Facts about Working with Amy
and perhaps, some things you might want to know about tattooing:
I feel that one of the biggest misunderstandings in the profession of tattoos is the difference between a tattooer, and a tattoo artist. Moreover, the difference of a tattoo, and custom tattoo artwork.
As much as I detest word-policing and the need for titles/labels, I feel that the distinction between a tattooer and a tattoo artist is significant enough to discuss here. Before I do, let me go on record as saying that neither are better than the other, they are simply different experiences and products. It’s just important to know who to go to with your requests and how to set your expectations appropriately (in the interest of saving everyone’s time, money, and limited skin). Also, be assured that both professions are governed under health code regulations and must be licensed (depending on state) to operate.
Personally, I consider myself a Tattoo Artist. I think of myself as an artist first actually, and when I came to the profession of tattooing, it was with the want to do “my art.” Also, I do love the integration of people and the shear challenge of the body as a canvas. Looking at the body as something that needs to have a certain application of tattoo/art so that the tattoo serves, not only the meaning/concept, but the body itself. Moreover, I’ve learned that when I stick to what entices my eye, and I work my custom designs that way, I attract people who are perfect clients. They love my art and want to give their bodies to my creative process (because I illustrate my vision of the world in a consistent way that they find beautiful.)
*Tattoo Artists usually have one or two styles that they work in exclusively. They make very specific expressions, and seek the kind of recognition that we have of someone like Van Gogh, or Leonardo DaVinci. When you see a Van Gogh, you know it’s a Van Gogh.
Tattoo Artists are more students of the arts and from there, blend their love of art, with their passion to take on the media/craft of tattooing. They design things that have never been, and so, need someone willing to relinquish freedom to the artist to comment on their concepts. Each artist operates in their own way, and it’s important to be willing to wait. When you’re trying to design an epic piece of art, that you hope to wear forever, you want to be certain about your artists and in getting something that you will be proud of for a lifetime. As Tattoo Artists, that is a consideration of ours, as it is our name that we are marking you with. We are honored and thankful for our clients and only seek to make them as beautiful as we can.
Keep in mind that this is also our way to pay bills. We have fused our passion with our need to make money. Like all things that are big purchases, this takes extreme commitment of time, money, pain, and to the process of your chosen artist.
Another thing to note about a lot of custom Tattoo Artists, is that they typically go off appointment only. Rarely will you find them available on a walk-in basis, if you can walk-in at all. Most of these artists find themselves in private studios.
*A Tattooer is much like a tradesman who knows machinery well, and is efficient at doing the job/task set before him or her. These are people who are great for doing direct copying of fonts, logos, symbols, or any other types of imagery that do not require alteration or adjustment. A great example of a project that might interest a Tattooer is: If a client has their mother’s signature, and wanted to get it tattooed on the wrist. This would definitely be the type of project to take to a Tattooer.
*Tattooers are also good at doing Flash art. (Flash: pre-drawn designs that have been designed specifically to be tattooed in bulk because they explore broad themes, and are more about getting tattooed in the moment, than in designing something for a lifetime.) Flash art is great if you’re visiting a major city, and are the type to mark your body along with your travels. You might go to New Orleans and walk into a street shop (Street Shop: tattoo shops located on main strips of industry, who welcome walk-ins), and see a cute VooDoo doll that you’d like to get to mark your visit. This is a good example of what a Tattooer might be interested in doing.
*Note about walk-ins: If you walk in, you have to be prepared to walk out, or spend your whole day waiting at a tattoo shop to get the work you want. Sometimes a shop will take a deposit and give you a time for later in the day, however, there is no guarantee with this type of tattoo acquisition. If you don’t plan for it… it might not happen! Again, make certain to set your expectations appropriately, and with respect that there is only so many hours in a work day.
*Most Tattooers don’t care about being original. They aren’t attached to artistry, so much as the skill in putting ink into the skin efficiently, and accurately. They are highly skilled people who are very happy to see walk-ins, and to accommodate you if you are clear about what you want, and are willing to provide a lot of quick decisions so that they can get to your requests, and make you happy quickly and efficiently. Most Tattooers I’ve met, like to leave their work at work, and live their passions in their personal lives. They mostly like the look of tattoos and being in an environment where they can put their hands to a task, and make people happy consistently and quickly.
