Guest Blog: Tattoo Coupons – Bad For Business

January 26th, 2012 by Kevin -


Editor’s Note: We have another guest blog today from Shawn Hebrank (Tattoo Coupons – No Big Deal) to explore the other side of things. I encourage you to read both posts before firing off  in the comments.


First, a bit of background: Last month Tattoo Snob reposted an ad for a tattoo shop/artist. He was advertising a coupon for a two hour tattoo session for $99 – a great bargain… according to him.

Now, I know that times have been a bit tight for everyone out there and tattooing seems to have screamed into the mainstream of life, but Hell, a freaking coupon?! What have we come to?!?! Are we going to start giving “point incentives” to clients?

Where I come from that’s an understanding between tattooer and client. It’s usually unspoken and understood – not something that needs to be advertised like a sale at Wal*mart.

Tattoo Snob asked me to write this while I was in Miami promoting Nichole East’s “Quick & Painful” art show. The same show that we were doing $40 flash tattoos. The idea of cheap promotional tattoos has always been around and seemed to have its place. You’ve got the Friday the 13th special, Halloween, grand openings, and such. It saddens me a bit that because there are so many shops today, and so many tattooists taking part in all of these speciality events, that clients only want to get tattooed at these events now. It also seems so many tattooists today are so desperate to get folks in the chair that they’re literally bringing the rest of us down. I have many friends the world over who suffer from some shit heel scratcher shop up the road doing cheap ass tattoos just to get the business, or worse- tattoos in trade.

Bring the douche a case of beer, and he’ll sleeve ya, or some such shit. We’ve all heard the stories.

But I digress. Where is all this cut throat BS getting us as a business? Nowhere, thats where. It’s my belief that the client is being taught that not only is it possible to get a cheap tattoo, but that it should be common practice for a client to price shop, and not artist shop. And like I’ve said many time in the past with the problems and issues in our trade, “It’s our own friggin fault”.

Too many young tattooers, too many bullshit tattoo shops, too many individuals brought into this trade with no one there to tell them, “NO, you don’t do that!” It’ll just hurt all of us in the future. I’m very passionate about this, and many other issues in our trade, mainly because while I may not get hurt by some of this BS I have many talented friends whose businesses are suffering greatly from the ignorance of all of us.

I know that everyone wants too work and make a buck. I realize that this is just one, of many issues amongst us as a trade. But F%#K there is really just so much information out there on the web to inform these knuckle heads of the rights and wrongs of how to do business. Even when common sense seems to falter, just turn on your freaking computer!

Hell this is just my opinion, I’m certain you all have your own…


–Guest blog by Joe Capobianco

**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

Guest Blog: Shawn Porter’s Tattoo Movies – AMJAM 1991

January 19th, 2012 by Kevin -


The last year has seen a pushback within the tattoo community; with tattoo artists uploading their own tattoo videos to the internet as an antidote to cable network programmed tattoo “reality shows” that are anything but real.

But you know the old saying- “there’s nothing new under the sun”. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s a number of tattooists took the bull by the horns and produced their own tattoo films. Royboy, Crazy Ace, tattoo fan Michael O. Stearns- folks who documented tattooing for a niche market of worldwide devotees who at the time had no outlet for tattoo programming.

I’ve been collecting these tapes (have you held a VHS tape lately? They’re comically huge) since they originally came out and, fearing that these glimpses of our history may end up forgotten, digitizing them for my ‘Occult Vibrations’ blog. The idea is that if folks all over the world have access to them, they can never disappear.

Instead of talking about the specific tape (dude… you should see the outtakes. Debra dancing butt naked in a snow cemetery, rolling around naked with tigers and a baby… so fucking weird) I figured a little blurb about where the video came from would be more fitting.

–Guest post by Shawn Porter of Occult Vibrations

We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

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Guest Blog: Jeremy Miller – It’s time to fight back

April 5th, 2011 by Kevin -


It’s an understatement to say that our industry has undergone an immense amount of change in the past few years. I have only been tattooing for eight years, and I am sure a lot of artists would say that I am still new to the game. However, even with my limited time in this profession I have seen how these changes dramatically effect even the smallest details of day to day life in a tattoo studio. Some of us welcome these changes while others shun them, but look back to 2005 and we can all see that putting tattoo shops in America’s living room has significantly changed our little world.

