On memorial tattoos.

When you’ve lost someone close to you, tattooing is often a tool you can use in your grieving process. I do many memorial tattoos and I know from my own personal experience of getting them, that it can be really emotional.

The best thing to do, first of all, is to contact the artist and set up a consultation. Every artist is different, and what I do may not be what all artists do. So check in first, before assuming anything. That said, I deal with memorial tattoos by taking my cues from you. some people are light hearted, remembering good things. others are in mourning and need to cope with that. I’m not a therapist, just a person, so here is my take on memorials and how I set things up for you if you want one.

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You might want your own soundtrack. This is fine- the shop doesn’t need to change their music for this to happen. The shop music is for the people working in the shop and we don’t change it- however I’m more than happy to work on you while you listen to your own calming music or meditation tracks on good headphones. If you don’t have good noise reduction headphones, let me know- I have over-the-ear ones that are amazing, and will keep out the hustle and bustle of the shop for you, so you feel safer. I’ll let you borrow them.

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I’ll put up a screen if you’d like to have more privacy. Crying and feeling emotional are common things when we get memorial tattoos so please don’t feel worried if you need a moment to let it out, or if you get overwhelmed during the tattoo.

We can take breaks as needed. I usually charge for a break, if it’s one you need and not one I need- but in this case I stop the clock. i don’t charge for that time. It can take some minutes to calm down, to refocus. I respect that need and I want the tattoo to come out perfectly, so a little break for you to cry or breathe it out is OK. It’s not unusual and I’m not thinking poorly of you. There’s no need to get embarrassed about it. Everyone on earth loses things and people they love, and I have been through it too.

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Bringing along comforting objects like books, photos or a pillow can help, especially if you have sensory issues. A familiar (clean) blanket and pillow are always ok. A photo for you to look at, a book, or videos through headphones. this can also help you remember the good times, and make your tattoo a celebration of the person’s life instead of just a sad moment thinking about the loss.

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You’re welcome to bring a friend or loved one who is sharing in your grief, so that you can have someone to talk to, who really understands. I highly recommend this. Bringing someone along who also knew the person, or who is very supportive of you in your life, can really help. it’s difficult for me to both commiserate with you AND do the tattoo perfectly, so having that friend along to hold hands, tell stories, or just vent to, will help you get through things and still walk away with a good tattoo.

case in point.

images are always good, not just words.

I do a lot of lettering, dates of birth and death, names, as memorials. This is very classic and totally ok. It’s just fine to do a memorial that’s simple and understated. I also do a lot of meaningful images related to the person who died. If there was an in joke between you, a pet name, or something you both loved, using an image of that as your memorial is a great idea and a really good way to remember the person going forward- as someone who had a positive impact on your life in an active way.

think of your loved one as a star. what were their greatest hits? what was their joy in life? did they create something wonderful, do something valuable? these are all good ways to think of images to memorialize them, rather than just letters.

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I’ve also done tattoos that include cremains. This involves several steps- you’ll have to sift the ashes to get the lightest, finest ash. I’ll only need a tiny bit (the ink cup I use to pour out your ink into is very tiny, think a few drops) so a little sprinkling on top of that tiny cup is what we will use. You’ll need to bring them in the day before your appointment, so I can sterilize them for use and let them dry out. Then we will dust a small bit of them on top of the black ink we will be using. Cremains in tattoos is a debatable issue and a lot of tattoo artists will refuse to do this, and the do have good reasons. you may lose spots of ink during healing, since the ash has larger particles than the ink. However by sterilizing them ahead of time, we avoid any possible bacterial contamination of them and any other risks.

If your tattoo is a memorial don’t be shy about telling me or asking about these things. I’ve got memorial tattoos. I cried during a few of them. I wore headphones, hugged someone’s t shirt that smelled like them, I took breaks and I felt miserable. The process itself, though, seemed to help me work through my more awful feelings- and having someone there to discuss the good times with, seemed to help me the most.

one of my own memorial tattoos, on me.

a memorial tattoo on me.

 

we all grieve differently. if you’re getting a memorial tattoo, we should have a consult before your appointment, just to be sure we get everything settled for you, so you can use the process instead of feeling worse. Again, my concern is to do a good tattoo on you, that will give you positive feelings as you wear it over the years.

I’m not a therapist and I can’t help with the grieving process on that level. all I can do is give you a hug, and schedule you at the end of my day so I’m not bringing the weight of that loss in to my next appointment.

Seminar: Passive income and social media use for tattoo artists

13912592_10153856265657712_6602799035210498873_nSeminar: Passive income and social media use for tattooers.

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.

If you see the internet ad social media as a chore, hate pinterest, and fear theft- this class is for you.

Learn to use social media properly — without compromising your copyright.

This class relates to the sale of secondary mediums beyond tattooing, and will go over the relationship between your existing client base and the collectors who will buy your work on paper rather than skin.

We’ll cover print-on-demand services, pros and cons of social media use, networking as a strategy to find collectors, consolidating your media management, and getting more reach with your work online.

Seminar text and cheatsheet handout packet, aftercare instructions, and legal consent form templates included.

