January 2020

Piercing Children’s Ears

Ask Angel

Elayne Angel

Dear Ms. Angel,

I just started working in a new city where we are allowed to pierce kids’ ears. But I never got trained to work with kids because it wasn’t legal where I moved from. Obviously I know how to pierce ears, but I still feel like I could use your help. I don’t really have much experience being around kids and would love to have some tips. Also, what is the youngest age you pierce? Thanks for any help you can give me, O.

Dear O.,

I’m sure even the best and most experienced piercers could benefit from hearing how other professionals deal with the challenges of working with children.

I’ve been specializing in erotic piercings for years now, so it has been quite some time since I pierced any children. But when I did offer services to minors, I found that maturity and readiness vary, and not every youngster is ready by a certain age. I would pierce the earlobes of a child who was old enough to request the piercings (consent) and to understand what would transpire during the procedure and healing (comprehend). They’d need to agree to sit still and promise to comply with the aftercare instructions.

Obviously, this means I’d decline to work on babies or toddlers too young to grasp the situation, even though there were no local regulations to prohibit piercing them. I believe it is reasonable to set boundaries based on your own comfort level—regardless of the leniency of laws or studio policy. That said, it is appropriate to set a minimum age, and important to have an established policy on piercing minors with specific ID requirements. It should be printed to share with prospective clients in the studio and should also appear on the website.

Some piercers require an in-person consultation with the child at least 24 hours in advance of accepting an appointment, which I think is wise, especially if they’re under 10 years of age. This is an opportunity for the young client to meet the piercer, and vice versa. It helps to assure that the parent and child are suitably educated about the subject before proceeding. Having a waiting period after the consult also prevents impulsive decisions.

You’ll be able to assess whether the client seems motivated and prepared to deal with the experience. You will also be able to evaluate the parent(s), to see if they appear responsible and ready, too. During this meeting, it is advisable to go over the piercing process and the aftercare instructions, so they will know what to expect. You’ll have the chance to ask and answer any questions that come up, and go over jewelry options, too.

If asked, I think it is best to be honest and inform the child that piercings can pinch, sting, or even hurt, but not for long. You don’t want to scare them off, but rather, prepare them in a gentle but straightforward way.

When two piercers are available, doing the piercings simultaneously (“tandem”) is an excellent way to assure that both sides get done—especially if the piercee is extra nervous and/or very young. (This works great with nipple piercings on anxious adults, too.) Attempt to synchronize your movements for an optimal experience. Dealing with children and their families can take significantly more time, energy, and patience than it does to pierce most adults, so schedule accordingly and be prepared.

I asked a number of my esteemed colleagues for their input. Many thanks to Rich Hartwick, Jef Saunders, Becky Dill, and Lysa Taylor for their contributions. Below are their top tips and advice:

· Five years is my minimum age and I require a consultation at least a day prior. (Consults aren’t mandatory for age nine and up but are encouraged.) It sometimes weeds out the allows the child to experience the sights and A consult aren’t quite ready. whokids me, and go through a dry run of the procedure without doing sounds of the shop, meet appointment there’s more actualin for the they comeany piercing. This way, when jewelry instead of being overwhelmed by everything selectingexcitement about happening at once.

· y say they are done, we’re the ifthat the kid is in control, and I explain to the parent(s)g verythin. Just keep et there will be no restraining and no pressurethadone! I clarify explain what it’s going feel like.-over positive and upbeat and don’t

· Stock jewelry appropriate for your young clientele. Choosing jewelry together can start a positive dialogue.

· Consider being the sole service provider from start to finish, even if other staff normally handle jewelry sales, register checkout, or other client interactions.

· Ask the child if they feel ready to get pierced today. Sometimes the parent is ready, but their kid isn’t.

· Decide who is permitted into the piercing room and state this in your policy. It isn’t always a good idea to schedule kids back-to-back, especially from the same family. If the first one doesn’t take it well, the second one might cancel.

· Ask the parent how their child reacts to getting shots to gauge the reaction you might see.

· Talk about what’s going to happen and demonstrate on a toy or have a rehearsal.

· Give lollipops or other candy afterward (with parental permission). Let them know before the piercing that the treat will follow.

· Have some stuffed animals available for kids to hold when they’re in the piercing chair.

· “Controlling the room” is critical when dealing with families. Be in charge and be a firm guide. Do your best to be patient, understanding, and explanatory.

· See if the minor can voluntarily walk in, climb up, and sit down without any pressure or persuasion. Maintain conversation and find something you have in common.

· Watch their body language during cleaning and marking. You need to speak up if:

o The child isn’t listening or making eye contact

o They’re being rude to their parent(s)

o A parent is being too demanding of you or their child, or

o The parent is making the situation worse.

· Ditch the “baby talk.”

· Make physical contact before needle contact.

· Practice breathing with them and explain that they will act like they’re blowing out candles on a birthday cake when they get pierced.

· Know how to pierce both directions through a lobe, using a clamp and piercing freehand.

