Honey, I Shrunk the Studio

Big Ideas for Tiny Spaces

Steve Villines wants to make your business tiny.

It’s not what it sounds like. In fact, in many ways, it’s just the opposite, but simultaneously, it couldn’t be more literal. OK, let’s explain. After four decades in high-end general contracting, Steve has switched to building tiny homes and he’s begun to see the concept’s potential in business applications, especially in such boutique genres as tattoo studios. He might be onto something.

Once written off as a passing trend for millennials trying to ‘out-hipster’ each other, the tiny homes movement has become a lasting and impactful accent of the modern zeitgeist. Even for the clear majority of us who haven’t stepped up and scaled down, the mere introduction of the concept has inspired us to rethink our norms and culturally manufactured ideas of what we really need and how we consume. For many, the movement’s existence has created a notion of hope, an opportunity on the horizon for real freedom; freedom from debt, freedom from clutter, and ultimately, freedom from ‘the grid.’ For a brave few, it’s been a full actualization of that hope.

But can all those warm fuzzies of neo-hippie ideals really transfer into the context of a functional business? Why would you even want to run your studio out of a space that’s roughly the size of your competition’s storage closet?

Well, why not? If the tiny home movement has taught us anything it’s that excess space is overrated. It’s just more air to heat or cool, more dusty corners your apprentice has to clean, and more square footage to drive up your rent. And if you own, don’t even get us started on property taxes. Given, if you’re packing in the chairs and expanding your staff, you’ll probably want to stick with your storefront. But if you’re keeping it lean, if you prefer to fly solo, or if mobility is a must, ‘tiny’ might be your ticket.

We’re not talking about a half-assed home-built RV here. Steve may be cutting down on unused space, energy consumption, and overhead, but he’s not cutting corners.

“I build a high quality tiny home made out of steel frame construction,” Steve asserts confidently. “My homes are built to last. A LONG time. The tiny homes I build are better quality than any RV on the market. RVs are pretty shoddily built, really. The unique thing about tiny homes compared to an RV is that tiny homes are actually built for long-term use. RVs are only intended to be weekend getaways, but people are often living in them full time.”

But while durability is crucial, it’s only the starting point. The real appeal of these limited spaces are the limitless possibilities, all while adhering to any and all health regulations.

“We can basically customize everything to the individual needs of each and every artist . . . We can get all kinds of different finishes from mica countertops to quartz to whatever a person is looking for. It’s a blank slate. That’s what our company is geared to do, to sit down with each artist and figure out what they’re looking for while staying within their budget. Most of the units will start at $50,000 and go up from there, depending on what they’re looking for. But that’s a fully outfitted unit in the sense of dump tanks, water tanks, filtration—all the equipment that they’ll need to pass the applicable codes.”

It’s hard to not let the imagination run wild with the potential. Planning a tour? Don’t worry about booking chair time; just bring your own. Looking to expand your reach? Bring your studio to the people; show up fully equipped to festivals, conventions, state fairs, even Phish lots. Seriously, imagine rolling up with a fully functional tattoo parlor at Coachella or Burning Man. Actually, probably not Burning Man, (unless you want to trade your work for a dream catcher made from aluminum foil and discarded hair scraps), but definitely Coachella. With a tiny tattoo parlor, your business is no longer an anchor. It’s a vehicle. Granted, one that has to be pulled by another vehicle, but you get the idea.

Each tiny tattoo parlor can be built out to include a small waiting area and up to two stations. Though the units are small, the meticulously designed floor plans will eliminate any possible sensation of confinement. And if we haven’t emphasized it enough, they are INSANELY energy efficient. Do it right, and you could cut your overhead in half or more.

Thus far, the concept is merely that—a concept. Steve has what it takes to create what we’ve described, no question, but he’s waiting for that visionary willing to shed their brick and mortar skin and become a pioneer in the wave of the future. Could that be you?