Some facts to know about cover-ups in general:
* Black cannot be covered up by any other pigment but black. Black in the skin can be muted by colors, but it’s really only lightened to a mid to light grey (cool or warm grey, depending on the color used).
* The only way that black pigment can be removed from the skin is by laser, or Tattoo Away treatments (do your research about both laser and Tattoo Away. Explore your options and discuss them with your tattoo artist). Hence, when considering a cover-up, be sure to consider the concentration of black in the current tattoo.
* It’s also important to manage expectations: Cover-ups are meant to distract from the original tattoo and mask it with a tattoo that doesn’t allow for the viewer to know what was underneath; this means that the old tattoo might not be completely “covered” by the new… it’s just going to be over powered by the new image. Often times, with a knowing eye, people can see that the new tattoo is a “cover-up”, but they will not be able to see what was originally there. This is typical and to be expected, especially if the client isn’t willing to lighten the old tattoo with laser or Tattoo Away.
Some facts to know about commissioning ‘ME’ to do a cover-up:
I have a passion for covering up regrets and making something that is no longer a point of pride into something that is current (more authentic to the wearer). However, I do have preferences when it comes to cover-ups specifically:
* I will need to see the tattoo that is to be covered before I will start the conversation of “cover-up”. Please have someone (who isn’t yourself) take a picture or series of pictures that not only show the existing tattoo, but how it sits on the body. i.e. If I am to cover a tattoo on the upper arm, I would like a picture of the tattoo itself (close up, and clear), and I would like a picture of the whole arm itself (far enough away to show the scale of the tattoo and how it sits on the upper arm).
*Some tattoos warrant laser or other forms of removal: If I feel that the existing tattoo warrants laser, I will ask that laser work is done first. Some tattoos are too dark and/or cover too much area for a sensible/successful cover-up to happen. Moreover, some tattoos, in their location, can be difficult to cover; i.e. If a pre-existing tattoo is at the base of a wrist (very close to the hand)… There is little room to expand the tattoo without going into the hand (which is typically a limit for mainstream tattoo collectors). Again, upon seeing the pre-existing tattoo, I will be able to inform about next steps.
*I need people who are open to ideas. If a client isn’t open to laser, and wants me to do a cover-up, I need a lot of artistic license/freedom. I will do my best to give my clients what they want, but I’m only concerned about being able to do the job well. Without removal treatments, cover-ups typically have to be bigger, and have to be very well saturated with color; They also, typically, have to be textured, or organic. Texture helps confuse the eye about what is underneath, and organic imagery is easily morphed into what it needs to be to cover the old tattoo.
*Patience, patience, patience! Cover-ups require a client who is willing to do what it takes to redeem the past. Cover-ups are typically bigger and more saturated, and therefore, can be a lot more expensive than the original work. Moreover, if the pre-existing work does require laser or Tattoo Away, it will need to go through that process first, and need the time to recover from the removal procedures. (Your removal specialist will inform the recovery time, and how many removal sessions are needed.)
Skin Tone, and How it’s Relevant:
*With skin being my canvas, I felt the need to explain the effect that skin tone plays in the realm of tattooing.
To put it simply, our skin is like a photo filter. If you put a filter over an image, it changes the look of the initial image. This is particularly important when tattooing in color. If you are a person (blessed, in my opinion; as a pasty, pal, lady who fears the sun.) with a darker skin tone, you will have to be aware of what to expect of color in your skin.
If you have a redder skin color, things that are green in color, aren’t going to be as vibrant (red being green’s opposite, and compliment; the two cancel each other out). If you’re really pale, as I am, you’ll notice that your tattoos tend to pastel over time, and loose their punch; the primary colors, that were once super bright, will soften. If you are a very dark person, unfortunately, your options for color is very limited, and a lot of artists, if they do predominately color work, will be (if not completely against working on you) very cautious about working color on your skin.