What do these changes mean for our future?

Should we embrace them or fight back?

Surely at this point I have an audience that is severely split down the middle, with evolution supporters ready to charge into the new frontier and disgruntled old-timers ready to fight for what they feel is the only way tattooing should be approached. The sad truth is that there is no correct answer, just a jumbled mess of hardheaded individuals ready to spit their opinions on one another. If you are offended that I called you hardheaded, let me apologize, and then let’s take a step back to realize why we all got into this field. I hear people say all the time that tattooing called to them and they have such a passion for it–but frankly, it is a rock star lifestyle. We get paid very well to be stubborn and do what we want to do. Giving society the middle finger is one of the perks of the job, so yes, you are hardheaded. Due to the stubborn nature of all of us, I feel that it is crucial to our collective advancement to look at the facts and opinions that have the ability to shape our future.

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Guest Blog: Jessica Hill aka “J.J. Diablo”

February 25th, 2011 by Kevin -


I grew up in the suburbs of Cherokee County, Ga. as a semi-prissy ballerina and straight A student. (Trust me, given my surroundings, I’m just as surprised I can read and write as you are right now). I was very sheltered and had a laser like focus on only three things: books, bikes, and my dance company. However, as official teendom hit, so did my growing fascination with all things taboo. This means if it made my parents squirm, I would try it. Just as so many teenage dreams of rebellion before and after my days of awkward obscurity, tattoos became the main focal point of something I wanted. Please keep in mind that this was also the peak era of the Pamela Anderson Lee “Barbed Wire” arm band and all things tribal, so I had no clue about the real artistry behind the trade. I just knew that I wanted in on what I saw as a mecca of badassery.

Like every girl born in the early 1980’s, I scratched my ink itch at the ripe age of eighteen with a tramp stamp of glory. However, I didn’t start getting more heavily tattooed until after 25 years old. Inspired by the incredible work I was lucky enough to get at that time from artists like Mike Parsons, Kenny Holland and Mikie Webb, I quickly realized there was an entire world of real art that I’d just begun to experience. At the time, I had a corporate sales job that was anything but tattoo friendly. I understand the reasoning behind such protocol, but I didn’t and still don’t necessarily agree with it.

Something to note, I am an extremely traditional person and dare I say, a closet soccer mom at heart. I bake, I crochet, and I am a ridiculous mother hen to my friends at times. I’ve never been even close to the “I don’t give a f*$k mentality.” I worry about the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘would’ve, should’ves’ unduly at times. This all changed when I lost my parents; my dad passed away from lung cancer in 2007, and my mother almost a year to the day from breast cancer in 2008. I mention this experience because I think it relieved me of many of these fears and worries. As I coped with the loss, I strove to
take it as an opportunity to do more of what I really wanted to do with myself, without fear of failure, judgement, or scrutiny. Those things seem trivial compared to facing life so early without the folks. I continued getting tattooed, and decided to model as well, to help promote my situation and hopefully take me into the media career I’d always really wanted.

As luck would have it, it landed me right onto the cover of PRICK Magazine as a Hot Ink model in July of 2009. I clearly remember insisting on a face to face interview, and telling the writer that I wanted his job and spewing out my credentials nervously. Guess who he called when they needed a new writing contributor?

That fateful feature (and repeatedly sending publisher, Chuck B, baked goods) landed me in the office of the grass roots tattoo mag, and exactly where I’d always wanted to be. In my opinion, such a male dominated industry is a bit more tough to make a way in as a female. To do so, a gal’s got to either be one of the most down chicks around with
balls of steel, or be stupidly hot. Please note, hotness will only go so far if real respect is the goal. I don’t really feel that I fit that well into either category, but I do think I have a nice rack and some cojones. Some women may hate me for saying it, but I really did use my boobs to get my brain in the door. From there, I let the balls take the reins and ran with it.