[email protected]

Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention

Photo Credit @shoveyphotograghy

Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention
May 4-6, 2018
Baltimore Convention Center

According to Carl “Dr. Blasphemy” Murray, Baltimore native and emcee for the 2018 Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention, “Cham City” went over 20 years without a tattoo convention before Troy Temple of Villain Arts, brought his show to town. Now in its eleventh year, the Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention has evolved from fitting into a hotel ballroom to filling up an entire convention center space and drawing a crowd in excess of 18,000!

“We’ve done so by featuring some of the best tattoo artists from all over the globe — tattoo artists from TV, local shops, national and international, and we’ve brought in entertainment to create a very unique atmosphere — there are side shows, the world famous Enigma, live human suspension, and even midget wrestling,” Dr. Blasphemy says. “All these elements combine to create a vibe that people want to be a part of — it’s like opening day for the Orioles or Ravens — it’s something that people look forward to each year.”

“Baltimore started out slowly with tattooing, but in the past 10 years or so, we’ve had a plethora of shops pop up. We even have three artists who were on Ink Masters and did very well,” Dr. Blasphemy adds. “There’s a very enthusiastic tattoo and body modification scene here now.

“People are really into tattoo art — there were a lot of people buying actual artwork from the artists to take home and put on their walls. It’s become about more than just tattooing — there’s a real appreciation for the art and the art form.”

The 2018 Baltimore Tattoo Arts Convention hosted well over a thousand tattoo artists and vendors with close to 500 artist booths. Along with a long list of Ink Master contestants who are regulars on the Villain Arts tour, current season winner Josh Payne, came in unannounced along with season II winner Steve Tefft. Best of Show awards went to: 1st, Robby Latos & Sean Foy, Damascus Tattoo Co., 2nd, Jon Roberts, Damascus Tattoo Co., 3rd, Poch, World Famous Tattoo Ink.

“One of the hashtags we use is #tattoofamily — there are at least 200 artists who travel to every show that we put on,” Dr. Blasphemy says. “It’s a sea of multiple chaos.”

On stage were a variety of “alternative” acts including The Enigma, Alakazam the Human Knot, Olde City Sideshow, Aerial Burlesque performer Shannon Sexton, and The Inkllusionists.

“There’s a little something for everybody. People come to the show to get tattooed, and they bring their wife, kids and cousins, so there’s lots of other stuff for them to do. Some people come in just for the chance to hang out and watch the entertainment,” Dr. Blasphemy says.

“We try to make the entire show into an experience where people can immerse themselves in the tattoo lifestyle and culture.”

Becky Taylor of Idaho Vyxen tattoos

Idaho Vyxen tattoos
144 w 13th St. Burley idaho 83318

Phone: 208-219-4597 (my cell #)

