Big tattoos look great all over the leg.

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The only “bad” leg areas are the knee, the foot, and the groin. All of these areas have odd skin and won’t last as long or hurt as little as the calf and thigh. Plus the nice, flat areas of the calf and thigh make the design less likely to get distorted with movement, making them a good place for geometric work, or images with faces or human figures in them.

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Get your legs tattooed. It’s awesome.

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so, you want a lot of words in your tattoo.

19505_10152948236462712_9141122821601630296_nTattoos of lettering are classic, of course. There’s nothing wrong with getting words tattooed on you. Sometimes, though, you can overdo it.

(This woman did not overdo it.)

 

For example, let’s say there’s a poem you really like. It’s four lines long. It goes like this:

Brave men who work while others sleep,
Who dare while others fly…
They build a nation’s pillars deep
And lift them to the sky.
(Emerson)

Or, another example:

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
(Frost)

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sometimes you really do want to dedicate a lot of skin to words. that’s ok, too, but only if it’s a flatter area where curving muscle won’t impede the reading of it.

These are lovely sentiments. On skin, however, with the limitations due to cellular changes over time, they wil end up being about ten inches across and six inches tall. That’s a HUGE area dedicated to text alone. Let’s say you want a tattoo of a hammer and some clouds, with that Emerson poem. Or you want some trees and a path, with that Frost quotation. What’s going to happen is the text is going to completely overwhelm the imagery, and dilute it.

Tattooing is a visual medium. The whole point of a symbolic tattoo is to take a concept (words) and use the tattoo (image) to express it. Adding lines and lines of text to an image….it’s a bit redundant. Like getting a tattoo of a bird with the word “BIRD” on it- unnecessary and really odd to look at, in the end.

 

You have choices here, of course.

  • You can opt to get just the lettering, the text itself, alone. Well-done, large-enough text by itself is just fine. It will be bigger than you think, but it can look great. This is a good choice if the writing is from a friend or family member, a case in which the meaning of the words matters less than the exact words themselves. Or if you don’t want any images associated with the meaning on you, at all. In the first tattoo posted above, the client didn’t actually want Peter Pan or anything on her; she simply liked the text itself. Same with the Hobbit poem.
  • You can get just an image that sums up and represents the text. For the Frost poem, a landscape of snowy woods, or a waiting horse next to some trees, would be pretty accurate to the poetry. Done in a bleak color scheme it would represent the sentiment of the poetry really well, too. This is really the best choice if the poem is well-known, or if it’s just the feeling and meaning of the poetry that you love so much.
  • A third option is to narrow down the words you’ll add. For the Emerson poem, you could do a hammer and clouds with the words “Work, Courage” or something similar. Or use only one line of the poem, “Dare while others fly” as part of the design. (In a banner, or similar.) This gives you a bit of the poetry without losing the impact of the imagery as much. “miles to go before I sleep”, done in pale text, below a line of trees…that would be a good solution to using the Frost poem as a tattoo inspiration.
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this poem, in full, would have taken up her entire side, leaving no room for the drawing of a woman representing her mother. (the poem in its entirety is on her mother’s headstone.)

I usually suggest to my wordy clients that they go with the third option- I love poetry and books, and think that a snippet of text in a tattoo can actually add to its impact. It also serves as a reminder to the person of the entire written piece. I usually limit the amount of text to about five words, maximum, if there’s any images being tattooed along with it.

If someone wants a very, very long quotation I will do it- but I usually suggest treating the text block as an abstract shape, making it curve to fit the body area being tattooed. It helps a little, and allows you to get neighboring tattoos later in life without too much fuss. Having a lot of straight lines on a floating block can really limit your future options.

If you want one word or short phrase, though, it’s easy. We can treat the text itself as an image, and make it fit. Simple lettering is really fun, playing with text forms is enjoyable and placement becomes a breeze. You can be selective in your quotation and still carry the meaning of the entire text pretty well.
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can I get tattooed today?

1920333_10152487056127712_6697920045449669580_nThis depends on a lot of factors.

You want a tattoo! And you want a tattoo today, or tomorrow. Is it going to happen? Well, if your tattoo is small, simple, and in an easy area to work on, the chances are good that it will happen.

If your favorite shop or artist takes walk-ins or has empty time that day (hint: they’ll usually post on one of their social media sites if they have a cancellation or free time) then it’s even more likely to happen. If all of these things are true, and you call the shop to ask about getting worked on and the counter staff say “come on in, Joe has a few hours open today” then YES, you’re gonna get a tattoo today.

But do you need an appointment?

Usually, yes. Even on that magical day when all those things come together, there will be some things that make an appointment a good idea.

Let me explain what an appointment is, and what it isn’t.

A tattoo appointment is a set time during which your tattoo artist will be doing nothing but tattooing YOU. They will mark that time as “taken” in their schedule.

