Sunday, December 30, 2012

"Smile Now - Cry Later" - An Inside Joke of Lucky 7

Black & Grey "Smile Now / Cry Later" by Russell Fortier @ Lucky 7 Tattoo
Kings Beach-North Lake Tahoe, California. Copyright 2012
Golly gee friends, the year is over!                                                
As 2012 is coming to a close, my family here at Lucky 7 Tahoe is refurbishing the tattoo studio, painting, installing new floor covering as well as adding new displays for our ever growing inventory of jewelry. Happy to say we have a new young and talented tattooer by the name of Cole Knox who has joined our family. Last but not least, I am needing to put some strange rumors to rest. So let us chat for just a moment, shall we?!

Living in Tahoe is all sorts of wonderful for all sorts of reasons I need not bother to list. Yet there are also a few reasons living in a small town can be upsetting. When it comes to speculative gossip, small towns can be terrible. Over the years, Lucky 7 has had some crazy untruths come out of god knows where. One of my least favorites would be from 2004;

Imagine - mid winter, snowy and cold. Every staff member at L7 comes down with the FLU. Fever, chills, dizzy-the real thing. With everyone on the crew so sick, Corey and I decided to close the shop for ONE day. Always concerned with proper business etiquette, we rescheduled our clients by phone. Then I put a message on the answering machine explaining why we did not pick up. Lastly I hung a large poster on the front door explaining that we were all very sick, but would be open the next day as always.
"Smile Russell Fortier @
Lucky 7 Tattoo Tahoe
Copyright 2012

After getting a full 18 hours of sleep, in addition to taking some doctor supplied samples of Tamaflu,  I opened the shop as usual the very next day. Let me tell you-that one day of being closed for illness haunted our business for the next 2 years."Why?" you may ask? Because many people drove by that day, observing that Lucky 7 was closed. Rather than asking us what had happened or reading the poster on the door-some people just ASSUMED we must be having problems and closing down the business! Locals would call and ask if we were still in operation. People came in MONTHS later asking if we were going to be moving.

I proceeded to ask each one of these people why they thought something was wrong? Each and every one said they "saw" or they "heard" it. After a few more questions it all came from closing down for ONE DAY! That was an eye opener I had hoped to never experience again......flash forward to this week and the title of this entry......
Local scratcher  / NOT OUR WORK!

"Smile Now-Cry Later" is the name of a once popular tattoo flash design. The origin of these happy/sad faces comes from the "Masks of Comedy and Tragedy". Sometimes you may see this classic logo in programs from plays. Take a look at the pictures  and I am sure it will ring a bell.

"Smile Now / Cry Later" rework by Corey Boobar @ Lucky 7 Tattoo
Tahoe, California All Rights Reserved
An inside joke at L7 is calling our gift certificates smile now/cry later. Reason is - we would sell thousands of dollars worth of gift certificates at Christmas. Then on December 26th they start coming in like a flood! For weeks we would have the gift certificate customers out numbering our cash clients 2 to 1. So now you get our joke in naming the darn things "smile now / cry later?!?

Neither Corey or I had ever worked in a tattoo shop that offered gift certificates. We figured if folks wanted to buy tattoo time for others, we should issue them. It went very well for 8 or 9 years. The last couple of years the gift certificates had become problematic. Tattoo virgins expected too much ink for not enough money. Meaning the virgin would receive a Lucky 7 certificate for say, $100 from a well meaning loved one. Then arrive at Lucky 7 wanting a tattoo that would take at least 2 hours. We would patiently explain that the custom tattoo design would cost more than the gift amount-  and people became hostile, rude and downright unreasonable. After having more and more of this type of exchange with virgin tattoo customers we made the decision to honor all the gift certificates issued-but to stop issuing any new ones as of November 1st 2012.
CDC style "Smile Now / Cry Later" By Russell Fortier @
Lucky 7 Tattoo N. Lake Tahoe, California Copyright 2012

 As the winter holidays approached we had numerous customers call or stop by to purchase certificates. We explained we were no longer offering them, but gave these folks a few options instead, like prepaid Visa cards, lay away, etc. Seemed like everyone understood why we no longer wanted to offer the certificates....Sadly though, somebody must not have believed us-and has started a UNTRUE RUMOR that " Lucky 7 must be closing down."

