Monday, November 18, 2013

Portfolios of Tattoo Artists - 7 Attributes To Look For

Digital or static portfolios are the most important truth teller any artistic service professional can possess.

 When I went to get "new and improved" breasts back in 2004 I fully realized how significant pictures were to my decision in picking the doctor for my "rack increase". Before this revelation I had never picked a professional to do a job that I had not worked with first. Therefore I had never been through the chores of choosing.

In anticipation of getting my new bosom I booked 3 consultation appointments with 3 plastic surgeons who had been recommended to me.

The first 2 doctors were cocky, assumptive and overly self assured. In fact the second physician seemed dismissive of my ability to even pay him the full amount for the consultation. My expectations of a physical exam or a professional attitude were not met. Nor was I shown even one example of their previous work.

My expectations were low for consultation number 3. I started to believe that plastic surgeons all acted like old, bald rock stars or stuck up tattooers for that matter. Glad to say that the "3rd time was the charm" for my search. Dr Murphy in Reno was a gentleman. Let me ask my list of questions. Explained why it was not a good idea to make his incision through my arm pits. Best of all he had tons of photos of his previous work. 99% good boob jobs with happy patients in the photos. And a couple snapshots of a few that had not gone well for various reasons. 

I admire anyone who can own up to their own imperfect performance as a human being. Too many so called professionals pretend they never make even the slightest mistake at anything they do. In my mind, by Dr Murphy showing me the few bad with the overwhelming good, he won me over. He exceeded my expectations - and I get compliments to this day on my figure improvement.

So it is with this spirit in mind I wanted to provide you with a short guide as to what to look for in the portfolio of a tattoo artist. For more in depth information on shop and artist selection please see the other earlier entries in this blog.

  1. Line work that is steady, consistent and even though out the design.      Look closely at the boarder surrounding each piece of the entire design. These lines should be uniform in thickness or thinness. Flowing from one stroke to the next with balance and uniformity. You should not see where the needle has been applied to the skin to start the line itself.                                                                
    Sharpie Examples of Uniformity and Balance (or lack thereof)
  2. Tattoo Designs that have Symmetry.         Does the mouth on animal designs look too large for their face? Proportions seem somehow off? Do letters in a word all seem slightly larger and smaller as the eye travels its length? With designs that have exact uniformity,  say a 5 point star -is it a mirror image in each component of all its parts? Pay careful attention to symmetry. Where there is a little of it on other peoples tattoos, you can expect the same half hearted work on your ink. Inexperience is usually the cause of it. Do not be one more customer this tattooer cuts his teeth on.                              
  3. Varied Styles of Different Tattooing.      I myself love American traditional tattoos. I am personally covered from throat to feet in these crisp, bulky designs. Yet when I see a portfolio that contains nothing but traditional I take special notice. This says to me the portfolios owner is not comfortable showing a possible customer how good or bad they are at other types of more complicated tattoo designs. It is an attempt to manipulate your information gathering. This tattooer prefers to do the minimum amount of work for their money. While this is not a crime - it is a red alert to avoid this tattoo provider unless you want a standard, monotone straight from the rack flash tattoo design. Tattoo Artist with a specialty like black and gray portraits will still demonstrate other styles they are capable of inking. This shows confidence in their trade. Therefore hoping to earn your business.                                                                                                                                           
  4. A Simple RED HEART is ANYTHING but Simple.    Even the smallest and simplest tattoos can have a stunning amount of vibrancy. A customer may ask for " A tiny red heart on my bum." A talented artist will carry the request - but will go beyond the simple request to exceed the expectation of the customer. Does the little heart have a highlight to the round tops? Can you tell that a few different shades of red and pink were blended together to create subtle nuances - creating more shape than just the black outline provides? Attention to the simplest designs tells you the artist cares about everything he puts his name on. THAT is a good thing!      
    "MOM" Heart with Rose By Russell Fortier
    Lucky 7 Tattoo Tahoe
  5. Match the Portfolio to a Single Tattooer.      This is a more recent development in low rent tattoo shops. One large photo album that is suppose to represent the entire staff. See it as a red flag to walk away. You have a shop owner who only cares about making money. Once again this is done to deceive you by omitting information you can use to make an educated choice in WHO in that shop is good (if anyone actually is). You are being sold false hope that everyone who tattoos in that location is equal. NONSENSE. There is no such thing as an "easy" tattoo. IF your tattoo artist cares about their work, having pride and self satisfaction - they will gladly take clear pictures and display them.                 
    Black and Grey Angel By Russell Fortier        Day of the Dead Pin-up Face By Corey Boobar
    Lucky 7 Tattoo Tahoe
  6. Digital is Great - However Photo Paper is Better.     I am sure to get a few miffed emails regarding this one. Yet I must advise you the best way I know how. Online sites are wonderful for the shear ease it can be to upload pictures of your work. Potential customers can sit around anywhere they please and browse an artists work. The web is a great tool to weed out who you do not want to bother with in person. However is no substitute for a static leather bound portfolio with plastic sleeves to hold photo paper photography.  Matter of fact, I want you to reach under the plastic, feel the paper to make sure it hasn't been cut out of a magazine. See if  the weight seems appropriate? Any artist who is proud of their abilities will gladly flip their book to certain pages - showing you what they have created for other clients. It takes time, will and money to get photos printed from a store. That is a good sign of someone who cares to show you their best and has done little or nothing on Photoshop type editing programs to trick you.                                                                                                                        
  7. Do Not Be Impressed By A Massive Number of Photos.   One of my favorite tattoos I got from a tattooer who had half a dozen photo albums in his lobby. Now I knew the guy and his work for a while before I had gone into his shop. So the number of photos did not impress me-his actual tattooing did. Since that time I have wandered into a few situations where a tattooer had the approach of quantity over quality. Reams of endless poor images,  quite blurry or poorly focused. Numbers of them written upon with ballpoint pen to explain what you are looking at!?! At times I would feel the need to take a quick cat nap trying to get through the heft of it all. Again, a bit of trickery is going on. The tattooer is taking photos of everything he does, which makes no sense really. Talented tattooers will take photos of work they are exceptionally proud of. Or perhaps of tattoos they know clients will find marvelous for one reason or another. As the portfolio grows to enormous for additional pages for its rings - they edit out older photographs to add the newer ones. Putting the old photos away for safe keeping - to pull out for a specific situation. Do not be dazzled with by the volume. Be cognizant of possible trickery.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
As I have said with any other list of advisement I have created about tattooing or piercing - always trust your gut. If you have doubts about the ability of a tattoo artists skills then wait. No matter how desperately you desire the piece that very moment. Regret is easy to come by when preparation and planning is tossed aside for speed.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

