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Wednesday February 3rd. 2016

Moving onward, to a fully private studio.

Its been nearly five fantastic years since hubtattoo opened its doors.  The East 11th st space was the first time I’ve owned my own shop, instead of operating from a host business.  I tested theories and models of my own creation that many tattooers I know told me wouldn’t work.  Well, it works really quite beautifully.  We have all enjoyed the space, its beautiful, peaceful, and functional.  However there are some pretty signifigant issues with the HVAC, it leaks when it rains, and as the neighborhood gets more developed the noise level outside has increased to a point of reliably intruding on the INSIDE.  On top of these and other issues, and in light of the reliability of my clients over the past 8 or 9 years, I feel good about adjourning from the public domain.  And I am confident that the new space will be better in every way.  To all of the good people who have been my clients and friends, I thank you for your support.   I could not do it without you.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

for the love of conversation

    Those who call me friend, probably already know this about me (and I thank you for understanding).  For many of my Facebook “friends” it is probably not so obvious, and to those who really don’t know me at all I am sure it has been, and will continue to be a source of gross misunderstanding.
When I post things online that seen outrageous, inflammatory, or insensitive, I am NOT trying to offend or convince any one of anything.  In our overwhelmed and mentally numb electronic social culture I often use these “hot buttons” in an attempt to snare the attention of people who might otherwise just scroll right past without really noticing.  My INTENTION is to invite intelligent discussion of the topic.  Not to convince anyone that my view (or the viewpoint implied by the inflammatory post) is correct and should therefore be adopted by all.  No, I am actually asking (in my own way) if anyone wants to discuss the topic with me.  I value the thoughts and opinions of others, and appreciate when they are shared with me in a rational way.  I see this sharing of thoughts and opinions as an opportunity to better understand the topic, my own views, and the people who are participating in the discussion.
I appreciate discussing sensitive and provocative topics with people, I find it intellectually stimulating, thought provoking, and entertaining.  I was always taught that, “You don’t discuss politics, religion, or sex, in polite conversations”…   but I’ve always found that these are some of the most fertile topics for interesting conversation to be had. I’ve always been more interested in being “real” than in being “polite”.
I also find it fascinating that most of the time, even when at first it seems that my opinion on a topic is RADICALLY different from the opinion of the person I am discussing it with, very often after a good discussion we find that our opinions and thoughts are more similar than dissimilar, and that semantic issues and sensitivities to personal experience have only made it seem that we disagree on the surface.  This may be quite close to the root of all social strife, and is very close to the reason why I love debate so much.  I think in truth we are all much more alike than is apparent in our “flash card,” “sound bite,” “headline,” “hash-tag” driven modern communication, which while making the world more “connected,” is likely driving us all further socially and emotionally apart.
I am NOT a person who refuses to give fair consideration to a contrary point of view.  In fact I will gladly give full consideration to any information which is presented in a rational, intelligible way.  Having my perspective change due to being exposed to new and persuasive information is one of my favorite things in the world.  This doesn’t mean I will instantly be persuaded by your views.  More likely is that I will consider your input, and offer a rebuttal for YOU to consider, hoping that you will do the same, and the conversation will be able to move forward…that is how debate WORKS.
I am, however, a person with many well formed opinions.  A well formed opinion is one that has been shaped by careful consideration and examination of all available information.  If you are a person who gets angry or disgusted when another person doesn’t agree with you, or accept your opinions as “correct,” you are not a rational person, and are currently incapable of intelligent debate…  you might want to work on that.  A knee jerk emotional reaction to information is NOT a well formed opinion.  Neither is a belief based on a preference for a particular perspective or answer.
Opinions seem to be thought of as offensive in our culture, which I have never really been able to understand.  Opinions by definition are something that can change as new information is learned.  What people refer to as BELIEFS, on the other hand, are more often nearly concrete in the believers mind, regardless of what information is presented to the believer, that to a critical thinker might alter or contradict the held belief.   To me that makes opinions seem like a GOOD thing, even if I disagree with them, and beliefs seem like a kind of frightening lack of interest in truth and the development of ones understanding of reality.
So to summarize-if anything I post has upset or offended you in the past, or does so in the future, I apologize for stimulating your negative feelings.  However I would encourage you to speak up, and join in a conversation that you CLEARLY have feelings and opinions about, and lets both EVOLVE our understandings about the topic, instead of just assuming that you have fully understood the point I was trying to make, that your current opinion is infallible,  and choosing to be offended.
If you are incapable of doing any of these things, please block me so that I don’t make you uncomfortable in your bubble.  Causing upset to those individuals who are incapable of considering the possibility that information may exist which would alter their previously held beliefs and opinions is not actually my goal.  Its more that Im looking for intelligent, rational people with whom I might enjoy a lively debate/conversation.
Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When I say “call me if you have any concerns”, I actually mean it!