My name is Becky Taylor. I was born in Brawely California and was raised in Calipatria California. My parents are Connie and Alex Nava. I was one of five siblings. I grew up with a very traditional Mexican house hold but I am also a Portuguese African and European descent. I never fit in with any crowd. I was always a lone wolf always trying to fit in but never could. So my outlet was art. I joined several art competitions in the community and always won them so I finally found somewhere I could fit in. My parents always encouraged me one hundred percent. In 1993 I moved to Tulare County. I once again struggled to fit in and never seemed to be able to. Until my high school gave me information about a graphic design tech center while I was still in high school. I immediately jumped at the opportunity and enrolled in tcove, a tech center to study the art of graphic design and I loved it. It didn’t fulfill my artistic desire for hands on art. In 1999 I decided to move to Burley Idaho to live near my mother who had since married and moved to Burley Idaho. I had never been in such a slow pasted environment . Meaning I was used to living the city life. I was employed at many jobs from management to cna work and with a small town like Burley Idaho there weren’t many graphic design jobs available. My desire for art was left unfulfilled. In 2008 I lost my sons father Alex. I realized then that life was short and I needed to pursue things in my life that made me happy. While searching for what would make me happy my mother had a talk with me one day while visiting me at my home and told me that she felt I was very talented and that I was wasting my talent and that I needed to do something with my art. And suggested that I get into tattooing. She felt that I would be an amazing tattoo artist one day. So I searched for an apprenticeship in Idaho in 2010. I eventually found an apprenticeship and decided that tattooing was going to be my future. I fell in love with it. Tattooing satisfied my desire for hands on art and it made me so happy. So I knew this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I struggled in the beginning but I was persistent but I never gave up despite so many critical remarks and hateful comments thrown at me in my community. Despite the hateful comments in my community I had a handful of supportive and positive people. Those people kept me going and they are the reason I never gave up. Eventually with enough education and research I started developing and becoming better and better at my craft. I started gaining more and more support from my clients and people in the community. I eventually opened my own tattoo shop Idaho Vyxen Tattoos in Burley Idaho and we have been a successful and thriving business. My mom was able to see me open my first tattoo shop but unfortunately passed away in 2014 from cancer. After she passed away I decided I was going to fulfill the dreams my mom had for me as a tattoo artist. I worked harder and harder everyday and I went to school to learn permanent makeup as well so that I could help cancer survivors with areaola color correction and helped with mastectomy scars with Micro needling scar management. None of this would have been possible without the support of my husband and my four children. They are my cheerleaders, my biggest fans, the reason I push myself to become a better artist. I believe my California upbringing mixed with my Idaho culture make me a more diverse artist. I’m inspired by faces by human emotion. Human emotion inspires my art. I’m also inspired by survivors. The blind, domestic violence, and cancer survivors. In 2009 I fought my biggest obstacle in life. I lost my sight. I had retina detachment and lost my sight in both eyes. There was a chance I would not regain my sight with the surgery. After 3 months I regained some sight. After 6 months I was given a pair of glasses and was able to see for the first time after many months of little to no sight. I decided from that point on that i would never take my sight for granted and tattoo as long as god would allow. Now I’m at a point in my carrier where I’m finally happy with where I’m at artistically and I encourage any artist or any person with challenges or struggles to never give up, to take all criticism and use it to fuel your inner most dreams. I also encourage children especially to not let your diagnoses define you. I also have a son with autism and me and my children never treated him different we encouraged him and supported him and he is doing amazingly well. 100% med free and is in public school. Throughout my life I had obstacles struggles and many different situations that could have stopped me from doing what I love as a tattoo artist. But I never gave up and I never let them see me sweat. And I learned that all human beings should do what they love in life and encourage each other. And that’s the way I’ll always live my life

I Don’t Understand Why Everyone Loves Pub Subs so Much

Eran Dolev sugars, I think rhetorically, in the progression paragraph of the structural whether golblader antibiotics the lessons are mounted to future wars. Lightly, the suggestion that epidural anaesthesia is associated with resisted Caesarean registering rates is not merited by the placebo.

I Don’t Understand Why Everyone Loves Pub Subs so Much

by Austin L. Ray

By the time you’re holding this issue in your hands, I’ll be celebrating my 13th summer in the South. I moved down here from the Midwest in 2005 and quickly fell in love on so many levels—with the weather, the rap music, a gang of ride-or-die pals, a woman who I eventually married and had a child with, the food, the beer, the just about everything—while coming to the realization that I didn’t need to live in New York to make a living as a writer.

There’s a certain scrappy pride to living down here, one that may have welled up in you as you were reading that first paragraph. But I would argue that this pride is especially intense in my homebase of Atlanta. If you don’t like a thing that we like, there’s a decent enough chance we’ll charm you into it eventually. Or you’ll at least learn to respect it. I’ve certainly experienced that as a Midwestern expat.

But one thing that’s always confused me is the Publix deli sub. I can already see your hackles raising, and listen, those sandwiches are fine. I’ve enjoyed more than my share. They’re almost never bad! But that’s about the best praise I can offer. I needed to figure out why Southerners in particular care so much about the Pub Sub. So I did what any good writer does when they need attention to make it through another day are trying to solve a gnarly puzzle: I asked Twitter.