You will be the priority and that is the time during which you’ll get tattooed. A tattoo appointment is held with a deposit- some artists will take a deposit over the phone, by credit card, or online by paypal or some other means. Others will want you to come in person to leave a cash deposit. Deposits are usually nonrefundable; they ensure that even if you get hit by a meteor on your way to the appointment, the artist doesn’t lose money by telling other people to go away because they’re going to be busy with you. (deposits normally pay for part of your tattoo cost; part of the total you pay at the end)

Without a deposit, you don’t have an appointment. You probably have a consultation. That’s ok, too.

A consultation is a short meeting with a tattoo artist, which culminates in setting an appointment or getting a tattoo done that day.

Setting up a consultation is a good idea, so that the artist can give you a price estimate and figure out the artwork with you. In our original, awesome, everything-goes-right scenario, you’d likely get a consult – jotted into the schedule in pencil, it would mean one of two things.

  1. You will meet up with the artist for 15-30 minutes and discuss artwork, placement, cost, and all the rest. Then they will set up an appointment to do the tattoo at a later time.
  2. You’re next in line to get tattooed, and can wait until your turn to get tattooed that day.

If you have a consult, your artist will meet with you to discuss the tattoo right at that time, but you may have to wait a while to actually get the tattoo. It may need to be drawn differently, or they may need time to figure out technical details to apply it. Someone may have gotten their tattoo started before you arrived, and the artist will finish with them before it’s your turn.

If you’re on a tight schedule, make an appointment, not a consult. If you aren’t sure whether the artist can draw the tattoo on the spot, if it’s a bigger piece or in an odd place (ribs, hands, etc), if it has complicated elements or meanings, or if you know you might have to come back another day, make a consult and bring along your calendar and ideas so you can plan your future appointment. Hope for the best (getting tattooed today!), prepare for the worst (waiting until another day to get the tattoo done).

Here is what I am left with after I have a consultation with someone:

I'll mark placement on a copy of this so I know where it'll be

I’ll mark placement on a copy of this so I know where it’ll be

A rough doodle I made of the art while we were talking. (actually this is a painting by Cy Twombly, but its what all my preliminary sketches tend to look like)

A rough doodle I made of the art while we were talking.
(actually this is a painting by Cy Twombly, but its what all my preliminary sketches tend to look like)

a brilliant idea for what the finished tattoo will look like. (this is Buckminster Fuller, though)

a brilliant idea for what the finished tattoo will look like.
(this is Buckminster Fuller, though)

a bunch of notes in my terrible handwriting that seem to have nothing to do with the tattoo but actually are notes about your tastes, aesthetic, ideas, hopes, dreams, and how awesome your glasses were

a bunch of notes in my terrible handwriting that seem to have nothing to do with the tattoo but actually are notes about your tastes, aesthetic, ideas, hopes, dreams, and how awesome your glasses were, including a deadline by which I want to get the art finished.

lots of coffee, and time

lots of coffee, and time

a sketch finished after the coffee and time

a sketch finished after the coffee and time

resonanteye geometric mandala back tattoo in progress

finally the appointment day arrives and it begins.

Now, let’s talk about just walking in.

A walk-in is simply going to the shop, getting in line, and waiting your turn to get your tattoo that day.

Some shops and artists encourage this and others don’t like it. Best way to find out if it’s going to work? Just call the shop and ask- “do you take walk-ins?” or “does anyone have time for a walk-in today?” They will let you know. If your art is something that needs lots of drawing time,or if a bunch of other people show up at the shop before you, they may not be able to tattoo it that day. They may not have time. BUT! If your tattoo is pretty simple, or if it’s the kind of thing that particular artist likes to draw and can draw easily, then yes you will be able to walk in and wait your turn and get a tattoo, all in one day.

 

Here are some examples of things that I have done as walk-ins:
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You’ll notice that some are very simple, and some are more complex. The complex stuff? It’s all stuff I like to draw, and can draw very quickly and easily right then and there. If you wanted something I wasn’t proficient with, I’d have to make a date for later and really take time with the drawing. Some of these, I had drawn beforehand- in my sketchbook- and people walked in and chose them from my drawings, or asked for something similar and I could use that drawing to work from. So it really depends on the artist, your flexibility, and other factors.

Personally, I always leave free time on the weekends to take walk-ins. I love spontaneity, and I have a big collection of drawings of “stuff I wanna tattoo on people” for folks to look at and pick from. I also like to draw some subjects so much, that drawing  then tattooing them is easy for me (flowers, trees, plants). Usually my walk-in days get filled up by about halfway through, so anyone who runs in to the shop late hoping for time is SOL, though.

