June 2019

CBD: Volume 2

CLICK HERE to read part 1 of this article

Before we get into this second installment of our series on THC’s more straight-laced younger brother, we should quickly tackle a related current event. As of press time, Carl’s Junior has just announced that they will be testing a new CBD-infused burger at their Denver location in the coming months. No, this is not The Onion (although, that would be delicious on the burger.) This is a real story, first reported by CNBC. Dubbed the “Rocky Mountain High: Cheesburger Delight,” the fast food chain’s foray into cannabis culture will feature two all-beef patties, pickled jalapenos, pepper jack cheese, waffle fries and their signature Santa Fe Sauce with a new twist: 5mg of CBD. And of course, the menu price is set at $4.20. We see what you did there, Carl’s Jr. (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

Granted, adding CBD to a burger from Carl’s Jr. is arguably as useful as dousing the bathroom with Axe Body Spray after passing a burger from Carl’s Jr. But what is important to gather from this is CBD isn’t just for your friends who decorate their houses with Grateful Dead tapestries anymore. It’s mainstream, and though it still may be legally ambiguous, it’s not going anywhere.

Let’s get back to the matter at hand. In our last installment, we concluded to a degree of relative certainty that CBD, when produced properly, has shown incredible efficacy in aiding the healing process of the skin. But not all CBD products are created equally and finding the companies who are doing it right can be as daunting as finding your girlfriend’s missing earring after a day at the beach. Luckily, we also have a publication for the cannabis space and naturally, have been following the topic for several years. Here’s what you need to know.

Is it Legal?

Mostly yes, but it’s complicated. Per the Agricultural Act of 2018, industrial hemp is now legal to grow in the U.S. Equally important was the Agricultural Act of 2014, which changed the definition of the plant itself from the previous designation of the flowerless plants grown for rope to any cannabis plant that is under 0.3% THC. That means that the medicine-rich flowering plants are now allowed, so long as they meet the aforementioned threshold. Moreover, Congress has made it clear through a recent amicus brief (1) that they specifically legalized hemp in part to allow experimentation with CBD products. However, the FDA isn’t yet on board and their memos on the topic complicate the situation dramatically. There is also the question of state and local statutes—and those are about as diverse as they can be and are changing every day. It’s important to do your homework and know the laws of your particular region. But you run a tattoo shop, so that’s really nothing new for you.

Whole plant is better.

When choosing your brand of CBD, whether oral or topical applications, never settle for anything less than full spectrum, otherwise known as a full plant extract. Skip past the stuff labeled “broad spectrum.” That’s just a marketing gimmick. Avoid isolates altogether. They’re basically useless. You don’t just want CBD; you want all the essential compounds of the plant, because they work best when they work together. This is commonly known as the “entourage effect.”

Basically, the compounds, both the terpenes and the cannabinoids, work together synergistically. Remove one compound, and you’ve diminished the effects of the others. This really applies to any plant with beneficial properties and is why you’re better off eating an orange than popping a Vitamin C capsule.

But don’t just trust the label. There are plenty of vultures who are wise to the terms and slap the “full spectrum” label on their product illegitimately, knowing there’s nobody policing them. Read reviews, talk to the company, and demand lab reports. Own the process.

Sourcing: plant type and geography.

Knowing where and how the source plant was cultivated is essential. Since we still can’t import the flowering portion of the plant, the best CBD products will be those made here in the U.S., under the umbrella of the Farm Bill. Even if it’s U.S. grown, though, you should still verify that the brand you’re carrying is utilizing flowering, medicinal hemp plants. Otherwise, they’re pulling trace amounts from the stalks and stems of hemp grown for rope, which requires copious amounts of toxic industrial solvents. That’s not how medicine is made.

FDA compliance.

Whether the FDA approves of CBD as food or medicine or not, any company worth a damn will still follow all guidelines for labeling and manufacturing. Can you verify that the product you carry was produced in a CGMP facility and tested in ISO 9000 labs? Does the label have a supplement panel? What claims is the company making? If the literature or labeling makes any drug claims (e.g., “cures cancer” or “relieves pain”), drop them like a bad habit. The FDA has very strict guidelines about what a company can and can’t say. If your brand can’t even follow those, it’s likely they’re cutting other corners too.

