Can someone explain to me why people feel the need to have a relationship with a shop and or an artist as in “my shop”, “my artist”. There is such a butt load of talented artists out there why would you limit yourself to one shop or person?
I’ve been going to the same artist for 9 years. Every single dot of ink on my body has come from his gun. No one else has ever or will ever work on me. Every time he works on me, my man Troy down at Lambadi City gives me a hundred or two of his business cards because he knows I’m out hustlin for his shop every damn day. Over the last decade he’s got $10,000’s of business on my referral’s, and that’s just what he knows about and cops to.
So, I think I’m the kind of guy you’re asking this question to.
Part of it is that the Cincinnati tattoo scene leaves something to be desired. There’s decent shops like Beelisitc or Designs by Dana (even if the legendary Dana himself is long retired) and Bullseye, but for every one of them there’s dozens of subpar shops like Read’em and Weep, or outright pits like the thankfully defunct Heavens or the shop down the street that just says “Tatoos”.
On that scene, Lambadi City’s the best shop around, easy. When I’m wearing my leather vest and a shirt with no sleeves, I get stopped and asked about my ink constantly, because ’round these parts you don’t see quality work like this often….time which I then use to pimp out Troy’s shop.
So part of it is there just ain’t alot of talent in these parts, and I’m too damn broke to travel to check out scenes like Columbus or Toledo or Cleveland.
But more, Troy and me have come up together. He’s been an artist longer than I’ve been alive, but he’s only been tattooing for a year and a half before I met him. Back then we were both a hundred pounds lighter and still had all our hair. We just click and always have. We’re both dicks, we both have deeply sarcastic senses of humor, and he loves the fact I have pretty much zero social skills and say whatever fucked up thing that pops into my head. He’s one of my oldest friends and going down to the shop is as much as visiting an old pal as it is getting work done.
A while back I was working on a portfolio and was looking to get apprenticed. Troy helped me develop as an artist, gave me pointers, and took the time to just help me. If my drawing got up to his standards, he may have taken me on.
Of course, then my Jessica died, my lovely girl, and I went into a 14 months tail spin I’m just now barely starting to pull out of, but that’s neither here nor there. Just because my personal tragedy killed my tattoo dreams doesn’t change the fact Troy took the time to teach me just because I’m his friend.
THAT’S why I’m attached to Troy. He’s the best in Cincny, but more importantly he’s my friend. When I walk into Lambadi City, there’s few places on this earth where I feel like I belong more. And that’s as valuable to me as my killer tattoos themselves.
Love. Peace. Metallica.
I used the description “my shop” in another post. I live in a town of about 4000 people surrounded by other towns both smaller and larger, as well as Harrisburg. (PA’s capitol city) I have also “adopted” other shops. I have “my butcher” at the local farmer’s market,. I go to the same hardware store, auto mechanic, barber, grocer, etc. Lemoyne is a dry town, but close by there is a tavern I frequent and “everybody knows my name” I served 13 years on borough council. I shop LOCAL. When I walk into these places I know the people and they know me. (I avoid Walmart like the plague)
I chose a tattoo shop that makes me feel comfortable. I have had tattoos done by their three artists and their apprentice.
My philosophy may bite me in the ass some day, but it hasn’t yet.
Tattoos are for the living. Tombstones are for the dead. Get a tattoo for yourself!
Funny story as to how and why I go to the artist I go to.
Back when I was about 16 or 17, I had a design in mind combining an image of my snakes entwined in a heart shape with their tails wrapped around each other at the bottom. I was looking around for the best artist possible to create this tattoo as best as possible. Here in Colorado, while there are plenty of Tattoo shops to go around, it’s hard to find just that right artist. I had dealt with an artist before finding mine when my fiancé got tattooed. Sure, it was alright but it wasn’t the best and an experience later on just completely turned me away from that shop entirely as well as the artist.
So anyway back to my original story. I was looking for someone who could do this tattoo for me and I ran across Justin on craigslist. Back then he wasn’t in a shop, doing tattoos from his home so I contacted him via myspace (yea, myspace! Holy crap!!) We got talking and everything and I told him I would keep him updated with my money situation and everything else. Well, needless to say that design I no longer wanted which is probably a good thing. Then I got another design in my head and had my cousin draw me up something. I sent it to him and well, things just didn’t work out with that one either.
After that we didn’t talk for quite a while, couple of years actually even though he was still on my friends list. I then met the original artist who did my Ankh tattoo on my leg. She was in the market to restart her tattooing business since she had come out here from Germany and offered to tattoo me for free pretty much. Dumb mistake on my part and the tattoo turned out absolutely horrible even though at the time I didn’t think it was that bad considering I had nothing to compare it to.
A year after that I was looking to do another tattoo and had a design saved on my computer for years and years that I wanted to do. A friend of mine had gone to Mile Hi Tattoo (my now go to shop) and I was curious. I got on their website, scanned through the artists and who do I find working there? Justin, the same guy I was talking to years before. I looked into another decent shop, as well as one other and took a day to go visit each one to kind of see how each of them interacted with me and everything. One was a complete joke, a artist my sister actually liked to go to (he’s since quit tattooing and closed his shop) so needless to say I didn’t go with them. Then I went to Mile Hi and was able to talk with Justin and get his ideas and price ranges and everything. I showed him the one on my leg and he automatically recognized me and remembered talking to me.
Needless to say, from the very first piece he did for me to my now finished half sleeve and the redo to my Ankh he did for me almost a year ago, has been done by Justin. I enjoy every second I am in the shop, everyone there is awesome and always having fun. I can talk to any of them in the shop and they know who I am.
I love the work he has done for me and I’m already looking into sleeve number two and possibly a back piece of some sort. I even flat out told him he’d be the only person I’d go to for my tattoos, even if he no longer worked at the shop he does now. There is another guy there though that is just as good and those two are the most sought after artists in that shop. Everytime I go in Justin is always sure to give me a stack of business cards that I can hand out and needless to say, I’m running out quick. I always carry them on me. I get so many compliments while I’m working and people asking where I go that the cards just fly out of my pocket so to speak. Justin and I just have this thing and I probably wouldn’t go anywhere else. I can definitely say he’s a good friend of mine, we can laugh and joke and get serious if we have to and he always outlives my expectations when it comes to my tattoos.
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Ive been getting inkd by the same guy since 2003. He did my third tattoo and the rest since. Ive developed a professional relationship with my artist. Ive fabd a couple armrests for him. Sourced machinists and engineers when he started producing his own tattoo machines. I would rather get tattooed 4 times a year with someone good than spend twice as much and wait three times as long for someone great.
Three shops and about 40 hours later im content with my artist. Hes the best in the city and always booked up a few months. So i keep an open appt every month. He recently had surgery on his hand and is now working on his own spot. I can walk in with just a sliver of an idea and he can turn it into exactly what i want.
Plus me being a repeat customer i always get a deal on time. And he normally buys me like 6 shots of jager afterwards. Sure i could probably find someone better who i dont like