This rumor found its way back to the ears of the Lucky 7 staff this week. Lies can hurt a business and its bottom line very quickly. That is why I need to tell all of you that read this blog: Lucky 7  just had our best year since the recession happened in 2008. November of 2012 was the best November Lucky 7 has ever had in 12 years,  we just signed a new long term lease for our building. I have been refurbishing and redecorating to keep the shop a stand out favorite in the tattoo and piercing industry.All is very well for us-thank the gods! Good things have been happening  all year - and will continue in the future.

Therefore, I respectfully ask each of you to help us at Lucky 7, to squash this silly rumor with the truth. Don't go out of your way. Just speak up if this rumor comes up in conversation. That is all it will take to keep this nonsense in check. Crazy how someones assumptions can cause all this fuss!

That being said, I thank all of you for your help. From all of us at Lucky 7, we wish you and yours a fantastic New Year full of happiness, wealth of all kinds - we hope to see you at the shop in 2013.

Blessed Be,


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Change of Seasons, Seasons of Change

"Spartan", our half English Mastiff/half Timber Wolf, enjoying
our North Tahoe Indian Summer
Summer is always a season of hustle & bustle, topped 
with a heaping helping of change here at Lucky 7.

Some change can be fantastic. Like the return of clients who we haven't seen in years - due to the economy rocking their worlds. Change feels good in the fact that L7 is seeing a return to the fantastic number of customers we had before the dreaded "Great Recession" took a hold of our small resort town.

 Exasperating the tough economic years for L7  is/was the over abundance of mostly crappy, upstart tattoo shops opening constantly. They try to lure people in with impossibly low prices. Beside artistic skills, where do these people cut corners- perhaps in their health and safety expenses? Yikes!

 In addition, we had our former apprentice nut up - break his contract and quit during the July 4th weekend. That holiday is the busiest week of the year. This left us woefully short handed the entire season. We were disappointed and somewhat bitter for putting our collective "all" into his tattoo training and giving endless emotional support, then, when we are counting on him to be a team player, we ended up with just another "Generation Me" youngster who didn't honor his end of a traditional tattoo apprenticeship.  

Change has arrived in what piercings are the big sellers during the warmest of seasons. For the past two decades belly button adornment was my bread and butter. Even with the limitations the client has to endure. Such as no hot tubs, restricted swimming, etc. This year, especially this past summer, multipule helix piercing ruled the day. Coming in a close second would be the staying power of micro dermal anchors.
3 Dermal Anchors arching with the contour of clients curvy-ness
By Kindra Henry @ Lucky 7 Tattoo & Piercing
Double Deuce wrist dermals by
Kindra Henry @ Lucky 7 North Lake Tahoe
I believe Dermal Anchors have a long future rather than being a flash in the pan. The versatility of these neat little buggers is a cool addition to an experienced body piercer's arsenal. If carefully placed to avoid friction on jewelry site - there is no limit as to placement. The problems we have encountered usually are from poor care, incomplete care instruction, poor placement, cheap jewelry or having the procedure performed with piercing needles. Also, seems like little kids LOVE to pull on them. So new mothers may want to wait.

3 Point Ear Project
By Kathleen @ Lucky 7 Tattoo- Tahoe
Super cool to see something new come around, light up peoples mind with the possibilities of dermal anchors. I have to say, dermals have been challenging, even fun to learn. Keeping your skills up to date, learning and trying new things keeps us rellavent no matter what we choose as our profession.
Ear projects, such as the very popular Triple Helix piercing have become hugely popular this year  especially this past summer. As piercers, we can thank photo sharing sites such as INSTAGRAM and PINTREST. These pictures places have shown a enourmous amount of people these super cool looks. Not too very long ago, having numerous ear piercings was considered somewhat taboo.  Even as a sign of being loose or a misfit.