      When I have finished the tattoo appointment, and I say to you… “text or call if theres anything you’re concerned about with the tattoo.” I do ACTUALLY mean it!
So your tattoo session is finished, Ive put your bandage on and suggested a course of action for your after-care, and you’re off!  All finished and its all up to you now right?  WRONG!
I offer every client an over-view of after-care theory based on many years of experimentation and experience with what methods my work normally responds well to.  The aftercare recommendations I offer you are sufficient for nearly every client, with no further instruction being required in order to heal the tattoo perfectly.  However, everyone is a little different, and some clients do require differing tactics to properly heal their work.  There is no way that I can know this in advance, of course, but if I were to offer every single client everything I know about tattoo aftercare theory it would have to come in the form of a small textbook, which I think would only serve to overwhelm and confuse the few clients who actually bothered to read it.
When a tattoo heals PERFECTLY, you would hardly even notice it healing.  In an ideal situation the tattoo doesn’t ooze plasma, doesn’t stick to anything, there is no redness, little or no swelling, nothing that resembles a rash or pimples in the surrounding tissue,  it just looks to be drying out, and there will be no pain, virtually no tenderness, and no visibly raised scabs.  When a perfectly healing tattoo does peel, the flakes coming off of it will be small, tissue-paper thin, nearly colorless, and tend to slough off with little or no physical sensation whatsoever.
Things that help a tattoo heal perfectly include but are not limited to:

* Good overall physical health
*Closely following aftercare recommendations
*Age plays a role (younger bodies heal faster)
*Healthy Diet and exercise routine
*Appropriately soft, loose, lint-free clothing, if any, over the tattoo while healing
*Avoid contaminates and physical exertion for a few days post-tattoo

It is not at all uncommon for tattoos to have minor issues during the healing process.  Perhaps its just a little red, a little swollen, or oozing more than you would expect, etc.  None of these symptoms are in and of themselves anything to be OVERLY concerned about, they can all be part of a tattoo healing normally.  However, each of them can, if left un-checked, lead to VERY SERIOUS issues with the healing of the tattoo and result in a long, painful, and unhappy healing experience, as well as the loss of color, and the build-up of unwanted scar tissue.
Ever had a tattoo heal rough? It can be miserable, and may result in anything from thick hard scabs, to cracking, bleeding, puss, pain, swelling, sensitivity, rashes, even fever!  When your tattoo heals badly, it will almost certainly loose some of the pigment we worked so hard to put in, and if you end up with scarring it may be many months before the skin has settled enough to allow for touch-ups to be performed.
Most if not all of these issues can be avoided altogether with minor changes to your aftercare, or simple extra steps in your after-care regiment.  If you take the extra steps or modify your methods at the FIRST sign of any difficulty it can usually be avoided altogether, but if you do nothing, and try to just “muscle through it”, you may be signing yourself up for weeks, or even months of discomfort and disappointment, not to mention having to endure it all again for touch-ups!  The trouble may be that you might not know what to do if your tattoo is irritated or if the healing is on the verge of taking a turn for the worse.  That is why it is of VITAL importance that you CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY if you are experiencing ANY unexpected difficulty or abnormal symptoms during the healing process.
I am usually near my phone, and if you text me or call me with concerns about your tattoo, I will typically get back to you in less than an hour, and often I will return your text immediately.  I don’t mind if you text me late at night, early in the morning, on a day off or on a holiday-