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

taking the day or three off for solstice, getting brushes and stuff ready for being idle

if I’m working every day, all I do is wipe down my brushes with regular turpentine and maybe plain veg oil at the end of the night and forget about it. If you’re using oil brushes every day, they don’t have a chance to dry out.

Since I’m taking a few days off for Solstice, I need to actually clean my brushes!

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there are good and fancy soaps for this. I just use oil-breaker dish detergent. this is a generic brand, but blue dawn works pretty well.

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again, there’s fancy and better suited soaps for this, but I use the cheapest bar soap for ‘oily skin’. I use the dish soap to get most paint and solvent off, then use this to really scrub all the way up to the base where the bristles attach. then I rinse it all out.

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I scrub pretty well. I don’t do this often so I try to get way up into it.

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I really dry the water out, squeeze em in a paper towel. I want them dry now.

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plain,cheap vegetable oil. I dip them into it.

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Then I wipe almost all of it off the brush. I leave them just greasy enough to hold their shape. If you use natural bristles you can use conditioner for this (like you’d use on your hair) but if you’re broke or cheap, this works fine.

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before I paint again I’ll use turp to wipe all that oil out of the brushes so it doesn’t end up in the painting. here’s all my stuff tucked in neatly out of the way.

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little bonus , thumbnails of things I’m planning to work on soon.

materials post two, and a finished seascape in oils (or two)

Some of the materials I use are weird. Other are pretty common. I use odorless turpentine. The cheap stuff. I use old paints because I was given a huge box of many tubes of the basic colors in oil when a friend’s aunt died (she had been a painter of still lifes) so my paint choices are the odd thing.

I use a lot of yellow ochre, real madder. Payne’s grey, Naples yellow, prussian blue and lead white. I have some french ultramarine and viridian in there, but I use them less often. I have raw umber, burnt sienna, cad red, vermilion, and lamp and ivory black too.

I don’t have any burnt umber except for in miscible oils- I have a handful of those, burnt sienna, cadmium yellow, burnt umber, ultramarine, titanium white and lamp black. Not too many tubes of that stuff. I got those to do my giant animal painting project and I’m not sure what else I’ll use them for. I like the oily oils a little better, but these mix in just the same.

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Water-miscible oils- I have there some brushes (oil brushes), a cup of water, some liquin, and the paints. I started out using water and paint for the underpainting, which dried pretty fast, overnight. Then started in with paint and liquin, then on to fat paint on its own.

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Here’s another painting in the miscible oils. All I had out was the brushes, palette, liquin, and water cup. Almost as simple as working in watercolor.

I like really soft fat brushes. I only have maybe one or two hog bristle brushes even though I know most oil painters like them. I have one big one and one little one for oils. The rest of my brushes are synthetic, pretty much- mostly filberts and a few chisels. I have a big flat short-bristle brush I use to blend, it’s squirrel instead of sable but it’s soft enough to work well. I do have maybe two small sable brushes and a super silky rigger brush.

I’m sure if I was trained and taught by someone academic I’d know more about all this and make different choices.

I don’t have a lot of money for brushes so that’s about it for that. I try to take care of them but I am extremely bad at maintenance and remembering to clean them- I usually soak them up in turp and clean them every day when I’m done, and if I won’t paint for a day or more I wash them out as well as I can with detergent soap. Sometimes I forget and there’s a casualty. I get a new brush once or twice a year. I used to paint in oils almost only, but for a few years now I’ve worked in watercolor too so I switch back and forth every few months. (I rarely, if ever, use acrylics for anything)

Right now I have liquin and some old old copal as mediums. Liquin is good, it dries fast enough that I can work over an area within a few days, or the next day if I get aggressive with it (like in an underpainting) and the copal I think looks good as a top surface or glaze. I really wish I had more glazes and varnishes though, I’d love to try a few new things for that. I have had stand oil, and used it, I think I have a tiny bit left. It takes a while to dry out completely but it looks really cool and glossy if I’m doing a painting without much texture.

12391419_10153347790822712_110052715696411257_nOnce I have that first layer in I let things dry a little. Then I use more pigment, less media (turp or liquin) and lay in color. This bigger seascape, you’re seeing layer two. Basic color areas.

Here you can see the kinds of brushes I’m using on the bigger painting. One is a large, super super soft brush that I’m using to soften up all of the stuff I don’t want emphasized. I really only want the center area where the one wave breaks to be important, so I go through and soften the other areas once they are a little bit tacky. You can see I’ve added a lot of detail areas above that second wave there, little bits of grey and of the cad red that’s in the sky.

IMG_20151213_054346Here is the little seascape that I made as a warmup, it’s done I think. I even signed it.

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I have had insomnia for about a week so most of my work has been happening at night. After a while my sleep schedule will head back on around the clock though, I’m sure.

I will probably do a materials list for watercolor or pen and ink wash stuff next monday. xox

 

Here is the finished foggy dawn Lincoln City landscape (click image for bigger image and prints)

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I’m putting this one in a silvered wooden frame.