 A few smart Jewelry companies have released  pieces that fit the ear cartilage well, with multiple options in size and colors for the ends. As with dermal anchors, healing can be a challenge that most clients have not experienced before. This is simply due to the clients having a more common piercings previously that require care for 2 or 3 months. With ear cartilage being a somewhat slower healing area, then adding multiple piercing sites at one time-it slows the whole healing process down to a trickle. Clients can become tired of the care routine, and be motivated to abandon the piercings - erroniously beleiving the piercings are "infected" and are never going to heal. Its important as their piercer to give as all information regarding the long healing process before the paperwork is signed. Being available for follow up advice during the healing period is also critical. 

Lucky 7 Tattoo artist Russell Fortier enjoying catch and release fly fishing
in North Lake Tahoe "Shoulder Season."
Fall is a slow time for all businesses in North Lake Tahoe. Too cool for the beach and water sports, yet no snow for winter sports. We locals have given this time of year its own handle. "SHOULDER SEASON."

One change I want to make for Lucky 7 is to no longer have Fall be slower in Shoulder Season. To have it match Winter and Spring in client visits. I know that in a resort economy -and  having my shop located on the boarder of the two "slowest states" to recover from the recession, this is a tall order. But I want that change.

I am not going to let the nations economic issues I previously mentioned hold me back from achieving my vision of change. A Positive Mental Attitude, Focus and Drive mixed with a solid plan of action is what my "change" needs to succeed.  Wee bit of luck never hurts either.  Change is good! That's what I tell myself sitting around being mad at change never helps anyone deal with it. Being in CHARGE of change, or being the CAUSE of change feels much better than having it dumped in your lap, as far as I can tell.

A big change on the face, a "MEDUSA" piercing
by Kathleen @ Lucky 7 Tahoe
What are you changing this Fall?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

AB 300: The Safe Body Art Act

Last week I went to a meeting in Auburn to meet with representatives from the Placer County Health Department and other tattoo shops. The purpose? To discuss the new law that went into effect in July: AB 300 known as The Safe Body Art Act. The law is relatively simple, every body art practitioner and facility must register yearly with their county’s health department, and must uphold a set of standards set forth by the law to protect themselves and their clients from risk of infection and exposure to infectious diseases. What does that mean for most tattoo shops and Lucky 7? For the most part, just a little extra paperwork for registration. In actuality, the real purpose of this law is not to go after legitimate tattoo shops, it is to come down on what are called “Scratchers”.

Scratchers are those “artists” who do not work out of a shop, but rather out of their own kitchens, garages, vehicles, and other venues that are not sanctioned for body art. They do not comply to acquiring a business license for body art practices and so their safety practices are not regulated. They bring in clients with lowball prices or offers of barter. In this economy, there will always be consumers looking to get the best deal, but the reason that these scratchers are able to offer such a bargain is because they cut corners with sterilization techniques and/or their tattoo skills are sub-par. Any reputable tattoo artist will be working in a shop, and if they are not, there is a reason behind that. What I ask consumers to do is question why these tattooists are not in a shop, and what is it that they are neglecting in order to make a profit for their tattoos. Most every tattoo shop has a shop minimum. We base that rate on how much it costs us in supplies and sterilization and then still giving the artist money for his time. Regardless of if you get one tiny dot, or a tattoo the size of a quarter, you are still going to pay the shop minimum because you get your own sterile set up with disposable barrier equipment that is only used on you. You get your own sterile bandage. You get your own sterile one time use needle which is disposed of in an approved sharps container and disposed of as biohazard medical waste. We provide you with proper aftercare to ensure that when you leave the shop you can properly take care of your tattoo. These costs accumulate, and we are not willing to risk our customers well-being and health  by overlooking these precautions to save a buck. When a scratcher offers you a tattoo for $40, he is doing the labor for free and dipping into his own pocket to pay the remaining cost of materials, or he is making a profit by neglecting very important exposure control and infectious prevention precautions. Not only is this hazardous, but now with the new law, it is also illegal to practice body art in this environment.