Special thanks to Stavros, founder and CEO of Hempzilla CBD, for taking the time to consult for this article, as well as allowing us to drill him on the practices of his company. His answers passed with flying colors and we look forward to taking a closer look at the products his company offers, especially their CBD-infused tattoo cream.

(1) Amicus Brief: No. 17-70162 Hemp Industry Association vs. Drug Enforcement Agency, P. 17

Pain Favorite: Derek Toohey of Factory Edge Tattoo

My name is Derek Toohey I work at Factory Edge Tattoo in the heart of the desert Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have 19 years tattooing as a professional, with about 4 years practicing prior. Art has always come very natural for me, and started drawing at a very young age. Tattooing as early as 14 years old, I’ve worked in every style only to find that my particular passion lies in realism. I enjoy doing color as well as black and grey. I lean more towards color these days whenever possible. I believe that working in layers helps to build more shape, texture detail and depth when working in color. My favorite subject matter I would say is horror, Sci Fi and also nature themes. If I’m able to put a surreal twist into the works, then I will do so. I find things outside the norm can produce a sense of mystery or emotion. I never stop Learning and always see room for growth and pushing boundaries.

I absolutely love what I do and I’m always working to get better. I strive to make more technical discoveries that improve my work. There are so many factors that have changed in the industry, reaching new levels that I have been excited to witness and be a part of. This art form has always been very special to me, it’s what saved me as a kid and continues to motivate and push my personal growth and structure not only as an artist but other aspects in life as well. I enjoy sharing my knowledge of this craft and have had a few apprentices along the way. I suppose I can say that to teach is to learn again in a sense. I can start to explain a process and in doing so refresh my memory as well. We keep each other sharp in this industry, keep each other motivated through inspiring works, techniques and progressions. Fill up some ink caps and stay thirsty my friends! If you would like to get tattooed you can find me at Factory Edge Tattoo Albuquerque, NM (Cottonwood location), my Instagram @dtattoohey or email me [email protected] Thank you all for the love and support.


Pain Favorite: Louie

I’m a small town artist out of Yuba City, CA I’ve been creating art since  I can remember and for the past 5 years I  have been transitioning my skills into the  tattoo world.  Beginning late in this cutthroat industry, I work day and night to grow as quickly and efficiently as possible. I’m blessed to have two role models in Joann and Albert, as well as my clients/friends. I am forever  humbled because without their support, I wouldn’t be able to do what I love.”

Black Skull Tattoo
Louie Hernandez

Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo

Photo credit: Lantern Lit Media

Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo
March 15-17, 2019

Instagram: evergreentattooinvitational

The genesis for the Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo came during an oil painting class that tattoo artist Joshua Carlton was teaching in his studio when he and one of his students Riley Smith got to talking about how serious tattoo shows were a rarity in their home state of Oregon.

Carlton had been to his share of conventions, and while he’d reflected on how incredible having such an event locally would be, he never considered it something he would put on himself. It wasn’t until Smith and wife Erin, owners of Lifetime Tattoos, presented Carlton with a plan for the project that it became a real thing.

The Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo also holds the distinction of being one of the very first shows anywhere where artists are hand-picked. “We wanted to concentrate on what it would be like if we got some of the best artists in one room, including artists from other countries,” says Carlton, owner of Black Brush Studio.

“You don’t necessarily have to be a rock star tattoo artist, but you need to have to have that spark in you and your work, that you’re really hungry to be known,” says Carlton, who has respectfully earned the right to assess talent based on his 30 years a professional tattoo artist, machine builder and author of the best-selling instructional book, “Advanced Tattooing Techniques: A Guide to Realism.” Oh . . . there’s also the prestigious Chaudesaigues Award in his showcase.

“I’m looking for people who are consistently putting out good, creative work, especially if they’re doing something new and innovative and exciting,” Carlton says. “I’m really looking for people who are the future of tattooing.”

2019 marked the sixth anniversary for the Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo, held in Eugene, Oregon each March. This year there were close to 300 artists representing 180 studios. Poch, Kyle Cotterman, Robby Latos, and Jessie Smith were just a few of the well-known names behind the buzzing machines.