Reader, the praise was as fast and furious as Ludacris starring alongside Vin Diesel.

“They are the greatest of God’s gifts to mankind,” one Southern-bred man who now lives in Los Angeles as a TV writer quickly responded. “No hyperbole, the chicken tender sub is the best sub on the market,” a golfer replied. The chicken tenders are a huge hit, apparently, as another writer added: “I’m telling you, chicken tenders #PubSub with mayo and spicy mustard. If you want to cheer me up, it’s foolproof.”

Others tweeted tips (Follow @PubSubs_on_sale on Twitter! The deli employees will scoop out the bread for you!), illicit memories (They’re great for sneaking into theaters!) and lovely animal-based anecdotes (My dog stole half of a #PubSub out of my hand once on vacation!). There was at least one fully-unnecessary-but-nevertheless-delightfully-passionate announcement (I got one in the fridge!). It was a wild, entertaining, and frankly kind of exhausting 18 or so hours on Twitter Dot Com.

But why? Why does this sandwich resonate so hard with Southerners? Amidst all the suggestions and tales and weird moments where I watched people from different groups of my life come together to type at each other about Pub Subs, I realized it a certain comfort. There’s an accessibility to this sandwich. The fact that they’re so cheap and easy to rally around? Not enough popular meals can claim that these days. They feel like home.

“They are suburban soul food,”a creative strategist and comedy improviser tweeted at one point. “I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. You can just feel when they are needed and know what your order is before the counter.”

Mateo Sigwerth – Wolf’s Head Tattoo

Name? Mateo Sigwerth

Shop? Wolf’s Head Tattoo

Location? Albuquerque, NM—Knob Hill

Style? American Traditional

Years tattooing? 10 years

How did you get your start tattooing?

It kind of fell in my lap. I did my first tattoo when I was 13. My cousin, Oscar would get tattooed by one of his buddies and I would hangout and watch. I would sketch in my black book and the artist liked my stuff so one day he asked if I would like to tattoo him. Shit, I was all over that opportunity. The tattoo come out okay.

What was that first tattoo gun made from and how did you figure out how to make it?

The following summer, my cousin and I started making homemade tattoo machines out of a blow dryer and a guitar string. I can’t believe they actually worked.

In what ways has your experience with street art/graffiti informed your style and development as a tattoo artist?

Graffiti and street art have played a big role in my life and my art. I pull elements from graffiti in my color tattoos and color pallet.

Are there any specific graffiti artists who especially influenced your work?

I’ve always been influenced by Mike Giant 2face and Taste. My mentors were also graffiti writers Porky, Dabs(RIP) and Nore…Who are all now amazing tattoo artists.

Aside from human skin and urban walls, what are your other preferred media for your art?

Lately I’ve been doing a lot of liquid acrylic on wood. It’s been a good change from the norm. I usually paint tattoo flash with watercolor on arches paper. My biggest influences have been Sailor Jerry, Bert Grim, Ed Hardy, Porky, Dabs, Basquiat.

Rotary or coil and why?

I actually use both. I prefer coil for line work and rotary for shading. Both are great tools.

If you could pass along one piece of advice to aspiring tattoo artists, what would it be?

Don’t lose the art of drawing on paper.

Any parting words? The floor is yours.

Bold will hold.

Silver Fox Tattoo

“If you had told me when I first started tattooing twenty years ago that I would go to bed early, get up at 7am and listen to Dixieland jazz all day, I probably would have punched you in the throat.”

Loki Shane Defriece

There’s a chuckle in his voice as the words form, but for some reason, you’re inclined to believe him. You probably should. “Loki” Shane Defriece is a native-born son of Atlanta after all, and not the side of it you see on the WB. He’s from the other side, the eclectic smattering of urban neighborhoods full of hellbilly punk rockers with pickled livers and scarred-over nasal passages who are just as likely to be caught two-stepping to Merle Haggard as they are to be throwing down to Mastodon.