Being the first girl to step out as a spokesperson for PRICK, there is certainly no lack of pressure. However, I feel I can only do positive things at the magazine for private and industry readers alike. If nothing else, a fresh face with my annoyingly perky personality and foul mouth is a nice change after 10 years in circulation. Our goals for next year are to continue our new bimonthly print schedule to allow us to distribute more magazines all over the U.S. and grow our business to a more stable advertising base. I want us to have more freedom to get more of the amazing things going on in the tattoo world into
the magazine and into the hands of our awesome readers. I’m also a sucker for a good cause, and want to build more relationships within the industry to help keep it not only alive and thriving, but able to give back to others that have given so much to it already.

I think it’s a waste to have a platform to so many people and not do something with it. Every year since my mom’s death, I’ve walked in the breast cancer Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. After just three months at PRICK, I was rallying to raise my regular donations to walk by selling cookies to local tattoo shops. Even through industry politics, the support I found in some of the incredible shop owners in Atlanta sparked a fire to yet again do more. A friend, fellow female, and tattoo artist, Ashley Shafer, had also lost her mother to the disease, and was walking and trying to raise donations. I decided to put my Public Relations degree to work and plan what was originally to be a small fundraiser to help us meet our goals. The idea was simple, and had been successful before: raffle off tattoo gift certificates to raise some money. However, the project quickly took wings, and with the help of PRICK and the Atlanta tattoo community, a breast cancer advocacy non-profit, Ink 4 Pink, was born.

The initial campaign and fundraiser was a huge success, and set a new standard to what I think is possible for the future of the tattoo and art industry as well as philanthropic groups that choose to partner within it. We’re working on the next
campaign for 2011 now and stoked on what we have planned!

I still consider myself to be quite young to the tattoo industry, and hope to stay that way. I think a humble, student mentality is the best way to experience anything, and the tattoo world is no exception. I’ve met some amazing artists, and made some lifelong friends already. Being a tattooed girl definitely has its perks. I’ve tried to use such awesome connections to so many amazing people to line up worthwhile events for 2011 with PRICK and Ink 4 Pink. I can’t wait to see what ‘s in store for girls this year.

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Guest Blog: Myke Chambers – What are you willing to lose?

February 16th, 2011 by Kevin -


I recently saw a blog post that… well, it really pissed me off and those of you that know me know I’m usually a happy, easy-going guy. Well, not so much here. An anonymous collector asked a blog that only posts photos of throat tattoos (cool blog, btw) a question and they answered… then I gave my 2 cents. Here it is:

“I really want a neck sleeve but I’m afraid of the job opportunities later on. Any info or advice on that?” -Anonymous

And the blog owner’s reply:

“haha, yeah i know what you mean! It will probably be much more difficult for you to get a “normal” job with your entire neck. But that shoulder [sic] stop you from doing what you want! but also you got to be ready and willing to face the difficulties that you will most likely face when getting a job. But living your life the way you want is much more important then jobs/money. Do whatt you want to do in life and dont let anything hold you back. Maybe me and you and everyone else with they’re throat done should open up a place together and you MUST have your throat done to work there! hahaha, and by the way a full neck sleeve is the way to go when it comes to gettin your neck done! If you ever do please show me!”

… Are you fucking kidding me? That is the STUPIDEST advice I’ve head in a long time!! Of course being able to get a job fucking matters. Do you want to work at Hot Topic or Urban Outfitters your whole life? There are very few options for heavily tattooed people. The main ones being hair stylists, tattooers and porn. Fuck knows there’s enough all of those! Don’t be a fucking idiot.

“But living your life the way you want is much more important then jobs/money.” Really? Well when you’re working a shit job because you can’t get a well paying job, you’ll be a slave working from paycheck to paycheck just to pay the rent and eat. Having a good job actually gives you MORE freedom to do what the hell you want.

Kids today think it’s so cool to have their neck and hands tattooed before they even have full sleeves so people can SEE they have tattoos and KNOW how cool they are. Lame, lame, lame.

It’s no secret that i have my face tattooed and I’ve had it done for around 18 years now. I was 17-18 when I did it and I was stupid for doing it. I was a homeless squatter punk that wanted to die because I thought my life was over. I didn’t care about myself or what happened to me. I didn’t do it to be cool. I did it to say FUCK YOU to society. The funny thing is, today I’m a happy, productive member of society. I pay taxes and all that crap. Lucky for me I’m an established tattooer–but if I wasn’t I’d be screwed and living in a self-imposed hell of manual labor at minimum wage trying to scrape by.