Now, I know that a lot of people think things are small and simple- and they’re not. I mean to you it may seem a simple design, but to us it may be a nightmare. There’s reasons for this- difficult placement, redrawing time, drawing time, planning out geometry or something. I can’t go into it too much because there are a million and one reasons why what seems a simple tattoo may in fact be a complex one to actually apply. In a lot of cases, people walk in wanting a thing that looks simple on paper, but then have to make an appointment to get it done later just so I have time to figure out that translation work and prepare the art correctly. Here are a few like that:

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DSC_0064megaman tattoo

 

they may look simple enough, but they took planning and redrawing to get right.
So to sum up:
  • Yes, some people take walk-ins. Call the shop and ask. Be prepared to wait in line for your turn.
  • Yes, consults are a good thing. You might get tattooed that day,or you might have to make an appointment. Nothing is guaranteed. You don’t need a deposit to talk to an artist and the consultation itself costs nothing.
  • Yes, appointments are the only way to be sure you will get tattooed at a specific time and day. Many times you’ll need to make one anyway, just because the artist needs to work on the concept to make it right. You’ll always leave a deposit to hold an appointment.

Good luck, and don’t be afraid to email or call the shop or the artist to find out how they handle each of these things. We have counter staff to handle that- we pay them to be nice to you and find a way for you to get tattooed. I like emails a lot, and I do a lot of online consultations too- some artists don’t, this is purely a matter of personal taste. If you have an artist who is responsive about emails, you can always email directly. Don’t be shy, though. We want you to get tattooed, today, or as soon as possible, because we love tattooing you.

bonus: a few tattoos that took consults AND appointments to get done.

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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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somewhere there's a feather

Warning to people using this as an informational resource: I am not a lawyer. I curse a lot. Follow the links in the text to find official sources and research, rather than relying on my say-so.
he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he's a flycatcher.

he flew into my house through an open window, I caught him and let him go. he’s a flycatcher. I didn’t keep any pieces of him, except the poops he left behind on my counter.

There’s this law, see. Every time I bring it up, people get salty about it. Hell, sometimes I get salty about it when people bring it up. But I’m bringing it up anyway.

The Migratory Bird Treaty Act makes it illegal for anyone to take, possess, import, export, transport, sell, purchase, barter, or offer for sale, purchase, or barter, any migratory bird, or the parts, nests, or eggs of such a bird except under the terms of a valid permit issued pursuant to Federal regulations.

The MBTA does not apply to: (1) Nonnative species introduced into the United States or its territories by means of intentional or unintentional human assistance…, or nonnative, human-introduced species that belong to families or groups not covered by the Canadian, Mexican, or Russian Conventions.

(If you have found a feather, there are resources at the very end of this post to help you figure out what bird it’s from, and if you can keep it or not. Click ‘read more’ then scroll down.)

song thrush

seriously, these guys kept coming in. that place had big windows, they really liked shitting all over my house and refusing to fly back out. this is a female, maybe the special friend of the other bird. she also left some potentially-illegal feces behind.

Definitely-legal feathers come from European Starlings, House Sparrows, Rock Pigeons, Eurasian Collared Doves, AND basically any bird you are legally allowed to hunt (meaning, YOU have a hunting license for it) or farm/have as a pet legally- these game and domestic birds include non-native parrots, wild turkey, pheasant, some geese, peacocks, some grouse, domestic chickens, domestic ducks, domestic geese, domestic quail, and domestic turkey.

(side note: all the feathers used in my work are from legal species and sources; I paint and stain legal feathers to resemble rare/illegal ones, and you can too, and if you do I will keep liking you and your art)

There’s a damn good reason for these laws. I know that you’re thinking, “but I’m not out harvesting cormorants, smashing baby sparrows, and yanking the tails of owls! I found it on the ground, how could it possibly harm anyone for me to just have it in my own house?”

fox skull mount

chicken feathers behind a fox skull. these look rad and they’re legal and easy to obtain.

It’s harmful because people actually do kill these birds to get their feathers, and they can and do say the same fucking thing when they get caught. In order to keep poachers from saying they “found” feathers that they actually killed to get, the law simply won’t allow anyone to have them at all. This includes you, and me, and includes ‘private collections’ and ‘I won’t sell it I just want it for my shrine’. I won’t even get started on people who are selling protected birds’ feathers (online or off) because it makes me too frothy and I want this article to make sense.It used to be that poachers could claim they had ‘found feathers’, and didn’t actually kill the birds. This law ensures that this doesn’t happen. There are exceptions and loopholes, of course, but you’ll need paperwork to fit into them.

I understand that it feels like the Fun Police have arrived when someone brings up the fact that you’re endangering birds by keeping those crow feathers in your hat. Hell, I know that before I got super involved in this kind of art I pretty much felt the same way. It wasn’t until I did a lot more reading and a lot more thinking that I really got it. I don’t mean to prevent you from making cool stuff. I truly understand, and I also dislike the arrival of the Fun Police in general. But.

BUT. But there’s this law, see. And if you’re breaking it, you’re not being an Ethical Shaman-type Person. So if you wish to represent yourself as a Magical Unicorn Dancer of Good Intentions and The Like, read on. (Evil Bastards of Doom, feel free to skip ahead to the “crow” or “canada goose” sections, or just go squash a european starling.)

 

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