“I held the record at a bar I worked at for awhile . . . I drank 28 Jager shots and walked out . . . There’s been a lot of growing up in my last ten to fifteen years.”

No kidding. But this is not a story of redemption. It’s one of evolution. Sure, he’s “adulting” fulltime now, but he’s doing it on his terms.

20 years ago, fatherhood meant crashing on couches to keep up with child support payments while learning the tattoo trade between Jager binges. Today, it means building a legacy for his family, one in which his daughter already places an active role.

“You know the saying, ‘If you teach a man to fish’? Well, I bought her a pond.”

That “pond,” as he describes it, is Silver Fox Tattoo, one of Atlanta’s newest and fastest-growing ink destinations, as well as the shop in which his daughter has learned the trade. “She’s doing a really good job . . . a way better artist than I ever was when I first started,” he says proudly.

It’s saying a lot, considering the shop is largely built on Loki’s talent. And considering he’s in the middle of a city saturated with options for ink (currently 142 shops), that is also saying a lot. But Loki is quick to step out of the spotlight.

“When I first [opened] the shop, it was really my clientele that was keeping it up,” he acknowledges. “But since then, I’ve gotten a really good staff. I think that has a lot to do with it, a good staff that can work together and can trust each other.”

Beyond that, he credits the laid-back vibe of the shop and the balance they strike between their passion for quality and willingness to accommodate the masses.

“If somebody wants to get this little bity symbol, it’s still just as meaningful to them as this guy who wants this fucking back piece, so I’m going to treat it with the same attitude . . . I mean, there’s no original tattoo idea under the sun. Have some fun redrawing, draw it with your customer, make it unique. But don’t stick your nose up at them and be like, ‘We’re not going to do that.’”

Despite how the Loki of twenty years ago may have felt, the new digs that come with the wisdom of age are a good look for him. They’ve equipped him to become not only a solid father and business owner, but also a savvy property investor; the house he purchased two years ago has already nearly doubled in value. But don’t expect him to move when the developers come knocking.

“It’s my home . . . I’m not gonna sell it. I’m gonna sit here in my underwear with a shotgun and yell at the neighbors.”

Silver Fox Tattoo – Atlanta, Georgia

An Interview of Sorts

I know this is way more personal than the questions you usually get, but it would really mean a lot to me if you would let me pick your brain. I feel like knowing your thoughts on these things might help me with some stuff I’m struggling with professionally and personally. Would you please answer the following?
Eternally grateful, T.


Sure, why not!?

Q: Would you say that body modification empowers women? How/why?

A: Yes, definitely! The societal pressures on women to conform to a certain standard of beauty are extremely intense. So many of the other actions women take in our quests to live up to that ideal such as nose jobs, breast augmentation, Botox injections, etc., are conforming actions—to look and be like everyone else. Whereas in Western society, body art is meant to be individuating, rather than conforming. (Or at least it always used to be.) Getting body art is a choice a woman can make for herself that may relate more deeply to who she really is, rather than how well she can emulate the prevailing beauty criteria.

This is how I put it in my book, The Piercing Bible:

“Piercing and other types of body modification are methods of changing the actual physical form, which is empowering in a way that may not be fully understood by those who have never participated in it. Women, in particular, are bombarded by the media’s unrealistic notions of beauty, which deeply affect self-esteem and body image. They may turn to piercing or other forms of body art to help them embrace a positive attitude about themselves….”

This is especially true of genital piercings:

“Many people do not find their private parts attractive or appealing…. When an individual makes a choice about the appearance of his or her own genitals by piercing and adorning them with jewelry, it can be highly liberating, and for many it inspires a harmony with their bodies that could not be achieved through any other means.”

For about six years now, have specialized exclusively in erotic piercings (male and female nipple and genital piercings). I receive a great deal of positive feedback about how these embellishments help women feel more confident about themselves, their bodies, and their sexuality.

I’ll never forget seeing an effusive client literally jumping up and down in my piercing room after viewing her new genital piercing, while gleefully shouting, “I’m transformed!”