 

And here is the finished larger painting of the cliff south of yachats, in a nice antique oiled wood frame. I’ll scan it for prints when it is completely dry and right before I varnish it. I don’t know when the originals will be for sale, as I need to amass a handful for a gallery show this year.

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materials post: oils, article in Brut Force

 

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I wanted to show you what I use with my oils. in this photo you can see at the top left an expandable wash bucket. I use detergent in the water, this is for any washing I have to do with my brushes, but I usually don’t. if you paint every day and rinse the brushes with turp when you’re done they stay soft.

in front of that you can see a good example of modernization. in the left is a bottle of “copal”. this new product is not copal, which is made from amber/pine resin, instead it’s some citric junk. next to itf you can see a corked bottle of real copal, which I’ve got a jug of hidden away from many years ago and dole out to myself in small quantities. I’ve been using this small jar for about a year.

in front of that is a sealable jar I use for turp. I get the odorless but it still stinks. I use this while I’m working to wipe paint off the brushes. nothing else.

on the right
you can see my paints. they’re antique, I inherited them. the cadmium paints I use aren’t hues (substitution colors) but real cad reds and yellows. it’s poisonous so I can’t eat a sandwich while I work. I’ve got a smallish tube of real rose madder which I hoard. this and the ultramarine are also very old. I think maybe 40s-60s era based on what I was told. they’re heavy pigments, really rich compared to the newer brands I tried. I use lead white from the same batch as well, I’ve got a lot of that. more poison!

the brushes- that big one is hog bristle. the next biggest is synthetic sable and very soft, I use it to blend. there’s a stippler there I use for scrubbing color into or off of the canvas. a few filbert and bright firm synthetics, small chisels, and then a really nice long real sable rigger.

I use a mayo tray as a palette, I’ve bought a few over the years for tattooing but this one got dented while I was traveling so it’s a palette now. I cover it with clingwrap at the end of the day so my paint stays soft.

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Here you can see everything set up for working. I use a mayo tray that unfortunately got dented as a palette. I’m working on two paintings, more about those in a minute. you can see I use a lot of paper towels too as well as a rough old rag. The not-paint-water mug makes its usual appearance, though when I work in oil it just holds the brushes. I don’t trust my brain. There is a bottle of Bob Ross gesso in this photograph. It is empty, I like having it there though. It reminds me not to eat paint.

 

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This is an underpainting, I don’t do them every time but this time I did. I then screwed up the painting beyond repair with some bad composition choices so it’s going to get scrubbed and I’ll reuse the canvas for another thing.

Here is a terrible blurry photo of the little seascape, which I think will turn out just fine.

This is a thin first layer just to lay in shape and tone. It’ll get a second layer, some detail and smoothing, and a glaze.

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I don’t use a lot of medium, I have liquin if I’m impatient and a stand oil too just in case but mostly I work fat, just paint, and heavy and thick. it takes a long time to dry but I like the look. the copal is my glaze at the end.

I use liquin early on, I like the early layers to dry fast. I keep two or three pieces going at once in oil, so something is always ready to be worked on. Going back and forth from watercolor is like stepping onto the ground from a carousel, though. Takes me a minute to get my sea legs back.

 

You have seen my watercolor setup, which is a lot simpler.

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I trust myself more when it’s water and not turp in the mug. All these things have been put away for a few weeks so I can work with oil for a bit. Then the oils will get packed into the box and these things will come back out. I used to have a few dining room tables, each with a different medium set up on it, so I didn’t have to pack things away like this. Right now my space is very limited so it’s one thing at a time. We are supposed to be putting in a shed studio though, so maybe that will change.

 

 

I also want to mention the fantastic magazine Brut Force, which recently interviewed me. The whole magazine is great and I feel a little out of my depth being in there among so many beautiful creative artists and their work. You can read about that here. I usually do not use the telephone but the interviewer had a good bedside manner and he got me through it with aplomb.

 

As a last thought, I’m planning to start scheduling posts by topic; I think mondays will be tech/materials day, tues will be tattoo advice or informaion, weds will be process shots, thrs or fri will be tattoo or other photos.

Video seminar is live!


This streaming video contains about 2/3 of the information I present in my seminar. You can stream it as much as you like, pause and play, rewind, and take notes all you want.
If you’ve taken my seminar in person, email me to get the free version of this. If you stream this and wish to take my seminar in person, email me and you will get a discount when you attend!

All feedback is welcome. I hope this information helps you- it’s hard-won.

 

Process photos of recent paintings!

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Seminar at Portland Tattoo Expo, sunday Oct 11!

EPSON MFP imageI’ll be teaching a seminar at the PDX expo in October!

Click through here for more info and to sign up. Bring notepad, pen/pencil, phone or tablet, and questions when you show up for the class. Counts for two hours of continuing education!

Leveraging Social Media to Sell Art Online, for Tattooers

Learn to use social media properly — without compromising your copyright. We’ll cover print-on-demand services, pros and cons of social media use, networking as a strategy to find collectors, consolidating your media management, and getting more reach with your work online.

This class relates to the sale of secondary mediums beyond tattooing, and will go over the relationship between your existing client base and the collectors who will buy your work on paper rather than skin.

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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