The upside to this law is now these back alley practitioners are subject to large fines and misdemeanor charges, and we welcome our registration fees and inspections now that the health department and local law enforcement have the authority to come down on these scratchers and regulate the industry to ensure that the health and welfare of our consumers and employees is the highest priority. We are talking about people’s bodies and permanent modifications to those bodies. Would you seek medical assistance from an unlicensed practitioner at their house to save some money? Would you queston why they are practicing out of their house instead of a sanctioned medical facility?
We will have to see how this new law plays out, and with that I remind you, Good tattoos aren’t cheap, and cheap tattoos aren’t good.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Popular Piercings and How they Got That Way

All Piercings By Kathleen Langley @ Lucky 7 Tattoo and Piercing, North Tahoe, Ca.
Author Malcom Gladwell has a wonderful book titled "The Tipping Point." One amazing fact I took away from his work in this tome;  how a few "special " people heavily influence fickle humanity toward a product or service. Just a spoken thought or action - what these "special" people may or may not wear, gobble up for lunch, goods and services they personally favor, purchase, etc - others take notice and follow.  Author Gladwell coins these influential consumers "Connectors."   
No amount of advertising dollars or clever social media marketing campaigns can accomplish what these incredible "Connectors" do. Really there is no thought to it on the Connectors part. These people just go through life enjoying themselves, taking in the best of what they find or discover out in the consumer world. Yet the difference between them and the general consumer masses is this: the folks that know these special Connectors look up to them in some way, admire what they know, who they know, and the products they use. Maybe it is admiration or charisma that others are attracted to. Whatever "IT" is these Connectors have - to a business they are very valuable!
Product and service providers cannot buy this "thing" that these certain people possess. 
Surface Piercing near Tragus by Kathleen Langley @ Lucky 7 Tahoe

    As a body piercer just shy of 20 years in my chosen profession, certain years have been very popular for particular piercings. A few of these "trending" piercings were set off by celebrities. When the Aerosmith video for the song "CRYIN" hit the MTV airwaves. Alicia Silverstone went on a coming of age journey in the video, with the highlight being a trip to a body piercer for the cutting edge hoop through her flat 16 year old naughty school girl stomach. Belly button piercings instantly became my bread and butter.
Naval Piercings, "90's Style Hoops" (captive bead rings)  By Kathleen Langley

At the time in the early 1990's - at the bare minimum, 6 of my customers per day requested this cutting edge, midriff adornment. In 2012 the naval piercing have morphed into a right of passage for the 16 to 18 set. Marking important birthdays. In marking their 18th birthday, belly piercings mark "not needing Ma or Pa's permission any longer" to do what they like to their own temple. For other ladies over 18, many come in for a belly barbell after a painful divorce from a controlling man. Or perhaps after working on their fitness, getting a more toned bod, wanting to show off a sexy new core. No matter the decade, or the decade of life these woman are in - the example is set by the trendsetters of their peer group.
"Evolution of the Naval Piercing"- Triple Naval Piercing by Kathleen Langley @ Lucky 7 Tattoo & Piercing-Lake Tahoe
     The last 2 years at Lucky 7 we have had an explosion of what I like to call "hardcore ear project" piercings. Not your average "double lobe" or ear rim. clients are asking for piercings that are crazy to see, yet tucked away under hair as to not upset bosses or parents paying for college. Executing these projects takes me to the limit of my skill set-and I dig the challenge!

