Aside from the shop’s clean presentation and the range of skills found in the artists it houses, it is the atmosphere that draws in an almost constant stream of customers.
“I think you need to be comfortable,” tattoo artist Teika Hudson said, adding that she prefers the parlour setting and the capacity for friendly conversation.
The past few years have seen a resurgence of body art and one can guess that half the people situated around you are harbouring tattoos.
Once stigmatized as only belonging on the bulging biceps of biker gangs, trends are shifting to find all types of people adorning themselves with visible ink.
Sarah Bolding, a second-year anthropology student at Mount Royal, is decorated with a Super Mario tattoo that covers her upper arm.
This tattoo, along with her many others, — including a work-in-progress pirate ship back-piece — are ways that Bolding said she expresses her appreciation for art.
“I just love the idea of permanent artwork on your body,” she explained. “It’s kind of like a story of my life.”
Having acquired her first tattoo at the early age of 12, Bolding has been inspired by the ability to change her appearance forever.
“People are always looking for a way to feel better about themselves,” added Hudson, who feels tattoos are a confidence-booster.
With tattoo culture becoming more socially acceptable — largely thanks to TV shows like Miami Ink, which have helped to uncover the amount of art involved — it’s no wonder that tattoos are becoming increasingly trendy.
“I wish it were more about the artwork and appreciating individuality,” Bolding said.
According to Steve Peace of Immaculate Concept tattoo studio in Calgary, that’s exactly where the trend is headed.
In his 20 years of experience, he has noticed that people are asking for bigger tattoos that are more customized and require more art than those just “picked off of the wall.”
“It’s nice to see people really look into their tattoos a bit more,” Hudson agreed.
For those of you planning your first trip into a tattoo studio, Peace emphasized the importance of researching your tattoo artist. He noted that because of tattoo culture being swept into the mainstream, there are twice as many tattoo shops around.
“Make sure you meet the artist and really look through their portfolios and understand their style,” Hudson said.
Peace added that you choose an artist for their style, so you shouldn’t try to change it.
He explained that his style is more focused on realistic tattoos, in particular pin-ups. This is similar to Hudson’s style, except that she mentioned that she takes a more comic-book approach to these traditional tattoo ideas.
Bolding has noticed traditional-style tattoos making a comeback. She mentioned the traditional style of tattoo artist Sailor Jerry is really inspiring people, “and of course video game tattoos.”
As a body art veteran, Bolding admits that the pain doesn’t get any better as you get more tattoos, but she said that, “you learn how to breathe; you know you’re going to get through it.”
Bolding offered up a few tips for people about to give up their tattoo v-card: “get a great sleep the night before, eat a big breakfast, and bring juice and stuff with you.”
Although body art is becoming more prevalent, the amount of opposition is definitely not lacking.
“It’s really sad that we are still living in a society where not everything can be accepted and not every person can be accepted,” Bolding said. “I think it’s detrimental to our world.”
Aside from the typical arguments against tattoos, such as their impact on finding employment, Bolding explained that the craziest thing someone has asked her about her skin décor was, “why I ruined God’s creation with Satan’s ink?”
Despite these kinds of judgments, it seems the number of people getting inked is on the rise, but be wary of some of the worst trends in tattoos.
Peace explained that armband tattoos just don’t fit the body right, and that tribal art has become pretty passé.
Hudson recalls the worst tattoo that she ever administered.
“[I did a] Saskatchewan Rough Riders logo on this dude’s butt one time. It’s not that it turned out bad, it’s just that afterwards I was like ‘Oh God, did I really do that?’” she shared. “I asked him why he wanted it and he wanted to show it on the JumboTron.”
When it comes to the permanent nature of tattoos, one can’t help but emphasize the importance of research and seriously considering your art.
“You should really appreciate what you are getting and research your artists,” Hudson said. “The biggest mistake people make is rushing.”
As for Bolding, she offered words of wisdom about body art when she said “do it for yourself, don’t get a tattoo to be cool.”