– and I want nothing more than for your tattoo experience to go as smoothly as possible from consultation to being fully healed.
Things that can negatively impact the healing of your new tattoo include but are not limited to:

*Poor overall physical health
*recent illness or injury pre-tattoo
*Disregarding aftrer-care recommendations
*insufficient rest (especially if your tattoo is below the waist)
*Poor diet and exercise routine
*Drinking to the point of being drunk, and/or using hard drugs
*Wearing tight, corse, materials on the healing tattoo
*Exposure to contaminants (children’s hands, cats paws, and crowded bars are good examples)
*Touching your tattoo with your hands before washing your hands
*over exertion (take a few days off from the gym, or yoga, etc)

It happens occasionally that clients come back for their next session after a month or more since their last session, and I will ask “how did your last session heal for you?”, and they tell me “It was rough, I had some difficulty”.  It is disappointing enough to me to know anyone has had or is having a rough healing experience, but its even more frustrating if I wasn’t given the opportunity to help avert the trouble in the first place.  Our second appointment is NOT the time to tell me your tattoo didn’t heal well after the first appointment!  So PLEASE, don’t hesitate to reach out to me if your tattoo is doing ANYTHING you are unfamiliar with, concerned about, or unsure of.  I promise you that I will be HAPPY to hear from you, and that there is a VERY good chance that by contacting me at the FIRST sign of trouble may give us the opportunity to divert you from having a miserable couple of weeks.
So please, don’t second guess yourself on it, if its midnight, or christmas morning and your new tattoo has you concerned for some reason, Im only a text message away!  Please give me the opportunity to advise you and counsel you during the healing process if you need a little help so that your work heals the way it should and we can make the entire experience as pleasant as possible.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

regarding “tattoo schools”, words of comfort for tattooers and other interested parties.

