To Build or Not to Build

A Quick Word on Websites and Why They Matter in the Social Media Age

“Website? I already have Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Snapchat. I can get by without a website.”

You’re right. You can get by without your own website.

But you’re a self-employed artist competing with millions of others just like you. Since when can you settle for just getting by?

The ‘Why’ of it.

Because you’re a professional. Social media pages are important, but anyone can open an account and claim whatever they want. Having a professional website with a purchased domain sets you apart and shows that you’ve invested in your business.

Because you’ll have a semi-captive audience. As a self-employed entrepreneur, your social media pages shouldn’t be the final destination for potential clients, but rather the funnel to bring them to your page. As important as testimonials are, your clients still need to here your core message, free of distracting clickbait and critiques from self-appointed tastemakers. Your social media page is all about the here and now; quick snapshots of works in progress, happy customers, impromptu promotions, cross-promotions with other artists, etc. Your website is where they truly get to know you and who you are. The bio is your story, not your followers’ interpretation of your story. All the images in the portfolio are yours. No shared images, no memes, none of the general distractions. Your work. Your story. Your message.

Because it expands your digital footprint. Prominence in the digital world is all about accessibility. A well-designed website that adheres to the proper SEO protocols will go a long way to expand your presence and increase your reach.

The ‘How’ of it.

There’s a lot that could be said here, but we’re going to keep it limited to the basics for the sake of space.

Hire a damn professional. Everyone thinks they can build their own website, and to a point that’s true. You can always go the Wix route or even get a little fancier with WordPress—or you could even pass it off to your nephew who just built a page for his high school punk band. But think of it like a tattoo. Yes, you can always go to a scratcher, but chances are, you’ll just end up paying a real artist to redo the work.

Maintain a professional portfolio. Two things about this. First, photo resolution and quality. This isn’t where you throw up snapshots you snapped with your phone for Instagram. You want professional lighting, proper angles and solid resolution. Also, please wipe the lens before you shoot. Second, make sure your digital portfolio is navigable. When a potential client clicks on an image of interest, they should be able to then scroll through the rest like any other platform. If it’s set up in a way that it forces them to navigate back to thumbnails every time, they’ll lose interest quickly. Remember, the digital age has shrunk our attention span to the capacity of a Tic Tac. Make sure you cater to that reality.

Write a compelling bio. Once again, you may want to seek help from a professional for this part. But either way, when crafting this section, asking yourself this: Why should we care? In other words, what is the “it” factor that will keep the audience reading, that will help them truly connect with you? Stats are boring. Create a compelling story.

Maintain a sharp design. You wouldn’t go to an orthodontist who has teeth that look like they’re throwing gang signs. Likewise, clients generally don’t seek out artists who haven’t mastered basic design aesthetics. After all, layout and design is a facet of art. Your design should ultimately reflect you, your style and the space in which you work. Make sure it pops. Also, don’t bother with heavy media like Flash or excessive videos. No one’s going to wait for that shit to load. Remember what we said about Tic Tacs? It applies here too.

Make contact easy. Forms are what you fill out at the DMV. They can be useful for booking appointments, but for most people, they’re just a drag. When people are online, they want immediate gratification, or as close to immediate as possible. Facebook now allows you to incorporate your Messenger account directly on your webpage. We suggest you use it. It’s direct, it’s familiar, and it allows you or your staff to respond anywhere, anytime.

PAINful Hilarity: Rob Delaney in 2012

Austin L. Ray

By the time he got behind the wheel of his car, Rob Delaney had long since blacked out. At his friend’s apartment in Hollywood, he’d drank beer until the keg went dry. Then he switched to wine, then bourbon, then vodka, transitioning to a new booze each time the previous one ran out. He passed out on the floor of his friend’s apartment when the booze and his fellow revelers had finally disappeared. He was fine with this end to his latest night out, and his life’s path so far, until, later that morning, still blacked out, he put his car through a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power building, breaking his right arm and left wrist, ripping open both his knees to the bone. He’d end up wheelchair-bound and behind bars.

“When the cops told me I hadn’t hurt anyone else, I relaxed a lot and resolved to get better, whatever it took,” Delaney says. “I had been at peace with the fact that my drinking might kill me, but once it was no longer possible to ignore the fact that my drinking could—and, eventually, likely would—kill others, via automobile, I couldn’t do it anymore.”