Cheek/Dimple Piercing by Kathleen @ Lucky 7 Tahoe

On the t.v. program "Brett Micheal's Rock of Love" , one of the contestants rocked pierced cheeks.  Well, once this rare dimple style hardware was noticed, it took off like a rocket! This is a difficult piercing to do-as the area is hard to reach with fingers or tools. Plus, saliva glands can be damaged with the procedure quite easily. Each of my clients know the pitfalls BEFORE i pick up the needle. Many decided against having it done after knowing the details. But look at my beautiful chipmunk cheeked model with hers. Gorgeous!
"Miss Spear" wearing a "Triple Orbital" ear rim piercing By  Kathleen Langley
Lucky 7 Tattoo and Piercing North Lake Tahoe, Ca.
The orbital piercing is another challenge. Must be measured perfectly, as well as using 3 one inch needles. A needle prick waiting to happen! Clients must be informed of a long healing period. In addition, these multiple site piercings can take a year or more to heal all the way. In 2002 I had a client with so many of these piercings she had to sleep with her head laying on a round pillow with a hole in the middle to avoid discomfort! Now that is some dedication to the lifestyle! Many piercers will tell the customers to get 3 seperate rim piercing with 3 individual hoops to heal in. Then after initial healing, try and switch to the style of jewelry to the type seen here. I do not use this method, as I want the jewelry to work with the angles I create using measuring and the way I tilt the needles. This creates the least amount of friction for a lifetime of wear.
  Miss Spears wearing this piercing will create demand at her school this year. She will be the one to follow, to set the fashion. And I thank the Gods and Goddesses that business is good from CONNECTORS like her and all the young ones featured in this post. So do something new, be creative, and lets stick some new metal in ya!   Kathleen Langley L7T2

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Naughty Nigerian Email Scams, Computers and the Modern Tattoo Shop.

Crazy to think just 11 years ago we didn't even have a computer of any kind in Lucky 7 Tattoo. No previous shop I had worked in or owned had any type of computer. Not until 1998 did my boss in Sac Town even buy a copier for the business. Staff had to jog 3 blocks to Kinko's, enlarge or reduce the image, then run back the way we came. Dripping with sweat and panting apologies to the waiting client. After years of this foot race for the shop girls - one hot and smoggy afternoon in July -  my boss had to make this Kinko's trip himself  (for his first and last time.) At that turning point he decide to crack open his money clip and call the I.B.M. salesman.

Up until a few years ago, a great deal of the tattoo designs were either sheets of "flash", which are large pieces of white paper with anywhere from 1 to dozens of drawings of tattoo patterns -usually grouped together by similarities, like all butterflies, etc.. Each shop had  many of these "flash sheets" on hand, drawn by the shops artists.In older street shops, some or even all of these sheets were purchased from supply companies to the tattoo trade. Needed too were books. These were a huge investment, yet very necessary and a vital supply to have for reference. At the very top of the tattoo shop heap were the artists who would draw each design from scratch. Difficult in the best of circumstances, doing the best you could to have the customer describe what they saw in their minds eye, then to have them explain the tattoo in terms you can follow and create on paper. At the time the designs requested were at least simpler than today. Most tattoos followed the straight ahead traditional Americana patterns of bold lines, simple details -tried and true designs that had been around forever.
Flash By Corey Boobar, 2001
Everything changed last decade, at least on the forward thinking West Coast. As extensive tattooing became more seen in public, and true artist's with a love for the medium joined the ranks, new thinking opened up the tattoo industries creative mind. One of a kind tattoos became the "it" ink to have. Picking a design off the wall of the shop was deemed "not cool" and "thoughtless". The public at large decided each tattoo must have "meaning". For tattooers who worked at the art it was a somewhat welcome and challenging change. For the 'Biker Bob's" of the tattoo world, who had only been able to trace the predetermined flash designs of the past, were shit out of luck. The either evolved or perished - most sinking in to the shame of the latter.
Flash by Ben Karnofsky, 2011
With small computers coming on line to almost everyone in the new millennium - hard and fast - it helped tattoo artists and their customers tremendously. Not only with all kinds of  information at their fingertips to aid in the design of ink but also in finding good tattoo shops and their artists. Only a decade ago most people in search of a tattooer just picked a place near their home. Or looked up "tattoo parlors" listed in the phone book yellow pages. Yeesh, that is scary. Now each and every week we receive a new client from Yelp or another Social Media site. You can pick up your smart phone and see the style and vibe of an artist work. Or see what others have said about a shop and their personal experience with the staff. That is cool! A good deal of appointments, the prep work that goes in to the design, etc are done online through email. This helps our guys at Lucky 7 get the design kinks worked out before an appointment.The client doesn't have to keep stopping by to make suggestions or request changes. That makes the artist and the client much happier.
Flash By Russell Fortier, 2004

So this all loosely leads up to my Nigerian Scam story. I, as I am sure many of you, have had an unsolicited email or two arrive to our inbox. Telling some story of sadness from across the ocean. Many times it is from someone who claims to be very rich and very important, perhaps even a "government official". But darn their bad luck, even with all their riches and connections they need YOU to "help" them out of a jam. Which, after you "help" them out of their jam, you will receive thousands of dollars! All by cashiers check!