So ask yourself: is being one of the “cool kids” really worth a life of struggle and hardship? Ask yourself this, too: in you thinking you’re giving the finger to the system by tattooing your hands, necks and faces (without being in an established career) do you not realize you’ve just given in to what you think you were fighting? Yup, following trends set by the man designed to hold you back and keep you under his thumb. The man needs mindless pawns–and you’re it! Sad you don’t even see it.

Now on the other side of the coin I know lots of people that, having established their career, are now able to tattoo what ever they feel like tattooing on themselves. They’ve worked to get to that place in life. Nothing is free… in the words of Lucero, “what are you willing to lose?”

It’s sad that there is this type of workplace discrimination… it is discrimination and it sucks. Tattoos ARE becoming more and more accepted in the workplace, but when I have a kid that works at a sandwich shop coming in trying to get his hands or neck tattooed and I tell him how that’s just a bad idea and he leaves with a nice tattoo somewhere else on his body, I feel pretty good. But a lot of times that same kid I tell “no” goes down the street and gets a less than par neck tattoo and can’t seem to find a job. Then a month later, I see him on the side of the highway with a cardboard sign begging for change (this actually happened). It just makes me sad.

You see, in this business the client is NOT always right. It’s the tattooer’s job to have strong ethics. We need to assess if we’re actually harming our client by permanently ousting them from a good job market or not. Yeah, they’ll probably go to someone without proper ethics and get the tattoo… but if we sit them down and explain our reasoning it might have an impact on them. If not, it’s on someone else’s hands. People make poor decisions all the time. As tattooers it’s our job not to only care about the clients money, though (sadly) that’s usually the case. Don’t get me wrong, I love neck and hand tattoos, just hold off until you’re at the proper place in life to get them.

I’m not trying to be a dick or piss on your parade. Just be careful; visible tattoos are a HUGE commitment and come with severe consequences.

–Guest post by Myke Chambers

**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

Guest Blog: Tim Pangburn – Thoughts on tattoo schools

December 22nd, 2010 by Kevin -


Tattooing today is a being far separated from the days of old. Where it once was kept to back alleys and shady barber shops, boardwalks and military bases, tattooing has stepped into the modern age. Shops can be found in strip malls and casinos across the world. Clients are no longer criminals and loose women, but doctors and lawyers–a small change. As a tattooer, the world is your oyster.

But with every good, some bad must follow. Which brings me to the topic of tattoo schools. Possibly the most evil thing to grace the planet. Which means it is our duty to wage the most glorious battle since Conan fought Dagoth. I have found dozens of these “schools” online; money hungry leeches that are willing to sell the dignity of this tradition for a fistful of dollars.

Most offer to teach you in a matter of weeks. And I quote:

“3 week intensive training and you learn stuff that you’re actually going to be able to take home and for me I was able to make money right away.”

Hold on–you mean my years of learning how to draw, making needles, learning how to interact with clients, proper sterilization techniques, and all that other stuff could have been taught in 3 weeks? Damn! I wasted all that time!

The truth is, each aspect of tattooing could take years, if not a lifetime, to master. Apprenticeships take years to accomplish for a reason. Sterilization and cross contamination take months to learn. The procedure behind it is very delicate and deliberate. It can only be fully learned through long term repetition. When it is shorted, you run the very real risk of transmitting disease and infection to one (if not dozens) of clients. Tattooing is a minor medical procedure. Would you go to a dentist who took a three week crash course? Probably not.

Design and layout are integral to an attractive tattoo. Artists and graphic designers spend an easy 4 years in college to learn these things. Tattooing is over 5,000 years old. When we speak of modern tattooing, we’re generally referring to the last few hundred years when artistic application began to take hold in Asia. How could anyone even claim they can summarize the theories behind design in a few weeks? Even if you were to assume tattooing itself could be learned quickly, you would not only be insulting tattooers, but every artist who spent years in university to hone their craft.

And of course, this leads to the final major issue: tattooing itself. Even the best tattooers will admit they are still learning. I am learning every day. I have been tattooing for 12 years and never do I claim to know all there is. I fancy myself a well rounded tattooer with a solid grasp on most forms of tattooing, but I am master of none. To imply that what we do as tattooers can be taught as a crash course in a classroom setting is nothing short of insulting. Line work, shading, and color application are all difficult techniques with ever spiraling layers of intricacy and above all, heart.