    I’m hearing a lot of chatter lately from tattooers, and would-be tattooers, and even from collectors, regarding “tattoo-schools” around the country.  The general consensus seems to be confusion, frustration, and sometimes outrage.  I myself feel inclined toward loathing at the idea of these “schools”, and those that would set themselves up as “teachers” with a “come one come all (so long as your check clears)” type of attitude.  The community of tattooers represents a long line of artists and craftspeople descended from a very small group of dedicated individuals who won their livelihood through a struggle against information scarcity, and societal resistance to the craft.  The tools, techniques, and knowledge have been carefully guarded secrets for most of tattooings history, until (in my understanding) people like Guy Aitchison and others began to publish educational material and publicly accessible supply catalogues in the 90’s and american culture began to widely embrace the collection of visible tattoos en-mass.  Since then the number of tattooers and collectors has sky-rocketed and the art form has grown in celebrity and desirability to match.  It is only reasonable that tattooing would become considered by to be a desirable line of work for many people, many of whom, by reasonable standards have no business putting permanent marks on people.
Did not all of us tattooers begin our careers as unqualified for the task?  I know my “apprenticeship” was little more than a foot in the door, so to speak…  a crash course in the tools, and culture of tattoo studios.  I’ve made my way since 1995 by trial and error, learning as I went. I often reflect that 98% of what I know about art I have learned AFTER I started tattooing. I shudder to think of many hundreds of tattoos that I did as a younger tattooer, and have only the fact that my clients weren’t forced to hire me to do their tattoos to comfort me.  I think that we as tattooers can ALL relate to this in some form or fashion.  So why do so many of us get hot under the collar to hear of these “tattoo schools” and the enthusiasts who enroll in them?
A tattooer, it is generally thought by professional tattooers, should learn to tattoo in a one on one apprenticeship with a highly skilled and knowledgeable tattoo artist.  It is also generally believed that only those with adequate artistic potential and the right sort of integrity and character should be allowed the opportunity to learn to tattoo.  As any tattoo collector learns eventually, a poorly executed tattoo is a trauma, and a bitter disappointment, that is costly and problematic to remedy with cover-up’s, laser removal, or simply having to go through life with a mark on ones skin that one is ashamed or embarrassed of.  But who is responsible for deciding who creates ones tattoo?
The tattoo collector is ALWAYS responsible for making the choice as to who will create their tattoo.  A collector of poor judgement in this matter will very likely fall into the hands of an amateur tattooer, and receive amateur work.  Is it the fault of the amateur tattooer? I think not.  If it weren’t for all of the clients who’s ignorance or poor judgement allowed me to practice my craft as a novice, I would never have been able to reach the level I have reached where I feel that I do a respectable job.  All newly minted tattooers are vulnerable to taking on jobs that are beyond their skill level, in which they will fail. Only an apprentice with a very high level of guidance will be able to avoid this mistake, but this level of guidance is incredibly rare, even in traditional apprenticeships.  So if we all go through this period of development, why the concern over the “tattoo schools”?
Perhaps the concern comes from tattooers indignation at the cheap sale of admittance to a line of work that many of us hold as a sacred office.  Perhaps it is out of frustration at the inevitable proliferation of sub-par tattoos that will ensue.  It may also be a concern about the publics impression of tattoos in general if they are exposed to too many amateur tattoos. Often I see that it is the concern of over-saturation in the work-force of tattooers, and the fear of the subsequent lack of clients for each individual tattooer.