" 7 Good Reasons To Get Tattooed or Pierced Today."

You have thought about a particular tattoo design you totally dig for the last 2 years. Every time you venture out beautiful-and not so beautiful-inked skin is peaking out from under clothing. Your cool tattoo concept is beckoning to you silently... "Gee- wouldn't it look great on your forearm."

Perhaps you ran in to a friend - while chatting you see her dazzling new inner ear piercings with tiny glimmering jewels. It looked so darn cute on her! The mental pictures of those piercings are on your mind for days. Wondering if a new body adornment like your friends' may attract attention to your sleek, graceful neck.

Lets go down the list of good reasons to go ahead and dip your toes into the modification of your body / your temple.

1.Enjoyment of the art form itself                                                                                                      Seems like every one of us out there in the big bad world has their own story of when they first became fascinated with tattoos or body piercing. Sometime in our childhood we caught sight of an adult rocking something cool on their skin. We become entranced, then more aware of all the folks walking around the world with these cool alterations. As we grow into teenagers the thought of having are own body mods becomes as reality. If you were one of us, kids who never stopped being attracted tho ink and metal - you get the green light to go right ahead and get some work. Safe to say you have an appreciation that hasn't waned. You won't regret getting work - as long as its GOOD work. which leads us to....
"Mom" Heart Tattoo Stencil
2.You have done your research on shops and artists / piercers                                                 
This is a HUGE, time consuming step. Yet it is the most important one you can make. First, ask friends, coworkers and peoples who have work you admire where and who does their tattoos and piercings. Then, look up those shops online. Does the shop have an over all positive online reputation? Is there an artist on staff with a portfolio of work you respect for its craftsmanship and artistry? Very good, now head on down to that shop and meet the artist. Is he into your idea, or acting moody or bored? If things go well, step up and get started. If you are not feeling the energy of the artist or the shop they work in time to go back to the computer for more research.

