Kaol Szcygiel Tattoo, September 2017

Artist: Kaol Szcygiel Tattoo

Happy Kar Tattoo, September 2017

Artist: Happy Kar
See Pain Magazine Facebook page – www.facebook.com/PainMagazine

Parvick, September 2017

Artist: Parvick, see Pain Magazine Facebook page – www.facebook.com/PainMagazine

Greg Piper – September, 2017

Artist: Greg Piper, Exposed Temptations Tattoo, twitter.com/tattoosbypiper

Guest-Spotting: Do’s And Don’ts To Taking A ‘Working Vacation’

You may have traveled to a tattoo convention, but there you’re in a room for a weekend, working steadily and there’s little time to get acquainted with your fellow artists and learn about the local culture. You’re in and you’re out – and before you know it, you’re back home in your own studio.

Guest Spot ad from Facebook

Doing a guest spot in a totally different studio or opening your door to an artist from another part of the country can bring unique perspectives on tattooing, allow you to share ideas and introduce your regular clients to new styles of work they may not have otherwise had the opportunity to experience. You might say that a guest spot is like having a personal tattoo convention — or better yet, a working vacation.

Many times, guest spots start with meeting people at conventions, and being invited to tattoo at their studio the next time you’re in town. There are even online communities, almost like classifieds, where professionals in the industry can list and find guest spot opportunities. One such Facebook group is “Tattoo Artist Guest Spot Offers & Inquiries.”

A guest spot has benefits for both artist and studio. It could be that it’s a slow time, and having new blood in a studio can boost morale as well as business. Having an extra artist in the house, can work to everyone’s advantage if it’s a busy time of year as well. The traveling artist gets the chance to make new clients and increase their visibility and fan base. Having a well-known artist choose your studio as a stop on their “tour” also ups your respectability in the eyes of local tattoo enthusiasts.


Guest artists bring their own unique talents and personality, but before you book anyone into your studio, be sure to inspect their portfolio and make sure to get two references; one from their home studio and another from a recent client or even just from online reviews. Being that the tattoo industry exists in a very small world, most of the time you will know somebody that knows somebody from whom you can get the lowdown.

Studios typically pay their main artist 70/30 split meaning that the house gets 30% of the profits earned. It’s common practice for a guest artist to receive a little extra from the house since they will be their only a short amount of time and probably have traveling expenses to cover, As a guest, you should respect any fees set by the studio where you will be working, and realize that not all studios are equal, and rates are often determined by the local economy.

Promotion is a big part of a successful guest spot. Well in advance of the appearance, start creating a buzz on social media; share pictures of the artist’s recent work, maybe have a live chat session. The Facebook Event feature is a great way to boost engagement, get people talking and provide helpful information. Use an action button to allow clients to schedule work though the shop or directly with the artist. Make sure to update the social media outlets, showing work the artist is doing once they’ve arrived and announcing any vacancies they may have in their schedule.

While your in the planning stages, the artist will want to make a list of everything they’ll need – unless you’re visiting a studio across town, it’s likely you won’t be able to just run home for something you’ve forgotten to pack. Some artists prefer to ship their “kit” ahead of time to avoid hassles with airport security and make sure everything is ready to go when they arrive.

Don’t expect that you’ll be given the key to the mini-bar, so to speak. Remember that the studio is welcoming you into their home, and as a guest artist, you should bring something to the table and be prepared to work. Be sure and talk to the studio owner or manager about their sterility procedures and facilities – you’ll want to follow the house rules.

As a guest, be on your toes for times when you can lend a hand – think of it as what can you do for the studio rather than what can the studio do for you. Any time you see a chance to help, do so, whether it’s taking walk-ins to pick up the slack when things get busy or grabbing a broom to help sweep up before closing up for the night.

Having a positive attitude and good energy, and being open to sharing both ideas and responsibilities, is a sure way to get invited back.

Guest Spot Packing List

Guest Spot Packing List

  • Tattoo Machine. Along with your favorite machine, be sure and pack a back-up. Cartridge machines are excellent for traveling artists as you can use a single machine and have multiple setups ready and waiting. You never know when a machine may get out of whack, so a small “repair kit” with tools and spare parts is a good idea to bring along.
  • Tattoo Power Supply & Accessories (e.g. foot switch, clip cords, etc.)
  • Surgical Pens. If you prefer to apply your stencils free-hand or supplement thermal transfer images with hand-drawn accents, these are great tools to have on hand.
  • Stencil Transfer. Stencil Stuff makes convenient 40-count single-use travel packs as well as 4oz. and 8oz. Bottle of their solution..
  • Disposable Tattoo Tubes, Clip Cord Covers, Machine Bags, Bottle Bags, Tattoo Sleeves,
    Empty Ink Bottles (for mixing colors)
  • Tattoo Ink. Make sure you have plenty of black, gray wash and any colors you know you’ll need a lot of for particular jobs. If you are shipping ink to your destination, put bottles in lock-tight zip-lock bags in case they should burst or spill during transit.
  • LED Headlamp. You never know how well the lighting will be in the studio, so have a spare wearable light to make sure you can see clearly.
  • Your Portfolio. Spend a little to make a real bound book of your best work. If you’re planning to be a regular visitor at the studio leave your book for customers to check out.
  • Promotional Items – Bring along plenty of stickers and business cards to give to clients you tattoo during your visit as well people you meet while you’re hanging out with your new friends from the studio. Use your smartphone to keep track of people’s email addresses and send them out a “Great to meet ya” message when you’re back home. Part of the reason for doing a guest spot is building up a list of potential clients for the next time you’re in town!