I ask again, is it not the responsibility of the collector to know good from bad? Professional from amateur?  I live in a city with over 200 tattoo studios, and more open every week, yet I have more demand than I can meet.  I am very grateful to the community for their trust and support, and I work hard to treat them kindly, respectfully, and deliver the finest tattoos I am able.  That, for me, seems to be sufficient to ensure my income, and no matter how many tattoo artists move to my city, I expect to have plenty of business.  I have graduated to a level of tattooing, it would seem, that attracts a more knowledgeable class of clientele.  My clients research their options, identify style and ability they deem to be superior to the competition, and they are willing to wait longer and pay more for my services than they would have to with the competitors, and yet they choose to do so because of their own judgement. I imagine that all of the tattooers in my city, be they poorly trained or highly experienced are all working, to one degree or another.  If they are not as busy as they would like, I would advise them to avoid blaming the number of competitors and focus on how they might elevate their craft to a level that will attract a more reliable flow of business.
In my opinion, these “tattoo schools” are a scam, perpetrated on ignorant or unworthy would-be tattooers.  A money grab by tattooers who themselves cannot make a living by the merit of their own tattooing, and so mislead others into believing that if they lay the money on the table, they can be handed a certificate of “graduation” and go off merrily into a life of celebrity and riches as a professional tattoo artist.  However, I think that ultimately attacking these tattoo schools isn’t the best use of our energies.
I suggest, to any who are troubled by the proliferation of tattoo schools, to focus instead on client education, public education, and the refinement of ones own craft.  If we can work together to bring public discrimination up to a reasonable overall level, they wont employ the unqualified, and those of us who are proficient in our craft, will always have enough work.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

to TIP, or NOT to TIP… that is the question

    Wether or not one should tip their tattoo artist, is a very common question.  I am regularly asked, awkwardly, if I should be tipped for my services.  In an effort to shed some light on the subject (and avoid having to answer this question in person if possible) I will answer the question here, in the hope that I can offer some things to consider for anyone who isn’t sure.
Do you have to tip your tattoo artist? The simple answer, is “no”.  Just like you don’t have to tip your server at restaurants (some restaurants do impose a mandatory gratuity for larger parties).
Tipping is a custom in America, and many (but not all) countries, that is rarely compulsory.  It is up to you wether or not you wish to offer a gratuity.  However I would have you consider this…  Do you tip your waiter?  Do you tip your hair-dresser or barber?  Do you tip your landscaper, your maid, your bar-tender, or the sushi-chef?  If so, then you may be a person who believes in tipping service industry workers, and yes, tattooing is a service industry.
My personal experience has shown me that tipping is customary in tattoo shops.  Personally I ALWAYS tip my tattoo artists.  Many of my clients are kind enough to tip me, but some do not.  I am grateful for the tips I receive, but I don’t feel unkindly toward those who do not choose to tip.  It is a personal choice.  I do not treat the tipping clients better than the non-tipping clients, though, I have known some tattooers who do. Over the years I think that less than half of my clients leave a tip, but the ones who do are often so generous, that tips still account for a considerable percentage of my income, and though I don’t rely on tips, they make a world of difference in the long run.
Clients often ask “how much am I supposed to tip?”.  Again, it is a personal choice.  Obviously tattoos can be very expensive, and a percentage based tip can get out of hand on large work.  You may tip a good waitress 20%, and thats a great tip for a tattoo artist too, but if your tattoo costs $5,000, well, that can be difficult to swing.   Ive had clients tip me by bringing lunch, or bringing produce from their gardens. Ive had shockingly generous cash tips, Ive had many modest tips that were more symbolic than anything else, and everything in between…  each of them was greatly appreciated…   So how much should you tip if you choose to tip?  I’d suggest an amount that you can be GLAD to give, but one that does’t impede your ability to come back for the next session.   In my mind, the first priority is that you get tattooed regularly…   if thats all you can afford, then perhaps cash tips aren’t the most prudent idea.  If you’re doing well and care to show your tattoo artist that you feel the tattoo is worth what they ask and MORE, then a cash tip is a wonderful, generous, and appreciated way of showing it.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