Here is a design that illustrates (as best as can be shown) the effect that skin tone plays in how a tattoo will look:
*Note the change in colors and clarity of the design as the skin tone gets darker. Please know that if your artist is against using color on you, it’s because they are looking out for you. We want to give you what you expect, and if the expectations don’t align with what WE know you will get, then we will refuse to move forward. Again, this isn’t a slant against your race, or skin tone… it’s merely being practical with with the job at hand; all in alignment with managing expectations.
*I’m always honored to have my art be commissioned for a memorial tattoo. I believe that getting tattoos are quite cathartic and healing (when done with the right direction).
I’m deeply compassionate to my clients and try my best to accommodate them in everything that is wanted/needed. With this sense of compassion, and my time tattooing for more than a decade, I’ve now realized that any tattoo involving grief must have a year between the loss and the tattoo. Any grief councilor would advise the same, and now, it is a firm rule of mine.
It is impossible to properly talk about art, and permanent marks, when in the wake of intense emotion/grief (which isn’t permanent). I’m fine with commenting on grief once emotions have been felt and the stages of grief have past.
As an artist, I need to be able to discuss my art free of the gravity of grief. I’ve advise clients that fell into the “too soon” category, only to have them lash out at me, and consider me rude, unprofessional, and insensitive; None of which I’ve been, but when grief is at the wheel of our hearts, and our brain’s are in shock, it’s really hard to see situations clearly. I do not want to mark someone with their grief forever!!!
* If you have had a death, I will require a full year pass before I will begin the conversation of a memorial tattoo; NO EXCEPTIONS!!!
*I will tattoo someone who is in the process of accepting death if it is before the death happens (I can make no guarantees about time, or actually getting the tattoo done before the death occurs. My books fill quite fast, and I can only get to them as I finish others. Everyone is getting work that means something to them, and is important. Please know that I would love to fulfill everyone, but as I’m one person, I have to manage what I can do as one person. Thank you for understanding!)
Getting a tattoo before an imminent death, can be very good, and quite healing. The attitude of a tattoo designed before a death is much different than what goes on after death; People usually are in a state of acceptance, and preparation. It’s a time of making peace with not only the death of a loved one, but one’s own mortality. In this mindset, it has been my experience, that tattoos can be wonderful medicine, and the time talking to your artist can be very atoning. If I can logistically (timing wise) help someone in their path to acceptance and peace, I will happily take on a project of this merit.
Touch Up: a touch up is a term used for when a tattoo hasn’t set in the skin as was intended, and there needs to be another session involved to recommit the ink. A touch up is at a tattooer/tattoo artist’s discretion, and is only done if the artist can find fault in how the tattoo was applied. If there are complications with healing, or anything that happens once the client has gotten the tattoo, and it isn’t related to how the tattoo was done, the tattooer/tattoo artist isn’t at fault, nor will they offer a “Touch Up”.
Tattoos on Hands and Feet:
*I will not guarantee work done on hands or feet: Meaning that I will not do “Touch Ups” on hands or feet.
Hands and Feet are the most notorious body parts to lose ink. They are made for heavy traction and the skin exfoliates more rapidly than other parts of the body. Therefore, I will charge for any re-saturation of ink in these areas. Typically, tattoos wear away in these areas over time, even if the initial tattoo set well in the skin. (Again, managing expectations!) Finger tattoos are especially prone to ink fall-out, along with any tattoo on the soles of the feet or palms of the hands. Choose your tattoo placement wisely and realize that if the tattooer/tattoo artist is urging you to change placement, it’s because they want to insure the product.
*With hands specifically: I will not tattoo a client’s hands unless I feel confident that the tattoo will not hinder the client in the future. I assess many things when determining whether or not I will tattoo a hand (the profession of my client, the age of my client, the level to which my client is already tattooed, etc…); I will refuse to tattoo a hand if I don’t feel it’s in everyone’s best interest.
How Medical issues relate to Tattoos, and the Tattoo process:
Tattoo artists are not medical professionals, nor can they offer medical advice.