Starting about 6 years ago Lucky 7 received an email offer of outstanding proportions. The author of the email wrote in that clipped, slang version or proper English with many misspellings. The subject line directing me to "PAY ATTENTION AT ONCE!!!". Doing as I was told I cracked open the body of the email to learn the Nature of what this person wanted from Lucky 7:
 He was going to be sending a cashiers check, made out to Lucky 7, in the amount of $5100. He is the manager of a "very famous musical group" coming to play my area in 5 months time. The band members would arrive one by one in a limousine. Each band member wanted a tattoo. The tattoo designs requested were as followed: "Clocks, houses, MOMS, bicycles and songbirds." As there are 11 members of the band, and the cashiers check was made out for "too much money", I should send a cash refund of $2900 immediately after Lucky 7 received the band managers cashiers check. Um......WOW...

Obviously this clown was trying to trick bag me and Lucky 7. We received this email, in one version or another, at least 15 more times over the years with a slight variation or 2 in the "Tattoo Designs" requested by "THE MUSICAL GROUP". What I usually would send as an answer was:


Funny, I never got an answer or response from the musical group manager. Sometimes I like to ponder what others do in response to these emails. One great soul turned the tables on these guys, made the "Nigerian Church Official" get a tattoo to prove his devotion to the "church" in America who was going to send the Nigerian lots of money for his "Earthquake Relief Efforts". Go to if you want the whole funny story. Brilliant stuff!  Toodles kids!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

“So Long Dolphins, Tribal Arm Bands and Lower Back Tattoos…Hello Inside Fingers!”

“So Long Dolphins, Tribal Arm Bands and Lower Back Tattoos…Hello Inside Fingers!”

Thought I would take us all back through a couple of decades of what has been “In & Out” as far as trends in the tattoo industry. Let us see where we have traveled, stayed awhile, then said a fond “fair well” to.
Tattooing as well as piercing has hit quite the stride in the last 6 years. Meaning it is trendy and soared in popularity. Tattooing in the United States has boomed before, yet never like this.  That’s why there is an over supply of walk in shops and new “tattooers” everywhere you turn. The current situation will right it self over time. Shops that under serve clients with mediocre tattoos and piercing will fumble along and quietly close when the surge slows. Those who are great at what they do with rise to the top like cream, and continue to grow in skills, attracting customers along the way.

While this has all been happening tattooing and piercing trends have come and (thankfully) gone. Designs and ideas that once were very popular and a “must have”- then after a few years time burned itself out and left many with something they dig. That reminds them of a time and place in their life - or sadly- a decision made in haste and looking more dated then a pair of Sassoon High Waist Mom Jeans.

Back in the early 1990’s as shops started to be less “Biker Bobs” and younger, hipper artists and spaces sprouted up, a surge of “New Skool” designs began to develop. This style of tattoos took the tried and true staple of “Americana” tattoos that had been around forever and spun them with modern color palates, edgy design ideas and developed familiar yet a completely new feeling about them. Tattoo Artists themselves dug creating traditional styles without it seeming to be just like everything else that had been done the last 50 years. The public saw that tattoos could be something different than the same old same old they have seen forever. Over the next 5 years these tattoos broke open the pre-conceived fixed beliefs of what could be tattooed.
Graffix Bong Logo 1990's by Corey Boo

By the year 2000 these “gotta have it” -  new style ink had waned. What had once seemed crazy and cool didn’t age so well. Looked a bit silly on a middle aged man working at Whole Foods. But it had served a great purpose of getting everyone out of the rut of the same styles since the Korean War. This art is still gracing the flash racks and watercolor paintings of many a shop. Free standing “tits with bones” and “kewpie doll heads in roses” will be a part of most new artist programs forever. Coming up with these types of funky ideas and art are the second rung of the ladder in developing basic street shop skill sets this class of artists need.