Delaney’s uncle Steve—who’s been sober for 25 years—flew out after the accident to help his nephew through the difficult times to come. “We went to see a show at [Los Angeles improv company] the Groundlings,” Delaney says. “It was like being struck by lightning, and memories of the hundred or so times I saw Upright Citizens Brigade while at NYU came flooding back to me. I thought, ‘I must do this,’ and immediately enrolled in classes at the ImprovOlympic. That moment takes a windy-but-wide path to this moment right here. I’m misty-eyed thinking about it.”

Growing up in middle-class, suburban Boston, Delaney’s early exposure to comedy came through MAD magazine and his dad’s Bill Cosby albums, but comedy had yet to really take its hold on him. He sang, and acted in plays and musicals, but his upbringing was pretty normal in most ways. His parents owned an insurance agency while Delaney attended public school in Marblehead, Mass. After high school, Delaney moved to New York City to study musical theater and French at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He spent his junior year in Paris, where he studied French liberal arts, making good friends in a place he’d return to for years to come. After graduating, he gigged around in theater and television in New York, before heading for Los Angeles in hopes of more work. Fast forward a few years, past the accident, past his comedic immersion, and Delaney would give Twitter a shot). It wasn’t long before IT Crowd director Graham Linehan retweeted Delaney a few times, effectively alerting the masses to the burgeoning Twitter talent.


“Like everyone else ever,” Delaney remembers of his initial resistance to the social network, “I thought it was exclusively for saying things like, ‘I’m eating a sandwich,’ or, ‘I like dogs. Dogs. I like them.’”

Between his stand up (his shows run just more than an hour these days) and his many daily tweets, you wouldn’t be faulted for thinking that maybe he’s creatively tapped out most days. And yet, he’s working on a book, the first draft of which he’ll turn in to his editor soon. “It’s memoir/propaganda,” Delaney says.

Following the book and his seemingly-always-expanding tour schedule, Delaney plans to work on a television script and then prepare to record his debut album later this year. He’s modeling his career after Chris Rock’s in the hopes of one day being able to do stand up internationally while writing and producing TV and movies, and when you consider what that he can tweet an off-color joke one moment, only to spin on his heel and craft a quick, thoughtful essay on the atrocities of war the next, it kinda feels like anything is possible. Contradictory interests? Sure, but what is every single human being on this planet if not a complicated mix of emotions, pressures and anxiety, a mix to be struggled with and defeated now and then, if all goes according to plan?

“I’m very lucky that any success I have came when I was a little older, sober, married and a dad,” Delaney says. “So I know this is ephemeral. And I’ve been through enough to know that being kind is quite helpful in combating the shit-parade that life can throw at us. Also, even though I love it, comedy is also what I do for a living, so when I ‘clock out,’ I do find peace in just acting like a regular, boring dude.”



Name? Rick Meggison, AKA Flipshades

Shop? Full gypsy. I’ve been doing nothing but travel and tattoo for the last three years. #Tattourist!


Iron Quill Tattoo—Madison Wisconsin, Electric Panther—Little Rock, Arkansa, Philadelphia Eddies (the OG location: 621!), Studio XIII Gallery—Edinburgh, Scottland

Years Tattooing? 18.

So, you started before the new wave of tattooing when it went mainstream . . .

I was the last generation of underground tattooers. I had to make needles on jigs and solder them, make stencils . . . all that OG stuff. It was way before we had the internet to help. I mean, we had the internet, but back then it was Ask Jeeves.

What do you think about the emerging trend of niche artists?

I think it’s bullshit. I think they’re not tattoo artists . . . If you can’t do more than that one thing, you’re not a real tattoo artist. You can’t just go work in a tattoo shop and tattoo a client that comes in. You have to rely on all your hipster friends to pay your bills. You should be able to walk into any shop and build a new clientele of happy customers with a completely different name. I can do that because I was taught the core values of tattooing, which is what it all breaks down to.

Composition, color theory . . . So many “artists” now haven’t learned that.

Where do you draw the line between niche artists and specialists?

A specialist is somebody who’s done a bunch of different things and can do a bunch of different things, but has found a specific style that they do best. They’re still a technician that can put ink in the skin and make it look good no matter the style. A niche artist is just a one-hit-wonder.

How can we steer the new generation of artists in a better direction?

