Get Smart about tattooing

by DGO Web Administrator

They’re not just for pirates, sailors and unsavories. Hell, your mom probably has at least three. But if you, like our intrepid writer, don’t have any, let Bob Lackner of Your Flesh Tattoo tell you all about getting inked.

How long have you been tattooing?Eighteen years. It was blowing up when I was gettin’ into it, but it’s a completely different industry now because of the TV shows and whatnot. All of a sudden, housewives are in the shop, and not just the unsavory characters.

Have the places where people want tattoos changed?Oh, absolutely. It used to be a first tattoo would be smaller and in very easy areas – arms, legs. Nowadays, 18-year-old kids are coming in wanting huge, painful rib area tattoos, just goin’ big.

What are the most painful places to get a tattoo?General rule of thumb is anytime you’ve got bones involved, you’re gonna feel it. The ribs are unique, ’cause it vibrates your innards. When bones are involved, you’re gonna earn it. But then there’re those areas you don’t even think of – back of the knee, armpit- those tucked away areas that aren’t exposed to the elements as much. That’s tender skin.

Ever been freaked out by somebody’s body?[groans and shudders] – Is that an answer? It’s like being a doctor. There’s a job you have to do, and there’s somebody who’s putting their confidence in you. You want to make them feel comfortable and, no matter where you’re tattooing, it’s just skin. The private areas are the most difficult to work on and you’re more focused on getting a good, clean tattoo and you don’t even think about what you’re looking at.

Any tattoos you’ve given that you regret being tied to?There’s definitely certain tattoos that aren’t the most artistic, but at the end of the day, you’ve gotta remember that part of being a tattooer is providing a service for people. You might not think it’s the coolest tattoo, but it’s what that person wants and is going to be stoked to wear, so you do it to the best of your ability and make a nice, clean tattoo. You give them a good experience. How do you regret that?

If I’m going in tomorrow, what do I expect?It’s important to know that it’s a process. You’re not going to walk in, and walk out tattooed. You’ll schedule a consultation with an artist and then it’ll take time to develop the artwork – sometimes up to a month. I like to get my clients in and work back and forth with them on the art, to make sure we’re on the same page. Once I have the green light, I go into greater detail, and then check in again. If there’re changes, we make changes. Then, when we get exactly what we want, we schedule your sitting and get you tattooed.

Is all that time charged?Absolutely not. That’s what people don’t think about. They get intimidated by our hourly wage and think, “Oh my god! That’s so much money!” But I could put 20 hours into a drawing, and I don’t get paid for that. That’s all part of the hourly wage. I’m happy to redraw and redraw and redraw. I want you to be absolutely, 100 percent sure that’s what you want.

What are your pet peeves?I really enjoy working with clients, but there are etiquettes that need to be talked about. There are certain ways to conduct yourself in a shop – one of which being when people bring an entourage of people. I get it. It’s helpful to be distracted, but having seven or eight friends in a shop is – okay, it’s distracting you from the pain, but it’s also very distracting to the artist who’s trying to concentrate on your tattoo. How would you like it if I came to your job with a bunch of my friends and hovered around your desk as you were trying to finish your TPS reports? How productive would you be? My advice is bring one person and let the rest of your friends see it when it’s done. Haggling over price is not kosher. This is not something you want to haggle over! I’ll ask during the consultation if you have a budget. I can draw the design and add more or less detail to make it suit your budget. Just tell me, and we’ll make it work. But if I draw up a tattoo that’s going to cost $600 and you say, “Well, I can do $400,” you’re haggling for something that’s going to be on your body forever. Bad idea.

Any recent jobs that are satisfying?That’s a daily basis thing. There’re so many good clients in Durango that come through and work with you, and let you do fun projects. I’m very fortunate in that most of the clients who come in are willing to let me run with their ideas, put my creative spin on it, let me have fun with it. That’s super satisfying. I couldn’t ask for much more.

Cyle Talley would like to get a tattoo, but knows he’s too much of a commitophobe. Know thyself, right? If there’s something you’d like to Get Smart about, email him at: [email protected]


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