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The Guy in Sunglasses Will Surely Pass Out.

And other pearls of wisdom from the tattoo shop.

by AdamSkyArtist

January 1, 2007

After 10 years of walking the planks of the tattoo shop, I've learned a thing or two about human nature. Although I never graduated high school, I'll tell you I've gleaned many valuable life lessons from the back side of the tattoo machine.

Girlfriend's names are tattooed on as an act of desperation. The same goes for boyfriend's names, too. As a last grasp at the threads of an unraveling relationship, some folks will attempt to prove their devotion to an uninterested significant other by engraving that person's name in their flesh. Rarely are couples seen in the tattoo shop professing their love under the needle when the relationship is in the fit of health.

Many tattooers won't put a name on someone's skin unless that name belongs to blood family like a child or parent or if there's a bond of marriage. Personally, I'm a tattooer, not a relationship counselor, so I'll tattoo any name you want. But I'll tattoo that name as big and as bold as you'll let me. I know that I'll be making even more money on the cover up in only a few short months.

The tattoo shop can be an intimidating environment to the uninitiated. It's an alien place filled with mystique and shifty characters ready to put a hurting on you if you've got the money. So it's always interesting from a tattooist's perspective to see how customers handle that fear; the fear of pain and the fear of permanence. People's insecurities come out the strongest when they're afraid. Usually women are better at confronting their fear because women are better equipped to express their emotions. Men bottle up. They don't want anyone to see the fear in their eyes. So you see a lot of tough guys in the tattoo shop wearing sunglasses.

People sometimes pass out when getting tattooed. The blood leaves your head and fills up the legs, giving you the energy for fight or flight. It's a primordial reaction of self preservation. It's not the agony of the needle that makes you faint, it's the panic. Macho guys in sunglasses worry me the most. I'm usually not strong enough to pick them up off the floor.

Armband tattoos were the staple of 90's tattooing. You can thank Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers or trend setting homosexual men for popularizing the armband tattoo but either way, your grunge rock fashion statement was not complete without a way cool tribal armband or for the ladies, a band of flowers or butterflies. But what the tattoo artist may not have told you is that an arm band tat would essentially cut your arm in two and put the kybosh on any future plans for a full sleeve. Imagine an artist sitting down to what would otherwise be a blank canvass if it wasn't for a huge black line intersecting the entire work surface. Mostly those who succumbed to arm band urges never expected that their desire to get tattooed would extend to an entire limb but that's the short sighted nature of those who want just one tattoo.

You see, no one with just one tattoo really has just one tattoo. Those with one tattoo are already planning their second tattoo. The most difficult part of getting a first tattoo is the trepidation leading up to when the needle touches the skin. As soon as the inking begins, suddenly you're a tattooed person. And then you start seeing other people's tattoo work and you start getting ideas for your next piece. You miss the rush of sitting under the gun, the electric drone of contact points firing and the thrill of fresh ink - a new addition to your body.

If I had a dime for every person who told me they were going to get "just one tattoo".

Oh wait, I do!

Adam Sky

Editor in Chief

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