Carlton, is so proud of the level of artists represented at the Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo that he and wife Nichole handcraft the awards for the various tattoo competitions. Winning an award is no easy feat. The rotating panel of judges is made up of professional tattoo artists who are scrutinizing every little aspect of the work. It’s not one style versus another, but rather which piece is technically and creatively the best. Carlton comments that the competition is so intense that often there’s very minute aspects of what separates the individual entries, and he encourages “arguing” among the judges and having them inspect a tattoo multiple times in measuring its merits.

Brady Payton, a realism and portrait tattoo artist from Kansas City, Missouri, earned Best of Show honors for the second year in a row. Photorealism and black & gray specialist and Empire Inks pro-team member Zac “Lefty” Colbert, from Waco, Texas, also impressed the judges, taking home a number of awards.

You’ve probably heard tattoo expos claiming to be “By artists for artists.” Evergreen Invitational Tattoo Expo takes that mantra very seriously. There’s no bands or sideshows to distract people from the tattooing. For the artists, there are seminars ranging from advanced color theory & techniques to financial foundations for a successful tattoo career. At many shows, artists are too busy to attend such classes, but Carlton schedules the Evergreen Educational two days before the convention so there’s no conflicts.

“They’re very intensive classes, and my hope is that it gets the artists fired up to work during the show,” Carlton says. “It’s kind of like the ‘Ted Talks’ of tattooing.”

“At the end of the day, the Evergreen Tattoo Expo is about celebrating tattooing,” Carlton says. “We might not have 15,000 people come through the door like some big shows, but all the artists are busy and they’re always are happy to come back. A lot of times, collectors will get three to five times over the weekend.”

“The real reward for me is being able to help the tattoo community by giving artists the opportunity to network and advance the industry,” Carlton adds. “Being able to walk around and see amazing tattoos still gives me that same feeling as when I fell in love with tattoos in the first place.”

Hold Fast Tattoo Company

Hold Fast Tattoo Company
Seaside, Oregon


Seaside is known as the see-and-do capital of the Oregon coast. Over a million tourists a year visit this resort town on the north coast just 90 minutes from Portland. They come for the fishing and surfing, to feed the seals at the Seaside Aquarium, to dig for razor clams and explore miles of flat, sandy beach. Seaside is also the destination for tattoo enthusiasts who plan their vacations around a stop at Hold Fast Tattoo Company.

Founded in May 2010 by tattooer friends Jen Knox and Brandy Rea, Hold Fast was envisioned as custom studio with an environment that emphasizes and inspires creativity. It’s not just tattoo art either — the 1500 sf main lobby serves as an art gallery displaying works of local and regional artists.

Jen and Brandy each have two decades of tattooing experience, and after working together for many years at other studios, felt their careers had plateaued and it was time to get the wind into their sails

“We wanted to be able to push ourselves a little bit further and focus more on doing custom stuff,” Brandy says. “We like educating people and helping them come up with something that’s special for them.”

Hold Fast gets its name from the classic nautical tattoo with the words spelled out on the four front-facing fingers on each hand. Sailors, like Brandy, an avid sailboater, hope it brings them good luck while gripping the rigging. The studio was almost called, “Admiral Booty’s Super Funtime Tattoo Emporium,” but as Jen explains, that was too big to fit on a business card.

Oregon, being one of the most heavily regulated states makes it a challenge to find professional tattoo artists to add to the team, not to mention somebody who also meshes with the unique personalities in the shop. Brandy and Jen call Jeremiah aka “Ginger Beard” their “unicorn” because he was such a rare find.

Octopus tattoo by Brandy

As you can imagine, being on the coast means inspiration for tattoos comes from the sea life and natural surroundings right outside the door. Hold Fast has a well-rounded crew, but if they had to pick a favorite subject matter, Brandy leans towards animal portraits; Jen for color-packed tattoos, especially florals; and Jeremiah goes for something evil like skulls, dragons or two-headed snakes.