· Scared children may change their minds once things get “too real.” Don’t take it personally.

· Talk about healing times, swimming, sports, and aftercare, and provide care sheets specifically designed for children.

· Kids often sleep with wet hair, which can complicate healing. Warn parents that they should avoid this.

· Be mentally and emotionally prepared for tears, and for the minor to decide they don’t want to do the second piercing.

· It’s okay to say, “No.” If you feel that the client is not ready or if doing the piercing will surpass your own boundaries, don’t hesitate to decline, postpone, or call it off.

Be aware that you will be faced with some challenges when dealing with young clientele. Still, if you can muster the patience and apply some of the techniques and suggestions listed above, you should be successful. You’ll likely find that it is incredibly rewarding to provide a positive experience for a child’s first piercings—and to be involved in creating memories that can last a lifetime.

Attitudes and Policies

Ask Angel

Elayne Angel

A few topics have come up recently that I wanted to address, so this month’s column is a discussion rather than a Q & A.

A woman contacted me for an online consultation and I was quite shocked at the placement of her piercing. She’d gone to a local studio for a triangle piercing but ended up with a long barbell through a small amount of tissue at the juncture of her inner labia and clitoris, which was far south and forward of where it should have been.

I messaged the piercer (which I often do for my consult clients) and sent him an image that the piercee had provided. I annotated the photo to show where the piercing should have been located. I inquired about the source of his training and also included a link to the page on my site that covers the triangle piercingi. I explained that it was my intention to share information in the hopes that he would be amenable to learning and improving. He responded:

Thank you very much for bringing this to my attention, and for doing so in a professional and positive manner. My mentor was a woman and she trained me on genital piercings, including triangles, during my apprenticeship back in 2000, so I’ve been doing this for very near 20 years now. But you made me realize that I had no idea what I was doing when it came to this piercing.

I’m more than happy to give the client a full refund and I’m going to stop offering this service until I can get some further education. I plan to get properly trained up so this won’t happen again. I’ve followed your career for many years and have lots of respect for you. Thank you for everything you do for this industry.

I really appreciated this piercer’s honesty, humility, and desire to learn. This approachable attitude earned my full support, and I’m doing everything I can to help bring him up to speed. I offered to share my PowerPoint presentation about the triangle piercing, which he eagerly accepted. I’m confident that the course materials will clarify where the piercing should go, though I issued some disclaimers: the information was not a substitute for hands-on training with a qualified mentor; and, viewing my seminar content in no way meant that he had been trained by me.

He appreciated my disclosure about a similar incident from years ago, when another piercer had the same reaction to being contacted about an improperly placed triangle. (I see a lot of them.) He later told me it was just the wake-up call he’d needed, subsequently got suitably trained, and is now a respected colleague to whom I refer clients!

On the other hand, I had another situation recently in which a woman received a triangle by a different piercer. That piercing was much closer to properly placed, but one side of it was too far forward. This resulted in the jewelry resting at an outward angle on that side, causing excess irritation and discomfort.

Even this gentle message I sent was met with a much less amenable response:

I want to say that we are all human, and we all do piercings that don’t come out as intended, myself included. It is evident that you do know where a triangle piercing should be placed, and I believe that you planned to position it perfectly. But that’s not how it turned out. (I can only imagine how hard it is to do a triangle piercing freehand!)

In any case, the client returned, and you agreed that the piercing was off enough to redo it, which was my assessment as well. I think it is always reasonable to offer a redo. However, she was uncomfortable to have you perform it again, which is also understandable. Therefore, I believe it is entirely appropriate to give her a full refund for the piercing fee.

Even if you have a general “no refunds” policy, I feel that this would be a time to circumvent it. Would you reconsider your decision and return her payment for the service fee? That seems an appropriate solution to the issue and would satisfy a client who did get a misplaced piercing.

This piercer became defensive. She talked about having an extended consultation in which she assessed the client’s anatomy as “borderline.” She said that the woman’s VCH was “barely healed (possibly a bit tight/swollen), which complicated things.”

She defended her “no refunds” policy, feeling it sufficient to offer a complimentary redo in cases where placement is off. She said, “In this case, our policy is more justified after the consultation I had with her expressing my concerns about her anatomy.” But, after hearing this history, I believe that the piercer should have declined rather than perform the piercing—at least at that time. When a customer desires a certain piercing (even if adamant about getting it), we are not obligated to accommodate them. It seems the best thing for everyone would have been for the piercer to postpone.

My opinion is that we should never perform piercings we don’t feel good about. In researching this article, I saw surprising number of piercers stating that they wouldn’t offer a refund on a piercing that was placed where the client insisted (but in a spot they didn’t approve of). Every piercing you do should meet your standards for placement, and each piercee should fulfill all requirements for suitability, regardless of how persistent or pushy they act.