I think people need to be more respectful of that sacred knowledge. I’m not one of those people who thinks that new artists need to learn about needle jigs and build coil machines . . . but they need to at least learn the core values. There are a lot of new tools and techniques that they can use. . . but they need to be able to work without the shortcuts. Brushes on your iPad are great, but unless you’re making your own, you’re just using someone else’s work. You should be able to create that drawing on paper without the extra help if you need to . . . It all comes back to studying art, from the Renaissance on.

Northern Arizona Tattoo Fest

Northern Arizona Tattoo Fest: July 5-7, 2019, Prescott, Arizona

Photo Credit – Trevor Martin – Tee Shutters

Prescott, Arizona might not be the first place you think of for hosting a tattoo show. It’s a small mountain town in the northern part of the state with a population around 42 thousand. Add in that the Northern Arizona Tattoo Fest happens annually on the Fourth of July weekend, and you might wonder how they’d be able to attract anybody at all.

But as Tony Carey, who with wife Adrienne, puts on the show, points out, that specific holiday is a big deal in Prescott, bringing in upwards of 30 thousand visitors for Prescott Frontier Days and the World’s Oldest Rodeo.

“We have a really enthusiastic tattoo scene in Prescott,” Tony says. “It’s odd because Prescott is a retirement community, but the opposition to that is a lot of people have a lot of big tattoos and get excited about all different styles.”

Photo: Hawaiian Shirt Friday

The Northern AZ Tattoo Fest is an invite-only event. Now in its seventh year, the show caps the entries at 65 booths and 145 artists from the national and international tattoo scene.

“When we started out, it was just friends and friends of friends, and as the show has grown, we’ve been able to filter in new people, and a lot of the artists are the same ones that visit every year,” Tony says. “We want to promote high end tattooing, but also we really try to represent all styles.”

Among the big names in attendance were Tommy Montoya (Klockwork Tattoo Club, Covina, CA), Aaron Coleman (Immaculate Tattoo, Mesa, AZ) and Small Paul aka Hori Gi Sei (True Tattoo, Hollywood, CA). From across the seas, artists have travelled from Northern Ireland, Germany, England, Holland and Australia.

Photo: Aaron Coleman – Immaculate Tattoo

“Prescott’s slogan is, ‘Everybody’s Hometown,’ and that translates to what we’re doing with the tattoo festival as well,” Tony says. “The event ends up being like a summer camp for tattooers.”

The focus is on tattooing, but there’s also some live music to keep the vibe hopping. One of the traditions started by the artists attending is a Hawaiian shirt day, and plans are in the works for a Hawaiian luau to kick off the event.

In the daily tattoo contests, Best of Day awards — a giant set of steer horns — went to Nick Lawrence (Tat Fu Tattoo, Flagstaff, AZ), Marshall Rathburn (Voodoo Circus Tattoo, Grand Junction, CA) and James “Jimmyjam” White “Jimmyjam” (Infamous Ink, Poco Rivera, CA). So-Cal based tattooer Adrian Lazaro earned Best of Show.

Photo: Best Black & Gray Award

Even if people didn’t leave with fresh ink, they could take home a souvenir in the commemorative poster designed each year by a different Arizona tattoo artist. This year’s Rat Fink hot rod themed poster was the work of Tony Olvera and Mario G from Lady Luck Tattoo Gallery in Tempe.

“From a tattooer’s perspective (being involved with a smaller event) sets a certain bar and allows maybe some bigger and higher caliber artists to feel comfortable jumping on board,” Tony says, adding that it also means every artist can stay busy tattooing, which is a bit reason for coming in the first place. “I feel it resides on my shoulders to give confidence to the people that are traveling from all over that we’ll keep them busy.”

“The demographic here that gets tattooed are also pretty well educated as to what a good tattoo looks like,” Tony adds, “so it’s easy for them to see the merit in the art from the people that are part of our show.”

Pushin Ink

Pushin Ink Tattoo – Middleborough, Massachusetts

By Darin Burt

Meg Crowley is well on her way to her goal of having a tattoo empire.

Meg purchased Pushin Ink Tattoo six years ago after apprenticing at the Middleboro, Massachusetts studio under Jason Wheelright, another artist there who would also join her in the new venture. Later on, they would apprentice Nick Apromollo who now makes the third member of their little tattoo family.

Being located in the historic district of downtown Middleboro, Meg kept the name (partly to avoid a huge sign fee), but turned the once cluttered old school shop into a bright and welcoming studio. Some visitors say the new light green paint reminds them of a dentist office, but Meg doesn’t mind that perception because she and her staff have the utmost pride in cleanliness and safety and providing their clients the best experience possible.