to all of my clients and friends

I would very much like to say something to all of my clients and friends-
Each of us is on a journey of self discovery, and everyone experiences ups and downs, good days and bad days, times when our attitudes are really the best they can be, and times when they are at their absolute worst… periods of positivity, periods of negativity… all the evolutionary variations and wobbles that make the human, perfectly imperfect… Personally I consider it a great privilege and one of my greatest pleasures to have the opportunity to be with people through their cycles of development- the relationships that I build with my clients over time inspire me in my personal life and in my personal development, and I have a very, very warm regard and tremendous gratitude for each and every one of the people with whom I am so fortunate to spend my time.
I know that being free with my thoughts and opinions, as I go through this cycle in my own life, can make me challenging to understand, but EASY to misunderstand. Im sure that I sometimes offend the sensitivities of those whom I care about quite by accident, and am perhaps at times difficult to even like…
So to every one of my clients and friends, I am grateful for your willingness to tolerate, accept, support, and seek to understand me on a personal level as we work together- I feel that it is through my interactions with you that my greatest achievements in inter-personal development and general perspective on human interactions are achieved. The time we spend talking, about everything under the sun, are hours that I cherish as one of my life’s greatest treasures. THANK YOU

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Every one of us who considers getting tattooed, from the uninitiated tattoo “virgin” to the already heavily tattooed collector, faces the dilemma of deciding “what do I get?”.  In my opinion, this question is often over emphasized and collectors tend to “loose sight of the forest for the trees”.
My thoughts tend toward simplifying the process of deciding what tattoo get for your next tattoo by stepping WAY back, and taking a broader, more long-term consideration of your tattoo collection, keeping several very important points in mind.
Point #1, ANYONE who has NO tattoos, does not fully comprehend what getting and having a tattoo really means, or what it is like, and so it is virtually impossible for them to make well informed decisions about tattoo collection unless they take the advice offered them by a more experienced collector.  It is very important to differentiate between a collector who is experienced in bad choices, and one who has LEARNED to make good choices over time.
Point #2, The VAST majority of people who get one tattoo, will eventually get another, even for those who SWEAR they will only get one, the likelihood is that they will eventually get another, and perhaps many more.  The reason for this is that the tendency is that the more tattoos you get, the more tattoos you will want, and the bigger you get your tattoos, the bigger you will want them to be.  This line of probability lead down a path of tattoo collection that results in a collector who has several very small tattoos, several medium to large tattoos, several very large tattoos, and a lot of “filler” tattoos designed to try to connect all the smaller tattoos.  This type of collection is by far the most common sort, and the trained eye can spot it everywhere.  Most of these collectors will tell you the same thing, that if they had known then what they know now, they would have ONLY gotten HUGE tattoos from the very beginning.  In my mind the ideal tattoo is a full body-suit, but that the only BEST way to break it down from there is with FOUR full-sleeves, a turtle-back , and a turtle-front…  beyond that any smaller divisions should be avoided or at least minimized as much as possible, a sleeve should never under any circumstances be comprised of more than four segments (inner and outer upper and lower). and truly the back should not be divided at all, and at most the front should be divided into chest, stomach, sides, and quads.
Point #3, NOBODY, who gets QUALITY tattoo work, EVER says “my tattoo is too big”…   but nearly EVERYONE who gets a tattoo will say “I wish I had gotten it larger” if it is anything less than a full sleeve, or a full turtle-back piece.
Point #4, you are not a unique, special snowflake to whom averages and probabilities do not apply- in fact you are very likely to fall into the same statistical probabilities that the rest of us do, and so it will serve you to consider what I have to say NEXT:I advise any person wishing to get tattooed, wether it is your first, or you are already heavily tattooed, to ask yourself this question-  If you were going to get your ENTIRE BODY tattooed, from your jawline, to the tops of your feet, front to back side to side, wrist to wrist, ENTIRELY covered in tattoos ALL AT ONCE, WHAT WOULD YOU GET?I know, I know, the question nearly makes most panic and get defensive hurriedly stating ” I would NEVER get that heavily tattooed!!!”Well, it doesn’t hurt to IMAGINE it, does it? Its FREE to IMAGINE it, isn’t it? Theres no COMMITMENT in imagining it, RIGHT?  So go ahead, its OKAY, just for fun IMAGINE what you would get IF you were going to tattoo your ENTIRE body…Once you come up with the answer, I would say talk it over with the VERY talented tattooer of your choice, to distill your idea into a workable body suit concept, and then, break off a CHUNK of that body suit, however small it needs to be to suit your current level of commitment, and get that small piece of the larger plan.  For example, if your body suit idea is a samurai fighting an octopus surrounded by ghosts and demons with crashing waves, and maple leaves blowing in the wind, but you only want a little tattoo on your shoulder for now- then get a couple maple leaves, or some other small element of the larger tattoo, so that IF and WHEN you are ready for more tattooing, you can build TOWARD your larger goal.  This is a way of building bridges toward long term goals, as opposed to burning them.  You don’t want to wind up having to deal with laser tattoo removal, cover-up’s, or with smaller, dated, inconsistent tattoos from your youth “floating” in the midst of more mature and beautiful tattoo work you may acquire later in life, and find yourself always explaining “yeah, this one I got when I was 18 and didn’t know any better”…   I think we’ve ALL heard that one before…  so here I have offered what I believe to be a viable solution to avoid it for those who have yet to get their first tattoo, and for those of us mid-way into our collections?  just apply this line of thinking to the remaining clean skin you have and make the most of the options that remain!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

another possibility

For years, as my understanding of tattoo as an art form has grown-I have undergone countless changes in perspective, values, and interests-   many have been a series of continual additions to an unchanging foundation, while others have smashed previous concepts and overwritten older ideas.
and as the years go by my epiphanies seem to grow less frequent, but much subtler and more profound (at least in my mind they seem profound at the moment they strike me).  Recently I have had a MAJOR realization that has radically enhanced the realm of perceived possibility in my mind-
I the past I have usually encouraged my clients to AT LEAST CONSIDER avoiding tattoos on their backs until they were prepared to commit to an entire backpiece…  preferably a full “turtle-back” (a tattoo that covers the entire backside, ass and all).  My thoughts behind this are driven primarily by the tendency I see across the board that the more tattoos a person gets the more they want, and- the bigger a persons tattoos are the bigger they want them to be- SO, it follows that you only have ONE CHANCE, ONE GREAT OPPORTUNITY to have a CLEAN UNADULTERATED tattoo as huge and flat and awesomely gigantic as a TURTLE BACK…RIGHT?
well for years, it seemed like sound logic- all the while tattooing away on ribs-bellies- chests-quadracepts… never mentioning cautions or considerations like those I may offer up to those seeking tattoos on their shoulders or lower backs- until I had looked at the works of SHIGE enough that a BETTER understanding of a collectors potential finally revealed itself to my conscious brain-
My idea that a collector only had one chance to have that huge awesome flat tattoo, was wrong-THEY HAVE TWOthe” turtle-front”…