In the mid 90’s Little Green Men, Alien Heads and their spaceships had a solid 3 year run. Aliens were always colored some shade of green, shaped with pointy chins and enormous, empty black almond shaped eyes. Customers made this sticker type tat a  prominent part in sleeves of the lower arm. Seemed to be favored by young males under 24 years of age who fostered a deep affection for Graphix Water pipes - and that never met a sack of weed they didn’t like. Side note: I once worked with a chick who’s primary tattoo artist  was famous for his well executed alien tattoos. This co worker decided she wanted a Vargas style female pin up on her upper arm. Sadly the pin up tattoo head looked pretty much like an alien head with human features. This design did not come out as she had hoped. She knew it, I knew it, yet it went unspoken that she had a pin up with the skull of an alien. So, like most trends,  by the year 2000 these designs had completely disappeared from flash racks.

During the Clinton Presidency “Bio Mechanical” aka “BIOMEC” for you hip kids out there - became the “IT“ tattoo for fellas. This design style of “robot innards” being seen through torn away human skin looked wicked bad ass in the years of TERMINATOR movies. Like tearing apart your dads first COMPAQ computer, peering in to see what makes it tick. A few very creative artists took this to a crazy level, imagining entire limbs of their clients body as a futuristic nightmare. Well executed and containing more ins and outs than a Pat Fish Celtic back piece. So that it seemed as if their clients body and some crazy humanistic mechanics were fused. 
Some Biomec Flash

Then we have the scratchers who sadly attempted this very difficult style, hacking  people to bits…..making a sad attempt to further their “tattoo skills.” These poor folks who asked the under skilled tattooers for what they clearly were not capable of got terrible tattoos that you could not even hedge a guess as to what the tattooer was trying to convey with the design. Those attempts at mechanical realism brought the whole trend to a crashing halt. Now and then I will hear about an artist in Ohio or Delaware that “kicks ass” at Biomec….and I always thing about how great that would have been…… 14 years ago.

Being a water sign myself, I have always had an attraction to the sea and other bodies of water. Doesn’t matter how cold, windy, rainy, whatever. If water is nearby I want to go and wade knee deep or watch it while sipping on a cold water or hot coffee. Something primal in me digs it…any how I guess that’s why I can relate to folks who desire dolphin tattoos. The certainly come across as friendly creatures from the sea, kinda like the “dog of the oceans.” Man’s friend on cruise ships and ship wrecks. In tattoo designing dolphins can also be made into various secondary designs such as hearts and yin / yang’s. Seems pretty simple….but our ocean friends certainly are not easy to tattoo and make them look good. Matter of fact some of the worst tattoos I have seen are poorly done are dolphins. Monochromatic with one bright blue swipe of pigment - no highlights or contrast. Zero consideration or thought to the creatures expression or movement. EEK. Well, these gracefully mammals had a great ride appearing on ankles, lower backs and shoulders for about 6 years….but now they sadly have been pushed into the “not too cool” category by the very women who use to get weepy eyed over the “mother and baby dolphin swimming” flash.
Dolphin Tattoo Fix-Up by Corey Boobar