3.Supporting a Loved One, Cause you Care About / Altruism                                                Don't misunderstand me, you can get tattoos and piercings for no reason at all. Gods know I have a hundred of those myself. "Just because" is a good enough reason when you like ink and metal. Nevertheless coming together as a group or family to mark a life event of importance with a permanent design on you body is very fulfilling in an indescribable way. The emotional bonding can be empowering for all involved. Almost like a little high develops between all those marked for the event - no matter joyous or saddening. Pink ribbons have been a tattoo Lucky 7 has done dozens of times. Ribbons with a newborns birthday and footprints are a lovely way to symbolize your family's' growth. What great mark can you share with your tribe for a big life event?
Mother/Daughter Nostril Piercings
by Kathleen Langley-Fortier and Kindra Acker
Lucky 7 Tattoo-North Lake Tahoe
4.Covering an old scar or a tattoo you never liked 
Somewhere on our layer of dermis lies a nick, cut or surgical scar. Some folks are never bothered by these marks along life's rough road.  Others can not stand the idea of some part of their body they dislike glaring at them daily, like a toothache. Is it not wonderful that we can bury these tears in our skin with the beauty of tattooing or jewelry? Good to know you can usually tattoo over a scar after only 9 months of healing the area. With old tattoos we no longer care for, they can be re imagined into something fresh you will like much better. Or perhaps they can be completely covered with a completely different design? Please see my other blog entry on cover ups for concise information on what can be done in your case.
Cover Up Tattoo
By Russell Fortier
Lucky 7 Tattoo-North Lake Tahoe
5.Modification to Help You Embrace an Area of your body You don't Like                               
 I love when clients make a choice to ink up an area of their bodies they dislike. So empowering! I for one have a few areas of my genetic construction I have never cared for. Rather than opt for a surgeons knife I have embraced those zones with colorful,  traditional pin ups. Makes me happy every time I see those big buxom ladies of past fashions emblazoned on my hide. What a great way to reset your brain to like an area of you body that use to drive you a bit nutty.
Traditional Cowboy Pin up
 By Russell Fortier
Lucky 7 Tattoo-North Lake Tahoe
6.Sex and Sexuality Can be Better with Piercings and Tattoos                                                            Perhaps you  have glimpsed some photo erotica that displays partners with genital piercings? Or some very phallic tattoo on a mans genitals. Well, in many cases these erotic piercings and tattoos can be a turn on for the person wearing them or their lucky partner encountering the artwork. A great deal of the excitement of coupling comes from the minds eye, rather than just the physicality of the moments together. A great many of the  public would be shocked to know who among them might have something a little "extra" in their undergarments! A few of the extreme piercings can be painful. Yet most are no more painful than a nose piercing.

7.In This Day and Age, We CAN get tattooed and pierced Without Judgement  
In 1985, when I had just turned 18 I craved a tattoo like a 5 year old craves candy! Off to San Francisco I went with a friend. On Broadway, I walked into a totally 80's biker shop - somewhat scared and wary of the staff. My treatment by these folks was less than polite- with the finished work lacking the cool look I had asked for. Once I got home my mother came unhinged with anger! How dare I "desecrate the temple God gave me! Only guys in the military and easy girls get tattoos." Blah de f@#$%*n Blah.
Well that was not too fun for my first time. Lots of negatives stacking up against me just for getting a small tattoo.
Thank the GODS once again this is no longer the case. As Mickey Knox said in Natural Born Killers: "Life is about choices...."                                                 It is delightful that we have so many good choices to select from . No more do we have to choose only from bikers and foul tempered wanna be rock stars. Great tattooers and piercers reside and work near you. Or may be located in an area you love to visit. The bottom line is, you do not have to settle!

Thanks for reading kids. Remember, your loyal Lucky 7 Tahoe staff is available to help and guide you through your tattoo or piercing process. Find us everywhere online, call or email at once.

Friday, November 8, 2013

" 7 Reasons Why You Should NOT Get Tattooed or Pierced " (at least not for the time being)

 Every one of us in the English speaking world has had the following little bit of pseudo wisdom bellowed at us in a life defining moment- this golden oldie  - this sadly moronic and quite over used rally cry :   " You only live once!"  Usually it is barked at us by so called friends who want us to follow in their treacherous footsteps. Doing something completely stupid, dangerous and possibly life altering. In many cases, liquor has been consumed, or we have not matured out of wearing superhero underwear. Therefore our decision making skills are under developed. By our partners in crime announcing "You only live once", it circumvents our "fight or flight" instinct - helping us make a move. Many times the wrong one we may regret later

2 happy, beautiful and smart young ladies
 w/ new septum piercings
done by Kathleen @ Lucky 7 Tahoe
14kt Yellow Gold OHM
Nostril Screw - Custom
Bend to fit
In this current social climate of  having zero patience,  the "I WANT IT NOW" mentality, many folks- especially youngsters - dive in to tattooing and piercings with almost no forethought to how it can affect every aspect of their future. Especially when it comes to their employment and social standing. These days the world has had so much more exposure to the entire scope of body modifications. No longer are homemade tattoos lumped in with beautiful Japanese panels. Quality and care in body modifications shows and can be appreciated. The public as a whole will look at your tattoos, judge their quality and the story they tell. Passing silent thoughts of admiration or judgement about you.