While the trio love working on larger, more involved tattoos, and have a lot of local clients, being located in a tourist town means theres not always the freedom to spend time drawing up a design from scratch and having the client come back in weeks later to get tattooed.

“We take it as an opportunity and talk to them about what they want and make sure the design really fit them as an individual,” Jen says.

Tattoo by Jen

To ensure that every tattoo — big or small, looks super crisp and brand new, Hold Fast offers free touchups for six months after the piece is finished.

“I don’t want to overwork somebody,” Brandy says. “My take on tattooing is that I would like to have the option to touch it up. I think of it like a painting where you’ll block it out, but then you might want to do a little more contrast, etc.”

They have a “less is more” approach to aftercare as well.

“Aftercare has changed so much over the years as we understand more about how the body works. We recommend dry healing unless it gets really itchy and then it’s okay to use a little lotion,” Brandy says.

Rather than”bandaging” tattoos, fresh ink is protected with SkinLock, a petroleum-free hydrogel that solidifies to form a thin, transparent coating that maintains a moist environment, while still allowing the skin and tattoo to breathe. Hold Fast has seen awesome results, noting that SkinLock speeds the healing process by three to four days.

Fish Tattoo by Jeremiah

The transparent nature of SkinLock is a big benefit over bulky, inflexible non-transparent bandages.  “There was a time when we’d get off work, and see tattoo bandages in the parking lot, and it was disgusting and gross. Since SkinLock is clear, you don’t have to take off a bandage to show off your new tattoo,” Brandy says.

And showing off is what it’s all about —- Brandy, Jen and Jeremiah showing off their skills that allow their clients to show off a new side to their personality.

“I love my job, creating art and making people feel good about themselves,” Brandy says.

“We’re here to give people what they want,” Jen says. “We’re going to have our input, but we want people know that their ideas are valid — we want to make sure they get a fantastic, fun and long lasting tattoo.”

Hold Fast Tattoo Company
Seaside, Oregon


The Accommodating Attitude

Hi! I’m a huge fan of yours.

I’ve recently became a body piercer, and i finnished my trainning 6 months ago and has been working ever since. I have a question :

I pierced a client 1.5 months ago, and she just messaged me saying it is infected. What is the best way to explain to her that it wasnt my fault ? Since its from improper aftercare.

Thank you

**Pain Disclaimer: The question has been printed as it was received.

Dear K.,

Thanks for writing. I’m glad that you sent me this question, as I do have some important information to share with you.

First off, I want to say that I firmly believe it is our job to help troubleshoot any piercing problem a client has—regardless of who might be responsible. My guess is that your blame-deflecting attitude stems from the coaching and viewpoints passed along by your mentor. He or she must not share my accommodating philosophy, but hopefully this will change your mind and your methods.

If a client tells you via text or phone call that a piercing is “infected,” it is best to have them come in, or send you photos at the very least. It is extremely common that piercees think they have an infection (or “migration” or “a keloid” or another complication) when there is something entirely different going on. In order to offer appropriate guidance, always evaluate the condition of the piercing to be sure about the true nature of the setback.

For example, piercees and medical professionals alike frequently see a normal, healing navel that has become irritated and pronounce it infected. Some discoloration (pinkish, brownish, or purplish), secretion of clear or cloudy fluids, and induration (hardening of tissue) can all be present in a normal healing navel piercing. A misdiagnosis of infection is especially unproductive if a course of antibiotics is prescribed: the irritation will not be resolved, and the real cause of the issue will not be addressed. Often, all a piercee needs is reassurance from a piercing professional that everything looks normal (when it does).

If a piercing has inflammation from excess trauma, advice to change up activities or clothing, etc. will be warranted. Or, curtailing an overzealous aftercare regimen might be a simple resolution to an upset piercing. Other times, an adjustment to the jewelry style or size may be required. If excess scar tissue has developed, the suggestions will differ from what you’d propose for an infection, or an overgrowth of granulation tissue. These are just a few examples of the fact that input must be tailored to the individual problem.

In my experience, actual piercing infections (invasion and multiplication of disease-causing microorganisms that have a detrimental effect) are relatively rare, and other complications are far more likely to occur.

