Archive for August, 2010

Here’s a scary thought for you

Posted by on Friday, 20 August, 2010

… I expect to not only get OUT during my vacation, but to write as well. And not just measly little blog posts, but real, substantive stuff. Some of which will likely be posted, some probably not, but all in all I expect to see a sharp upswing in posts here either during my week off, or within the week after my return depending on access, etc.

Last night Jean and I met up with Kerri at one of our new favourite downtown finds: Veritable Quandary. We had an outstanding dinner, as expected, and found ourselves engaged in deep conversation for the majority of the evening. It turned into a very relaxing and enjoyable three hour dinner and drinks. During this time we covered a gamut of topics, one of which speaks to my plan for next week….  writing.

I know I have at least one story to tell, but I need time and energy to focus. Time and energy I never have during the work week, and the weekends I’d rather be recovering than ‘working’ on a book/short/story/blog/whatever. I expect next week to find that energy and time and dig in deep with as much as I can to put down as many words to (virtual) paper as possible. What comes of it, is again, anyone’s guess. Which story comes out is also a bit up in the air, though I more distinct ideas about that. In any case, expect me to be fairly silent and then inundate you with posts.

As for my trip…. well, I may even enable Facebook places for the week. Who knows, stranger things have happened 😉

The clock keeps ticking

Posted by on Thursday, 19 August, 2010

… and I still don’t know what I am doing next week. Starting to feel under the gun to decide now. Realizing that being social is likely not something that I can control at this point, but rather just something that will come from getting on my bike and looking for an adventure.

I’ll be honest, the prospect of a multi-day ride scares me. My sense of safety is really challenged when thinking about riding without a partner or at least a known entity at the end of the day. Solo rides are inherently more dangerous for a multitude of reasons, but the main one being for the mere fact that you are alone. I won’t dwell on that any more than what needed to be said.

So, as of now, who knows where I’ll end up…. and who knows how I’ll get there. All I know is that over the next week I will meet more people face to face than i have over the past 3 years. I may have to leave the state to do that or I may not leave any further than day-long round trips in state. Who knows. The important part here, after all, is just to get OUT. And out, my friends, is exactly what I intend to get.

On finding a tattoo artist; the annotated edition.

Posted by on Monday, 9 August, 2010

One in a possible series; The following presumes you already have an idea of what you want, and can verbalize it with some decent level of clarity. An example drawing is even better, as artists love visual aids 😉  Rather, what I intend to impart upon you here is how to take that next step from deciding you want a tattoo, and have an idea for a design, into the space of actually seeking out someone to ink it for you…

First and foremost: talk to your friends who have tattoos you like. Ask where they got theirs, and who did them. More often than not they will have recommendations for you. And really, recommendations are worth their weight in gold. (My recommendation: Wendi Ramirez, who is now in Austin, Tx. as owner of Dovetail Tattoo… or Eli Falconette at Blacklist Tattoo, Portland, Or.)

Like anything you commit a large sum of money or any permanence to, you will want to do your research. is a great single resource for a lot of articles on (and photos of) tattoos, as well as key tips for sanitation and what to look for in a shop on their Tattoo FAQ wiki:
Doing your research now will pay off in the long run and help you understand what to look for in an artist and a shop.

Failing any local friends/artists, start on the internet and do some searches for prevalent and established shops within your comfortable travel distance. Check out the online portfolios of some of the local artists and make a list of a few whose art you like. In general, I’d recommend finding someone who has some portfolio pieces of the quality you want in the style you are also looking for.  (As an aside I don’t take my own advice here, typically I look for quality of work over the actual content. I chose one of my favourite artists based on a particular piece, a blackwork leafless tree, because the skill to do that work would translate well to the piece I wanted her to do for me. I didn’t want the same content, I wanted someone who could provide the same quality, and her portfolio proved to me she had the chops, even though nothing resembled the style I wanted.) If the artist does high quality American traditional work, well, bets are that they will provide you with the same high quality work if you want that same style; asking someone to go outside their normal artistic style may not prove to be as fruitful.

Before doing anything at this point, do not expect to get a tattoo the day you walk into the shop. Expect to schedule an appointment for a later date with the artist you choose. While most shops do handle walkins, you will likely get whichever artist is available, not necessarily the one you choose. And you want to choose! Be prepared to schedule as far as a month or two out, or as quickly as later that week, or next week.

Once you have found a few shops and artists you’d like to visit, do just that: go to the shops. Literally shop around. Take a look at as many shops as you can stand, and thumb through all the portfolios each shop has on their artists. If the artist is around and available to talk, speak with them. Tell them what you are looking for, where you want it, how big, and keep an open mind if they have ideas to change the piece a bit to make it work better. While you are talking with them, tune in to how they treat you, and what questions they are asking… and be sure to ask some good questions yourself to get a sense of their craft and the shop they work in. Following are some of my initial questions I find useful:

  • How long have they been tattooing
  • how long have they been at this particular shop
  • do they autoclave their tools
  • do they wear latex gloves
  • what style do they prefer (celtic, american traditional, japanese traditional, new school/oldschool, realism, portrait, custom, etc.)
  • do they primarily work from flash or do they do mainly custom pieces (flash is the pre-drawn stuff you find littering the walls at most shops)
  • If you don’t have a final drawn piece, are they willing to work with you to draw something up

There are really no wrong answers to the above (aside from the obvious medical safety items like autoclaving and glove usage, etc.), but rather these types of questions are intended to give you a starting point for a better idea about the artist’s skills and establish a comfort level with the artist; to stimulate the discussion, if you will, so you can feel your way around the artist and make sure you are comfortable with them. The more shops you visit and artists you talk to, the more likely you will find the artist who is right for you.

Now, while you CAN and should ask about pricing, I’d highly recommend not making that your first or main question, as when it comes to tattooing the primary focus should be in finding the right artist first, not necessarily the lowest price. After all, this will be something you carry with you the rest of your life, do you really want the task of inking it to go to the lowest bidder?
When it comes to pricing, from my experience, most artists worth anything charge around $85 to $150 / hour for their work on custom pieces. Of course some may be more, or some less costly; it is up to you to decide where the balance is in terms of quality/comfort/and cost for you. Some may quote you a set price per piece depending on the size and amount of work involved. So be prepared to deal in hourly rate or price per piece. Some pieces may take more than one sitting, so be prepared for that as well, and know how your artist will charge for multiple sittings etc. Being clear up front will help avoid misunderstandings later.

I’ll leave you with this: Taking the time to research before you commit to getting inked will help ensure your happiness after you get your first tattoo… and your second… and your third…  and so on.