Warship Olympia Tattoo Convention

Warship Olympia Tattoo Arts Convention, July 21-23
Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA

The Warship Olympia Tattoo Arts Convention wins the award for the most unique location in which to get a tattoo – an actual battleship.

Docked at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River waterfront, in Philadelphia, the Cruiser Olympia was first launched in 1892 and is the oldest steel warship currently afloat. It served in the Spanish American War and World War I. The cruiser also brought home the Unknown Soldier for burial in the United States after World War I.

More than 50 tattoo artists boarded the Cruiser Olympia the past July for a three-day tattoo show; booths were packed inside the galley and passageways of this hulking battleship. Contests were held up top on the deck and bands played amidst the ship’s canons.

“The ship wasn’t built for comfort, it was built for war, so it created a really unique vibe to the event. . . the ambiance of the ship was its own entertainment,” says organizer Troy Timpel, artist/owner of Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo.

It was a fitting venue for an event put on by Villain Arts and Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo, a bastion of American traditional classic tattooing. Timpel even brought out some vintage flash, and some of the tattooers used utilized acetate stencils, which are part of an original collection of Philly tattooing legend Eddie Funk. The Independence Seaport Museum, which owns the warship, has also staged tattoo-related exhibitions.

The poster for the event features old school artwork of the warship surrounded by mermaids and an bald eagle, but a broad variety of styles were represented by the artists in attendance. Elijah Nguyen, of Skin Story Tattoo, in Spring, Texas, earned a Best of Day and Best of Show award; Cody Reed, from Ism Studios, in Saginaw, Michigan, also turned in a Best of Day tattoo. Notable special guests included the “Grandmother of American Tattooing” Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand and Alli Baker of “Best Ink.”

“The Philadelphia Tattoo Convention is one of the biggest in the world, so doing a little thing like this is really fun,” Timpel says. “It’s definitely a very different experience.”

Warship Olympia Tattoo Arts Convention
Independence Seaport Museum, Philadelphia, PA


When a law regulating body art gets started in any state, public health becomes the primary reason lawmakers make their first move. Although public health is the primary trigger, politics can factor into the decisions and affect the outcome. In the past, the body art industry had always been the unfortunate victim of unfair public perception and inexperienced, untrained and untalented tattooists causing injury and disease. It doesn’t take many confirmed disease incidents or careless tattoo procedures in back alleys or basements of private homes to get the immediate attention of lawmakers and public health officials.

In previous articles, we have discussed government regulations, ordinances and laws that surround any business, particularly body art businesses that carry a potential risk to customers and clients. Although some body art businesses are completely un-regulated, most body art businesses across the United States and throughout the world have some type of safety procedures in place to maintain a minimum level of client and artist safety. In other states, body art ordinances are exhaustive, complicated and almost impossible to decipher. In the body art industry, small amounts of blood and body fluids are inherent to the business. Although significant amounts of blood are generally not seen during a piercing procedure, tattoo procedures can generate enough blood to be a potential health risk if the procedures are not conducted safely and blood borne pathogens are not managed properly.

New pathogens are taking a strong hold and emerging at an alarming rate. Older pathogens such as Hepatitis B, HIV, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA) and a variety of bacterial organisms such as e-coli, salmonella, shigella and typhoid fever are constantly evolving, mutating and manipulating themselves at the genetic level to become resistant to the medical industry’s best efforts to control them. Protecting public health has become a primary goal for the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food & Drug Administration.

Many body art ordinances, laws and regulations in the United States and around the world use these organizations as a starting point to develop procedures for pathogen information and control because they base their information on proven scientific facts. In addition to using these national organizations, body art ordinance, law and regulation developers at the local level also rely heavily on body art industry experts to provide a real world application when they develop any government regulation concerning body art.

Government regulators now actively seek experts and qualified artists in the body art industry to formulate an ordinance covering tattooing and piercing procedures especially when it comes to the actual procedure itself. Body art experts are asked to work side by side with local and state regulators to come up with a plan that is satisfactory to both sides. An example of a collaborative effort that worked very well was in Albuquerque, New Mexico and several other states.

In 1997, a group of committed body art professionals approached the City of Albuquerque’s Environmental Health Department and insisted the industry be regulated. It was tremendously rare to have a group of any kind actually approach regulators with a request of that kind. Prior to the 1998 enactment of the Body Art Ordinance in Albuquerque, tattooing was technically banned in the entire State of New Mexico. The lack of an ordinance certainly didn’t stop tattoo artists from conducting procedures in states where an ordinance was not in force. Local police departments hesitated to get involved because it was alien territory for them. The main objective of this request to be regulated was to bring credibility and trust to an industry being tarnished by untrained and inexperienced tattooists. The new law required strict health and safety standards in all tattoo and piercing shops in the City of Albuquerque and enabled health inspectors to approach the illegal tattooists and cite them for unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

When local city and county government agencies and state regulators begin the process of enacting any new law regulating the body art industry, they sometimes fall a bit short in creating a workable and easy to understand document. They are usually not familiar with the industry and the daily operations of a body art establishment. Regulations and laws were seen as complicated, stifling and counter-productive to small tattoo and piercing shops wishing to start a business. Twenty years ago, using body art professionals as consultants in law making was considered unacceptable and an insult to their intelligence. That has changed.

Next month, we will dig deeper into the professional working relationships between government regulators and tattoo shop owners.



By Jay Cousins


Tampa Tattoo Arts Convention

Click on image to visit website

Tampa Tattoo Arts Convention