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31285 Temecula Parkway Suite 170
Temecula CA 92592

Deciding on a design

Careful consideration of what you want for a tattoo is always the best tact. Impulse tattoos are rarely looked upon years later with fondness. The best tattoos I’ve seen have all been carefully planned.

What will you be happy to live with forever? Know what you want, what you like. Are there particular symbols or symbolism that you‘d like incorporated into your tattoo? Animals?  Fish?  Totems? Do you like a particular style of art? Do you want to express anything to the world with your tattoo? Is it private? Do you want to express your love for someone or something? What image of yourself do you want to proclaim? Patriotic? Religious? Traditional? Tribal? New Skool? Skulls or scary stuff? Flowers?  Cartoons? A particular quotation‘? Check out appendix a in the back of this book for a list of some of the tattoos that I’ve seen in my career.

Tattoos are permanent. Most people need to really think about that concept. Permanent means that you will have this with you until the day you die, plus 6 months. A tattoo is one of the only truly permanent things that many people have in their lives.

1. Names l always caution against getting a spouses name or boyfriend/girlfriend‘s name. Seldom do relationships/ love affairs last as long as a tattoo. Your mom and dad, grandma and grandpa, children, pets, people who have passed away are all good bets if you want to put a name on your body. How many times have you been ‘in love”? Be honest with yourself. This may be ‘the one’ but put his or her name on your body and you can be sure Murphy’s Law will bite you in the ass.

2. Corporate logos, that Nike swish, Harley Davidson logo, band logos or other corporate stuff, you really need to think what these companies will mean to you in 20 years. The guy running around with the ‘Poison’ tattoo probably didn‘t spend much time thinking about the longevity of ‘hair bands’. If you must show your support for these companies, buy a sticker and put it on your car.

3. Inappropriate symbols; an iron cross. During World War ll. was a symbol of the Nazis. In California it is a popular symbol for West Coast Choppers and Independent Skateboard Trucks. If you are going to spend your entire life in California, never visiting the heartland of America, never leaving the United States and traveling to Europe, go ahead and get what a lot of people still view as a Nazi symbol tattooed on your body.

People will always judge you by your tattoos. You must make a wise decision. The swastika is a Buddhist symbol, dating back thousands of years. In India, women tattoo it on their bodies; it is considered a very auspicious symbol. Hitler got a hold of it and screwed up the symbolism forever. If you want to spend the rest of your life explaining yourself, be my guest.

4. Know what you want. Please don’t come into my shop and tell me that you ‘don’t care’ what I tattoo on you, or that you don’t know what you want, you just want one. I hate it when customers don’t want to do any of their own thinking. They expect me to know what they want, when l don’t even know them. l have offended a customer so much by suggesting that he think for himself that he never returned. I had a friend that had a penisaurus tattoo, which is a dinosaur with penises all over it. I’ve always wanted to do my own version of that, so when people don’t know what they want. l suggest a penisaurus or a vaginasaurus. That is usually enough to kick start them into thinking for themselves. I’ll be happy to exercise my creative input, but you need to supply the foundation. I can run with any idea, but if you want subject matter, I’m going to suggest something outrageous that I will have fun doing. I’ve known my brother my whole life. I can pull out pictures of things that I think he‘d like but until he looks for himself, it is just guesswork. Some customers just want sleeves, but don’t know what they want for subject matter. So what these people are telling me is that they are willing to go through, in some instances, 20 hours of tattoo work for something that they don’t even believe in. It doesn’t make much sense.

5. What is Flash‘? Flash is sets of tattoo designs that shops purchase from artists to display in their shops to sell as tattoos. A lot of flash is mass-produced and you will see a lot of the same stuff in different shops. Different artists in different shops will quote you different prices; look at the photos of their work. The cheapest is not always the best deal. Just because 2 artists bought the same flash does not mean that you’ll get the same quality job. Saving $20 bucks today can cost you years of regret.

Keep in mind that if you do get a flash design, chances are, that somewhere, someone has the same tattoo. If you don’t mind that there are plenty of beautiful designs to choose from. Don’t ask a shop if you can have a copy of a flash design. Shops pay for flash with the understanding that the art therein will only be reproduced as tattoos. What is in it for them‘? Why would someone pay hundreds of dollars for something, only to give it away to everyone who asks‘? That’s just not good business. What is to stop you from taking that design to a potentially dangerous, unclean place and getting an inferior job done‘? This is definitely not what the artist had in mind when he drew the designs. If you’ve chosen your artist well, you should be able to describe the design to him and he’ll draw a better version AND it will be custom. At my shop, the only way an leaves is on your skin, and that is standard practice

l love it when people bring me examples of what they like, but I hate it when people bring me a picture of someone else’s tattoo and want the same design, exactly. I really hate this because I’m sure that when the person posed for that picture he was doing it because he was proud of his artwork and wanted to show it off, not wanting someone with no imagination of their own tojust rip off his idea and design. How sad is that‘? A person cannot have a picture taken of a tattoo that he has that is a personal expression of who he is, perhaps the most personal expression of his individuality, without someone slapping it on his or her body. I will tattoo and re tattoo flash designs on people. That is their purpose. They are public domain and everyone involved with the flash is aware of this. I will never copy exactly a design that I am given if it is a photograph of someone else’s tattoo, unless it is a family tattoo, or one that is in memory of someone who has died, or a club or group insignia.

Cover-ups camouflage old tattoos that for one reason or another the customer doesn‘t want anymore. Another option would be to have the tattoo removed. Most cover-ups are done over names or poorly executed tattoos. Laser removal of tattoos has taken major strides in the last few years and can only get better and cheaper over time. I have had people remove parts of tattoos that they were unhappy with and fixed those parts. For a tattoo to be covered up it must be completely healed. Any scarring, or raised lines will still be there after the cover up. You cannot fix scarring with a cover up you can just disguise it. To try to lessen the scarred area you can try using a product like Mederma, or Scar Ease. Your tattoo must be healed to try these. Although you would think it is, tribal is not a good choice for a cover up because the negative space, or untattooed area is just as important as the tattooed area. Tribal needs to flow and can’t with a big black blob in the middle of it. Flowers, leaves, trees, organic shapes, hair, wings, feathers, any line intensive element in a tattoo can be used to cover up an old, sad tattoo. Many artists will be pretty good at covering old tattoos and will have pictures of this for you to see. You can do a lot when doing a cover-up, but you cannot cover a tattoo with flesh colored ink.

Some of the darker ink underneath will show through. Usually cover-ups are done by misleading the eye into seeing something different by putting a new tattoo over the old using the dark and light areas of the old tattoo.

You can re-work and old tattoo and just freshen it up with a new outline and color, if you are still happy with the design. Personally I like the look of really old tattoos; they remind me of my Grandpa, a career sailor.