*If you have any sort of disability or medical issue, please disclose this right away. Please make sure that you clear getting tattooed with your doctor, and that you are aware of any risks in getting tattooed. Make sure you discuss your medications as well, and how they might impact your tattoo experience. This isn’t the job of your tattooer or your tattoo artist. Please do all necessary research into your own medical challenges before you contact a tattoo professional.
Note: Any time you open the skin of the body, you are prone to infection. An infection might occur and is rarely the fault of the tattoo professional (Given the strict use of barriers, cleanliness and cross contamination controls). Many things carry germs, and if a large portion of your body is open to germ invasion, you could get an infection.
*Also, there is no way to really foresee an allergy. We try to ask about allergies, but there’s only so much we can foresee about your tattoo experience. If you know yourself to be prone to allergies and allergic reactions, it’s best to consult a tattoo studio about what type of products they use, and then do the research (on your own) to see if the products might be an issue. Then, manage expectations with regards to your own, personal, allergies. Especially pay attention to any form of numbing agents: It’s really a bummer to find out that the thing that was supposed to help you get tattooed, is now making the whole mission impossible (particularly if that realization happens the day of the tattoo).
Products to ask about:
*The brand of ink (i.e. Intenze, Fusion, Eternal, Star Brite, World Famous, Dynamic, Raw Pigments, etc…)
*Saniderm, Dermshield, Skin Armor, Techiderm (tattoo coverings)
*Aftercare (in general) (Personally, I’m a huge fan of Redemption, and it is the aftercare I recommend)
*General Adhesives (medical tape, etc…)
Also, if you have certain food allergies, best to express them up front as well; especially if they are severe. We provide snacks for our clients if they need some carbs, or sugar to get through the tattoo, however, they aren’t gluten friendly, nor nut free. Please be sure to stock yourself with snacks if you have particular food preferences.
Sometimes, you gotta take your clothes off! Please try to think of your tattooer/tattoo artist as a safe space to be naked around. If the goal is a tattoo that compliments the body, and the flow of the body’s musculature, there will have to be enough exposure of the body (photography might be needed as a reference) in order to properly assess the tattoo ahead. This is particularly critical if the tattoo is large, and moves to multiple plains of the body (Front, Side, and Back).
When designing tattoos, it’s necessary to think about how the design will wrap the body and “fit” the placement. Also, it’s just as important that the tattoo look great clothed or naked. (Of course, if you are getting a small tattoo on your wrist, you will not be required to expose more than your arm. Exposure is only needed for certain projects, and it will be project-specific as to how much nudity is needed.)
Personally, I’m trying to do work that is amazing in any context/view. Therefore, if I’m doing a chest piece (for example) I will require my clients to remove their shirts, and if it’s a woman, their bra; the tattoo has to work as well with the bra on as with the bra off. I like to visualize what kind of photo I’m going to take of the tattoo before it’s even created, and how much skin to clothing ratio I will want in the portfolio picture.
Please be prepared to remove any articles of clothing that might impede the application of the tattoo.
Travel and Tattoos:
If at all possible, it’s best to organize tattoos around travel and mix the two very rarely. If tattoo and travel schedules overlap, it’s critical to keep the tattoo out of harms way, and limit the likelihood of infection. More over, it’s important that the body’s immune system is safeguarded (tattoos are very taxing on the body and its immune system.) Please be sure to get enough rest (always note time zones and it’s effect on sleep), enough calories (‘cheat’ days are best coupled with tattoo time), and how much movement will be involved in travel, once the tattoo is procured. It’s best to make sure that the tattoo is over being an open wound (takes about 2 days) before extensive travel happens again.
In terms of vacation, it’s best to avoid tattoos all together. Tattoos need time out of sun, water, and heavy traction. It could severely limit your vacation if you try to get tattooed while on vacation or in close proximity to a vacation.
Thank you for the time you’ve taken to read the above. Just know that I’ve written this information for you to understand my craft and to ensure everyone is clear about what to look for when seeking any of the above points of topic.
I hope that time and fate align us… if not, there is much talent in the world! Make sure to cast your nets wide and make solid tattoo choices. :)