Meg, Jason and Nick are good friends and like to collaborate on different kinds of artistic projects outside the tattooing realm as well. That could be anything from commissioned portrait paintings, murals and sculptures, creating their own illustrations for apparel and galleries, and even designing logos for other local businesses. One of their coolest projects involved joining other area tattooers, and even some tattoo fans, in painting designs on used and recycled skateboard decks, which were displayed and sold at this year’s Levitate Music and Arts Festival.

Not only did the custom decks show off another side to their artistic talents, but according to Meg, the project brought together tattooers and artists who will hopefully participate in more art shows down the road. Pushin Ink has hosted other art shows — last Valentine’s Day, the studio played host to an adult-themed event called, A Night for Lovers. Meg’s entry was a table featuring a close-up image of a vagina that she dubbed “One Night Stand.”

“Alot of it is just about trying something new,” Meg says. She adds that another benefit is local publicity created from such events which exposes tattooers and their talents to potential new clients.

“We’re all artists first who became tattoo artists,” Meg adds.

Portraits are Meg’s absolute favorite tattoo subject. “I love to tattoo portraits of people but I also have a lot of fun doing animal portraits,” she says. “I also enjoy tattooing realism tattoos — anything with architecture or girly fantasy stuff, such as gems and unicorns!”

Jason is a bio-mech/ bio-organic tattooist. Bio-mech, and bio-organic are styles of tattooing which takes inspiration from machinery and nature to create an abstract tattoo with a main function of looking awesome and complimenting the natural flow of a persons’ body. Both styles place an emphasis on texture and depth to make some really cool looking tattoos.

Nick likes tattooing mostly illustrative pieces that he can have a lot of freedom with the design. His style is a graffiti inspired twist on new school, traditional and neo-traditional tattooing. His favorite tattoos look bold with vibrant, saturated colors.

A quality tattoo in Meg’s opinion is one that, if you saw it on somebody walking down the street, would make you turn your head to admire it. The artists at Pushin Ink all have their favorite tools, but Starbright is the go-to ink. For aftercare they promote REDEMPTION™ Tattoo Care, the first and only USDA Certified petroleum replacement. They all work with rotary tattoo machines. Jason recently got a Bishop machine, and Meg and Nick use Xions from FK Irons.

One benefit from maintaining high standards is trust within the local community. As many as ninety percent of the current client list at Pushin Ink are members of the local police department. Pushin Ink gives back by donating paintings to an auction to benefit Captain Jack’s Quest for a Cure, started by a local officer whose daughter suffers from Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia.

Looking at the big picture, Meg hope one day to be “Pushin Ink” at more shops and spreading the love and the art with as many people as possible.

“It would be fantastic if all the shops are as close knit as we are here,” she says. “I treat my artists the best way possible and hopefully that will bring in the best artists to work at the shops. If the artists are happy then the customers are going to be happy too.”

The Importance of Sleep

Dear Ms. Angel,

You always have such good info so I hope you can help me. I am having trouble sleeping and I’m afraid it is starting to affect me at work. Sometimes it takes hours to fall asleep because my mind just won’t stop thinking about all of the stuff I have to take care of. Other times I conk out, then suddenly I am wide wake in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. I hardly ever sleep for more than a few hours at a time and never can seem to get enough. I am so tired during the day that I have to pound coffee and energy drinks just to stay awake. I think my hands are starting to shake now and that totally freaks me out. What should I do?
Thanks much, F.

Dear F.,

​You’re right to be concerned! A lack of sleep could negatively affect your performance at work, which carries increased risks for both you and your clients. Like the air we breathe and the food that nourishes us, sleep is crucial to survival—so a shortage of it is no joke. Sleep deprivation has been described as being similar to alcohol intoxication,(i) and no ethical piercer would work while inebriated.