In the interest of helping you make the correct decision for yourself and your future, I offer the following list of solid questions to contemplate BEFORE you rush out to get work done. You choices in this moment can and will affect your future. It may place LIMITS on your available choices in the future.
"Panda Munching Bamboo" by Russell Fortier
@ Lucky 7 Tattoo & Piercing

  1. Someone is "making" you. If someone in your life is pushing you toward ANYTHING in a forceful or coercive manner do not do it. Especially when it is a permanent change to your being. Never be forced to "prove" anything to anyone who says they care about you-period.
  2. Depression or pain is prominent in daily life. Some of the worst choices we make for ourselves is when we do not feel good for whatever reason. You do not want to walk around with a permanent reminder of that terrible time in your life. Scaring your body will not help you heal. Get help for what ails you before doing something you may regret later. Wait to make big life decisions when you are at your best mentally and physically. No matter if it take 2 weeks or 2 years. Those super cool ideas your currently have will still be there when you are feeling better.
  3.  Your pain tolerance is very low. With piercing, this isn't as much an issue-unless you desire a complicated, multiple point piercing project. Almost all of us can handle a few seconds of mild discomfort that can occur with a well executed, much desired piercing. However, when it come to tattooing, pain tolerance - or lack there for of- WILL have a huge impact on various components to receiving a quality tattoo. Imagine how disconcerting it will be for your tattoo artist - to have created an awesome tattoo design - only to have its application come out poorly due to your own behavior. Moving around, moaning and being a pain in their ass in no way helps your artist to do the job you hired them to do. No one can perform at their best when their customer is being difficult. No matter the cause. Know your limits kiddo. Sample the pain with a small or dainty design before biting off a big slice of the pie. 
  4. You ALWAYS Have to Have the Newest & The Best est Thing. If you are trendy, always having to have the newest, hippest designer goodies I say pass on the body modifications. You may be happy for a short amount of time, taking pleasure in the NEWNESS of the modification. But once some time has passed, or someone says "Oh my friend has an Infinity knot on her wrist just like your." dismay will replace the high of the new purchase. You will no longer feel special or fulfilled by your tattoo or piercing. Stick with haircuts or handbags. 
    "Male Lion Head" by Corey Boobar &
    Lucky 7 Tattoo & Piercing
    Lake Tahoe, California
  5. Will your Family Cut you Off?  No tattoo or piercing is worth having your family disown you. When Grandmother says she will not pay for college if you get tattoos just WAIT! Being grown up, having to pay for everything in your life is over rated! Do not offend your blood by rebelling with ink and metal. Once you have broken their hearts it sure will be hard to put the pieces back together. If you really, really want the tattoo, you will still want it in 4 years. And hell, in four years with a degree in hand you may find.....  
  6. Employment Opportunities Depend on How You Look. Having a degree is great. However, its only one piece of your employee package. Do you think a tattoo on your neck is going to be a problem when applying for an entry level management position? You bet it is! Even the entry level jobs at fast food restaurants do NOT allow their employees to have more than a couple piercing in each ear. What makes you think some big boss is going to hire you,  paying  40 K a year when you look like you should be turning a wrench at Jiffy Lube?!? No matter how popular tattoos and modern piercings have become, their is still a stigma for those of us who choose to wear them. Have your game plan for income in place before getting hardcore with your modification placements.
  7. You Have Not done ANY research into Tattoo Artists, Body Piercers OR Shops. Put the brakes on Right This Minute! Walking in to the closest shop to your pad is rolling the dice with you looks and health! Ask a few people with good looking, healed work. Use Google Places for reviews. Check a few places out in person. Read my blog entries with shop selection suggestions - ANYTHING to assure yourself you will receive great work, in a fun yet professional atmosphere. Tattooers have a reputation for acting like rock stars - even when their tattoo skills suck. Do you want to spend hours of your time and lots of your hard earned cash with someone who acts like a horses ass? Who does not care about his work- because he just turns and burns that shops customers with crappy work all day - then moves on to the next crappy shop 5 miles down the road when word gets out about how bad the work is at his old shop....

"Filigree, Rose with Skull" by Russell Fortier
@ Lucky 7 Tattoo
Lake Tahoe, Ca.
(thanks S.W.)

Did my questions get you thinking? GOOD! Food for thought my darlings....

Coming up next in Lucky 7's Blog...."7 Reasons Why You Should Get a Tattoo & Piercing"


 Need some answers to your specific questions regarding what you want in a tattoo or piercing? Email me at - I and my staff will do our best to help.