My point behind all of this is this: tattooing is sacred. Don’t for one second think that we haven’t put in serious work. And it’s not just for tradition’s sake, it’s because it is necessary to learn the ropes of a very complicated and dangerous business. Our clients trust us with not only their tattoo, but their health. Both can have lifelong repercussions. It is our duty to do right by tattooing, because it has done right by us. So by all means, call a tattoo school. Email them. Not to enroll, but to let them know that they are causing severe damage to the business. Call your local health department. Do whatever you can to confront the issue head on. As long as we let outsiders step in and capitalize on our hard work, we are in essence kowtowing to what is essentially the rape of tattooing. Don’t be a part of the problem, be a part of the solution.

–Guest blog by Tim Pangburn

**** We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.

Guest Blog: Ian White – Tattoo Acceptance In The Workplace

December 14th, 2010 by Kevin -


I keep getting this Facebook page suggested to me, “Tattoo Acceptance In The Workplace.” I can’t bring myself to “like” it because I don’t feel that visible tattoos are something that should be accepted in a workplace; it shouldn’t be expected for a business to accept your tattoos. I want to emphasize this is just my opinion, based on my life experiences. For the most part I am talking about discrimination against visible tattoos. I don’t feel that any business should be able to tell you where you can or can’t have non-visible tattoos.

When I see a 20 year old with his neck tattooed I wonder, “Where does that kid work?” I hear time and time again how some girl is upset because she has to wear a full collar shirt at her job because her “boss sucks” and doesn’t like her new collar-rocker. Or some guy can only get a factory job because he wanted to be the tough kid and got his hands tattooed as his first tattoo (not that there’s anything wrong with factory work).

I don’t feel like anyone is being discriminated against when they can’t get a job or are asked to cover their tattoos at a job. We do this to ourselves–this is not something we couldn’t help. Tattoos are obviously permanent and that is something the younger generations that are now getting tattooed just don’t comprehend. I  saw a guy at a show that couldn’t have been more than 20–just as tattooed as I am at 33 years old. He got his uniform put on, he got his cool points all at once. Now when the other guys that thought a little about their ink, and got less visible tattoos at first, get good jobs, and then decide where is ok to be tattooed, they have the option. They are not confined by their young decisions.

Tattoos are a wonderful form of personal expression. And it is great that after 18 years of age we can adorn ourselves however we want with them. But we can’t expect a business to conform to us for our decisions of decoration. You are taking away a business owner’s rights by demanding they allow you to look however you want. Abercrombie hires models, Hot Topic hires tattooed folks. Don’t be bummed if one won’t hire the other. It is definitely great that tattoos are getting more accepted in society. And it definitely stinks when a business owner puts their personal opinions on tattoos as appearance policy, and not as a decision of business image. Especially when it is a job that an employee doesn’t encounter the customer. At the same time, it is their right as the owner. We are making leaps and bounds as tattooed people, no longer just sailors and/or criminals. It is up to us,  as the people wearing the tattoos, to continue to improve the public image on the tattooed. I see it as two ways to start. One being to just act like a civilized human being.

That’s really not that hard. Here’s the hard part: actually get good tattoos. That’s hard these days with so many scratchers out there, but do your research (like this website), find reputable shops, pay what they are worth and show your great art with pride. But when you have that amazing next tattoo that you just had to have done by your buddy, don’t be bummed when you can’t do the job you really want, because of their tattoo policies.

Tattoos are amazing. I wanted to do them since I was a kid and have wanted to be covered in them just as long. I am literally living my dream. When I was too scared to show my art to a shop to get an apprenticeship, I got my hands tattooed. In my mind, then I HAD to become a tattoo artist. There are lots of places that are very accepting of tattoos and that number continues to grow. As fans of this art, this craft, this lifestyle, we have to take responsibility for the choices we make take the plunge into the world of living art.

I’m sure this article will offend as many inspires. Either way, I hope you got something from it.

–Guest blog by Ian White

**We’re looking for quality guest blogs from tattooers & enthusiasts–shoot us an email.