In the 90’s, Chinese Symbols, or KANJI were inked on occasion. Customers working on sleeves that resembled patch work quilts liked to cram that design type in areas with very little room for something bigger. These symbols were around most shops, but having a large collection on hand not very common. By 2000, they suddenly became THE TATTOO. No lie, at Lucky 7 we inked a minimum of 3 a week, and that is when it was off season, with only 2 full time artist working. When this tattoo started to catch fire Lucky 7 took extra time to research where to buy flash designs we could trust. That all the symbols meant what the person who produced the flash sheets said. However not every shop was that ethical….far too many customers ended up with “Chicken Chow Mein” rather than the “Serenity” or “Love” they had dreamed of. In addition to these misbegotten words, poor execution of the brush stroke used to build the symbols could mistakenly turn a character that was suppose to mean “Family”, and morph that into “Fornicator.” Furthermore it seems that some Asian people delighted in scaring black, middle class kids in sushi joints by telling them the design meant something completely different than what they had thought when the tattoo was inked. Funny, but mean. So by 2004 these clean little tats were everywhere and became too mainstream for the trendsetters and followers to want any longer. We do have one client with a sleeve who got a couple of them that were very funny. One said “Golden Shower” and the other said “Fecal Matter.” Now that’s comedy!
By Ben Karnofsky

And finally we have the Grand Daddy of trendy. The number one with a bullet! Can you guess what it is? I know some of you were wondering if I was going to bring it up, some of you have completely erased it from your minds, and other may still secretly want one. We are talking about the Tribal ARM Band.

Tribal had been creeping into the 90’s at a slow and steady rate since the late 80’s. A few well known and talented tattoo artists brought this style to the attention of their customers. Many people who didn’t care much for the traditional Americana tattoos “clicked” with the well executed clean line work, body forming aesthetics and the way the tattoo could represent “something“, though  the designs were not  straight forward images. Now you could get a  cool design that was new and original…..until it caught on with the sports crowds.
Tribal Arm Band Flash

A few sports stars chose tribal to be a “rebel“ in their leagues. Once that action took place look the hell out! These sports stars were seen every weekend by lots of male fans nationwide, so an explosion of tribal arm bands began. Easy to cover for work, yet looked good hanging out it bars with a cut off sleeve t shirt. Adding gasoline to the inferno was George Clooney. Rocking a very large tribal piece that crept its way on to Georges neck in the movie “From Dusk Til Dawn.” 

The ladies were not left out of this party either. Some females opted for a smaller, thinner more delicate looking version of the guys tribal arm bands - (with the section under the arm missing because it hurt too much there.) In these feminine designed bands  flowers, hearts or their beloveds name in tiny letters were added….which I believe morphed into what many call the lower back “Tramp Stamp” - I prefer the name “California License Plate.” Sounds classier some how…This hybrid design style located ,near a ladies undies, shot out like a cannon. Everywhere you looked low rise jeans and g strings were giving way to an abundance of ink splashing out each time a lady kneeled down in front of you.
Sometimes it looked amazing, but sometimes it hurt the eyes. Especially when the carrier and/or the ink were not put together too well. Catch my drift.!?!
Once again a backlash began around 2004. For the men, a few clever beer commercials made them feel bad about their once “cool” band. Shirt sleeves were no longer lifted in victory when asked “ Do you have any tattoos?” by drunk, divorced single mothers at the local watering hole. Now the defeated ESPN junkies slowly replied “ Yeah, but I am going to cover it up with a big family crest soon, so I don’t want to show it to anyone.
Family Crest by Lucky 7
For females the tribal art tattoos held on loosely a bit longer. Lower back tats still had an element of tribal. However it was thinned into more of a filigree or vine look. Hawaiian flowers, bluebirds and banners began to grace the center, etc…yet the dye was cast when too many d list celebrities, over the hill porn stars and Saturday Night Live skits had the tramp stamp emerge as part of their look or joke. So, like a 70’s tube top they were put away, no longer wanted - as well as many chicks second guessing whether it should have been donned at all. “Did I ever really think it looked good wearing it?!”

I still love the lower back tattoos. The area is perfect for small or large ideas. Large flat canvas with only a bit of curve. Tattoos peeked out only if you looked at the wrong/right moment. Furthermore a great deal of woman were afraid getting any tattoo until this area became popular. Weight gain and loss doesn’t affect the overall look of the ink. Yet it will take another decade at the least to let the current stigma wear off enough to let it come back around in the great glory it once enjoyed.
Lower Back Tattoo

Hey, thanks for reading. Would love to hear from you about the trends you saw come and go in the last decade or 2.    Kathleen @ Lucky 7 tattoo & Piercing