Editor’s note: Given the changes that have occurred in tattooing – and the numerous enthusiasts that have made regrettable decisions in tattoo artist/subject selection – we’re looking to shed light not only on where to get a good tattoo, but how to get rid of a bad one.
I’ll let Michael Driver take over from here.
This whole thing started back when I was 19 or 20 and had my first experiences with laser tattoo removal. I had rushed out and gotten a sleeve off some dude I can’t even remember the name of within my first few weeks of being 18. After a year or so, I began to realize that it was pure shit–a standard dumb kid move, but it got me to where I am now, I guess.
While I was going through it, I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about laser tattoo removal and ended up quizzing the doctors and nurses doing the treatments. I realized that, most of the time, they didn’t know what they were doing.
It took about a year and a half for me to finish the necessary courses and training. During my practical training I got the feeling that this was going to be a big thing for tattoo culture on the whole, not just the mid-30’s soccer mum regretting her tramp stamp.
It was cool how many tattooers and tattoo collectors came to me, asking that I lighten older tattoos so they could free up space for newer, ‘good’ ones.
My friend Mitch Love and I were talking after a show in Brisbane one night and he mentioned that Matt Cunnington (owner of Westside Tattoo) was interested in having a chat with me about working together.
This was basically a dream come true. I had been getting tattooed there regularly for the last four years and consider it one of the best shops in the country–not to mention a lot better than other shops that had offered me a position at the time. After a few phone calls with Matt (and a lot of phone calls to the health department) I started working out of Westside Tattoo a few months later.
Business was quite slow at first; we were one the first shops in the country offering laser tattoo removal, and it was relatively new to most people.
Things started picking up after numerous other tattoo shops starting sending people our way. A lot of younger kids that made the same mistakes I did were coming in and fading out there full sleeves, back pieces, etc…
Quite a few people come in to have their face tattoos completely removed in the last few months, which is understandable after the phase that Australian tattooing just went through for that.
I guess now people realize they can go through the tattoo removal process and have the person doing the treatment who can relate to them every step of the way and isn’t some douchebag that hates tattoos.
I recently opened up my second “clinic” (I hate that word) inside Third Eye Tattoo in Melbourne, and have a third opening in Sydney in the not-too-distant future.
Obviously I love tattoos, and I love lightening the pieces people aren’t happy with so they can get quality new ones in their place. That being said, I really hope I never find myself inundated with customers that want their tattoos completely removed after deciding they don’t like tattoos anymore.
**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.