You’re certainly not alone. Approximately 35% of adults don’t get enough sleep, according to the CDC. As they put it, “Insufficient sleep is a public health epidemic.” An estimated 50 to 70 million Americans suffer from some kind of sleep-related problems, and chronic insomnia (trouble falling or staying asleep) affects at least 10 percent of Americans.(ii) The effects of sleep loss can accumulate, even from a shortage of as little as an hour nightly, resulting in diminished attention span and focus, delayed reaction time, and problem-solving difficulties.(iii)

Sleep deprivation can also impact overall health and longevity. Too little slumber weakens your immune system so you’re more likely to get sick. The cumulative long-term effects of sleep loss are associated with a wide range of serious health consequences including an elevated risk of depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke,(iv) and even early death!(v) Sleep disorders are also linked to obesity and diabetes as they cause dysfunctions in metabolism, hormone production (including insulin), and blood sugar levels.(vi)

Most adults require seven or more hours of shut-eye a night for optimal health and wellbeing. The amount you get is important, but good sleep quality is also essential. High quality sleep includes the following:(vii)

• Sleeping at least 85 percent of the total time you’re in bed

• Falling asleep in 30 minutes or less

• Waking up no more than once per night

My advice is that you work to improve your “sleep hygiene,” the habits and practices that are conducive to fostering slumber. Below are some dos and don’ts:

• Avoid stimulants like nicotine and caffeine, especially after the morning. They can worsen sleep deprivation by making it harder to nod off at night. (And may be responsible for your shaking hands, at least in part.)

• A nightcap might help you to fall asleep faster, but too much liquor can disrupt the second half of your night as your body begins to process the alcohol. Moderation is key.

• Steer clear of rich, fatty, or heavy foods in the hours before bed. They can tax your digestion and be disruptive to sleep.

• Prioritize sleep and schedule it like any other important activity. Stick to the same timetable, even on weekends.

• Use a sleep-tracking phone app or fitness watch to monitor your nights. This will provide a realistic picture of how much you’re actually sleeping and the quality of your slumber.

• Create a sleep-friendly environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable, and cool. If necessary, use blackout curtains, eye shades, ear plugs, a “white noise” machine, humidifier, fan, or any device that makes your bedroom more amenable.

• As little as ten minutes of daily aerobic exercise such as walking or cycling can drastically improve sleep quality. Most people should avoid strenuous workouts close to bedtime.

• Keep a pen and paper right by the bed to jot down notes and to-do lists when thoughts come whirling through your mind as you’re trying to sleep. By putting your ideas on paper, you may be able to get them out of your head. This analog method also avoids the use of a phone to record or type in notes, as the light is not conducive to sleep.

• In fact, you shouldn’t use electronics before bed. The light can interfere with your circadian rhythm—the body’s internal clock. If you watch television at night, be sure you’re at least six feet away from the screen.(viii) Turn off bright overhead lights too. Adequate exposure to natural light in the day and darkness at night helps to maintain a healthy sleep-wake cycle.

• Practice a relaxing evening ritual to help your body recognize that it is bedtime. This could include taking warm shower or bath, reading a book, or doing some gentle stretches.

Drink a caffeine-free tea such as chamomile(ix) or an herbal sleepy-time blend.

• Use a diffuser or directly inhale soothing essential oils such as lavender, ylang-ylang, or lemon, which have shown positive effects in scientific studies.(x)

• Meditation is highly recommended. At its most basic, you can simply bring your attention to your breath. Focus on inhaling and exhaling. When you notice your mind has wandered, bring it back to your breath, over and over again. Additionally, there are various meditation apps—my favorite is Insight Timer. It contains over 20,000 free guided meditations and lots of them are specifically for sleep and relaxation. All you need to do is listen.

• You can try to make up for some lost rest with naps. Taking two naps that are no longer than 30 minutes each (morning and afternoon) has been shown to help decrease stress and offset the negative effects of sleep deprivation on the immune system. At the very least, try grabbing a 20-minute siesta on your lunch break, but do not nap too late in the day.

• Melatonin is a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycles. Some studies suggest that taking it as a supplement helps to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep, increases the number of hours you sleep, and boosts daytime alertness.(xi) Valerian root is a natural herbal sleep supplement that may help reduce the time it takes to fall asleep by 15 to 20 minutes while also improving sleep quality. Other types of drugstore sleep aids may be worth trying if your insomnia is short term, but they may leave you feeling groggy and hungover in the morning. Note that they’re not intended for long-term use or as a comprehensive fix. Take these for up to a few weeks only.

If you can’t find relief with these tactics, you’ll need to visit a doctor; a sleep specialist is ideal. He or she might suggest other treatments, and possibly prescribe something stronger for you. Again, you wouldn’t be alone: approximately 9 million Americans take prescription drugs to help them fall

Hopefully, you will find this to be a temporary issue. Try not to rely too heavily on medications, as that’s a slippery slope. Remember that sleep hygiene is the key to sweet dreams, so apply yourself to creating habits that will help to ensure successful slumber on a regular basis.



September 2019

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