In the event that someone you pierced does actually contract an infection, it will require prompt attention. Left untreated, an infection can worsen to become extremely dangerous and, in rare cases, life threatening.

See below for some guidelines to offer if a piercee does have an infection:

Advise the client to see a doctor right away if they have any medical history of concern, (such as diabetes or an immune system disorder), or under the following circumstances:

    • They experience a fever, chills, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or
    • The piercing is very painful, swollen, has red streaks emanating from it, or there is a loss of function in the area.
    • They have copious pus discharge that is greenish, yellowish, or grayish.
    • The symptoms last for a week or markedly worsen.

Note that a doctor who is unfamiliar with piercings may be unsure what to advise or prescribe. For topical treatment of localized bacterial piercing infections, a prescription-only antibiotic cream or gel called Bactroban (mupirocin) is recognized as an effective medication. I encourage all piercers to cultivate relationships with local piercing-friendly healthcare professionals and educate them so that a list of competent referrals is available to share with clients in need.

Many minor (or “self-limiting”) infections are successfully self-treated. The skin will be red, swollen, and warm or hot to the touch, with localized tenderness or pain, and pus that is greenish or yellowish and foul smelling. It is possible to have an infection even if all of the symptoms are not present. Conversely, having several of them doesn’t assure that a piercing is infected.

If the condition is recent and/or mild, and the piercee does not take steroids or have a chronic illness or other health condition, you can offer the advice listed below to try for a few days. Numerous products for this purpose are readily available in drugstores.

The following suggestions are to be given for minor infections only:

    • Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to diminish swelling and tenderness.
    • Keep the area clean and perform mild saline soaks (i) and/or apply warm, moist compresses to encourage drainage and relieve discomfort. (Instructions are below.)
    • Apply topical over-the-counter antibiotic cream or gel (not ointment) according to package directions. This type of product is not suggested for routine aftercare, but now is the time to put it to use. Topical antibiotic products usually contain bacitracin, neomycin, or polymyxin B, alone or in combination, to fight different types of microorganisms. Combinations of the three ingredients work against a broader spectrum of bacteria, but allergic reactions to neomycin are common. They should immediately stop using the product and consult a physician if redness, itching, or skin eruptions develop in the area.

Warm Compresses

Wash hands and apply a clean washcloth or gauze soaked in water that is warm to hot—not scalding. Apply the compress directly to the area until it no longer feels warm, then reheat and reapply. Covering the compress with a folded dry towel can help maintain the heat for longer periods. Repeat for fifteen to thirty minutes, a maximum of ` times per day. Use only disposable products for washing and drying, or launder washcloths and towels with bleach between each use and store them carefully to avoid contamination.

An abundance of information on dealing with complications is available in my book (ii) and my updated troubleshooting eBooklet (iii).

Note that regardless of who is at fault for a problem, as the person who performed the piercing, your name and reputation will always be affiliated with it. Ultimately, healthy, healed piercings and satisfied clients are going to promote our businesses best. And patrons suffering with troubled piercings are not going to have anything positive to say, especially if they feel accused and abandoned.

Instead of blaming your client, it is much better to offer expert counsel and assistance. If a client does have an infected piercing, (or some other healing issue), even if you didn’t cause it, your duty is still to help as best you can.

Remember, body art is a service industry. I believe that the aid we provide should extend throughout the life of a piercing—and most certainly during the healing period. I happily (and regularly) answer questions and provide advice to clients I pierced years ago—sometimes even decades in the past!

This isn’t meant unkindly, but I do believe that an “attitude adjustment” is needed and I wanted to be honest with you about my perspective. I sincerely hope you find this useful, and that you will feel inspired to provide support and guidance to the piercees who patronize you and rely upon you.

(i) https://www.piercingbible.com/saline-soaks/

(ii) https://www.piercingbible.com/the-piercing-bible-book/

(iii) https://www.amazon.com/Piercing-Bible-Guide-Aftercare-Troubleshooting-ebook/dp/B00B3GNRMI/ref=as_sl_pc_tf_til?tag=elayneangel33-20&linkCode=w00&linkId=20db1ba353fab573ce4219791747fb64&creativeASIN=B00B3GNRMI