Q: In what ways is women’s body modification, especially in America, different today than it was historically?

A: If by “historically” you mean piercings done by tribal peoples or as time-honored rituals, what’s different now is that piercing is not commonly practiced as a part of any cultural traditions (with the exceptions of Latinas’ ear piercings, and Indian women’s and nostril piercings). Piercings in today’s Western world reflect elective choices, whether they are done for aesthetics, function, or inspired by more serious motivations.

As I put it in my book:

“From the superficial to the profound, there are a multitude of reasons for getting pierced. It might be about attracting attention, the sensation of metal through flesh, or the opportunity to wear some extra “bling.” For others, piercing is a response to deep internal triggers.”

Q: What do you feel your role as a modified woman in our culture is?

A: I love to show that modified women are strong, independent, and self-possessed. That although I’m visibly pierced (28 from the neck up) and covered in tattoos (including my hands, arms, entire lower body and back), I’m a successful entrepreneur who is also into wellness, fitness, and a healthy lifestyle for both body and mind.

Q: Do you feel a responsibility to present a certain image to the public or to be an example or ambassador for the modified community?

A: Yes, absolutely! Because I’m so heavily ornamented, I get lots of comments and questions. I deliberately and happily undertake my role as liaison and educator. I feel strongly about answering questions about body art in an informative, articulate, and friendly manner. By comporting myself with a warm and approachable demeanor, I’ve educated countless curious citizens about body art. My input has caused many who had previously been negative or closed-minded to be more receptive and understanding about it.

Q: How long has body art been a practice for you personally? Is it a spiritual practice for you?

A: I developed an interest in piercing as a child and have been fascinated with the concept of having holes through my flesh in which to wear jewelry for as long as I can remember.

Because my attraction to piercing was innate rather than induced by external influences, it has always felt spiritual to me in a way. It is an external expression of my deepest inner self.

I did my first body piercing (non-ear) on myself at the age of 15 in 1975. Later, in 1981, I found out there was a business that did body piercing professionally and I went there immediately to get my nipples pierced. I continued to receive piercings, and have performed several of my own over the years. I have had more than 40 piercings and regularly wear jewelry in about 38 of them. Many mark important milestones in my life, and all of them have significance to me in some way.

In the late ‘80s, I got the large set of neoclassical angel wings tattooed that cover my entire back, from my shoulders to the bottom of my buttocks. This was apparently the first tattoo with such a theme, and I was quite surprised to find that angel wing back pieces (including “copies” of my own) had become a meme of sorts.

Putting the wings of an angel upon my back was an outward manifestation of my inner drive to be kind and helpful to others—angelic in the Judeo-Christian view, and embodying loving-kindness and compassion in the Buddhists’. Even if I hadn’t been inspired by spirituality, the symbolism speaks (or shouts loudly) for itself.

My subsequent tattoos have added the other three elements, so I literally embody the four traditional elements. The angel wings on my back: air; colorful mermaid scales and fins on my legs: water; floral vines on my arms: earth; and small flames behind my ears, plus a stylized sunray design on top of my shoulders: fire. Of course, the elements also have their own spiritual connections and connotations.

Q: How do you define spirituality and what role does it play in your life?

A: I meditate daily for inner peace and to foster my connection to my higher self. For me, spirituality is about mindfulness, the evolution of my consciousness, and the development of greater compassion and love. A core spiritual belief that drives my actions is that all beings are one: we are all interconnected. This awareness inspired my decision to live a vegan lifestyle and eschew all animal products.

As my meditation teacher, Jim Malloy, puts it:

“Consciousness evolution (or spiritual evolution) opening your heart to experience your connection with all beings…is an essential facet of your spiritual evolution. In Buddhist terminology, this is referred to as cultivating compassion. In secular terminology, it is simply developing love.”

My body, the physical container for my spirit and essence, is indeed my temple, which I treasure, honor with healthful habits, and ornament liberally.