I wouldn’t want my name and reputation associated with any sub-optimal piercing, whether related to their requested placement or inopportune timing. You should politely decline if the piercing would be unaesthetic. And you should postpone if there’s a fresh piercing nearby, as in

the example above, or due to ill health, or any known lifestyle factor that might contribute to healing complications such as upcoming travel to the beach or intensive athletic training.

I also want to touch briefly on the topic of “fault.” I frequently hear the victims of poorly placed piercings reflect the voice of the practitioner saying, “Oh, it is my fault because I moved.” Unless the piercee moves just before the puncture commences, I blame the piercer. We pierce every day—that’s our profession. We should know that, in response to being stuck with a sharp object, some clients will move. Therefore, I feel it is our own responsibility to prepare for that eventuality, and to be skillful enough to manage our procedures effectively and safely. Please don’t blame your clients for your own errors, and be accountable for your actions.

Naturally, when a piercing doesn’t turn out right through the fault of a piercer, the patron should have the option to be repierced at no cost. But piercing is a service industry that commonly entails a fair amount of anxiety (or genuine fear), and discomfort (or some actual pain) for our clients. Therefore, I feel very strongly that if the piercee does not wish to undergo to the needle again, they should be entitled to receive a full refund of the service fee.

Finally, I want to encourage all of us to remain open to learning, improving, and growing as piercers. Seeking ongoing education and being receptive to constructive input can only make us better at what we do. i https://www.piercingbible.com/piercing-information/female-genital-piercings/triangle-piercing/

Stop Playing the Guessing Game

Take the Lead to Find Out What’s On Your Client’s Mind

Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s an adage that rings true in the tattoo world. Don’t prejudge customers who walk into your store just because they don’t fit your image of somebody who gets tattooed.

There was a time when the stereotype of only bikers, sailors and jailbirds getting inked was pretty true. But those days are well in the past. One recent survey found that contrary to popular belief, more women (40%) than men (36%) have tattoos; 32% of young people age 14 to 29 have a tattoo compared to 45% of people age 30 to 49 and 28% of people over 50.

Prejuding your potential clients is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. A good rule of thumb is to treat a customer as if they are your grandparent, a dear friend or family member — basically just like anyone else, according to Chris Coltran, sales expert and author of the book, “Selling to your Grandmother.”

“Do not hinder your sales by thinking someone either has or does not have money based on their appearance,” Coltran writes in his book. “This is the best way to lose a ton of business, so don’t fall into this trap. People do not wear a sign around their neck that says they are wealthy.”

People with real money are usually the last to flash it. As Dr. Thomas Stanley pointed out in the Millionaire Next Door, people with real wealth are more likely to drive pickup trucks than BMW’s.

So don’t judge. Start your relationship with a conversation. The more questions you ask, the more useful information you’ll get. If you don’t know what’s needed (or if it’s really needed), how can you help the person get a tattoo or piercing they’ll be proud to show off for a lifetime? It’s a technique called, “Qualifying” and it’s what the best sales people do in any business.

Qualifying is determining whether or not that person who called to find out about your services is worthy of the time and effort it will take for you to convert him into a customer. That’s right — “worthy” of your time and effort. Your time is valuable, and once gone, you can’t get it back. So it makes sense to use it as wisely as possible.

Here are three questions that will help you qualify your client:

For what reasons are you looking to get a tattoo or piercing? What triggered your decision to come into our studio? What’s made this so important or urgent?

How can I best help you make this decision? Every prospective customer has something holding them back. Whether it’s budget or not being entirely sure what they want, you want to find the hurdle that’s preventing them from taking a seat in your chair. Ask your what you can tell them about or offer them that will help them say, “Lets get started.” Remember to listen to their unique challenges and fears.

What is your budget? The budget is arguably the most important part of a new artist-client relationship. That’s why almost 60% of shoppers (of any product or service) want to discuss pricing before anything else. Talking about budget expectations up front can help you understand where customer falls in being serious about getting that tattoo, and you can also get an idea of where they can

fit within your pricing strategy and if they’ll be able to afford your services. For both you and your client, you need to find a way to create a deal everyone is happy with — but don’t devalue your work simply to put some coin in your pocket.

Quit playing the guessing game when it comes to connecting with clients. If you want to stop missing out on quality clients who are your best chance for repeat business, stop assuming that you know what’s on their mind. Instead, let them tell you — even if they don’t realize they’re doing it.

I Will Not Be Categorized (But My Tattoos Will)!

A Novice’s Guide to Tattoo Categories

Categories are artificial constructs. They’re parameters we’ve created to assist our tiny brains in making sense of an infinite universe. Be that as it may, they serve a purpose, and while artists may resent the restrictive box in which categories put them, they also rely on them to communicate their strengths and proclivities. Art defies classification but its commodification demands it. To meet that demand, we’ve summarized the most commonly agreed-upon tattoo categories for your convenience. We recommend you open the magazine to this page and leave it on the counter for your clients. Then, be sure to tell them that the information is incomplete. Of course, it is. Art is far too nuanced and steeped in historical context to cram into a single paragraph, but we did our best. Enjoy.

Old School Traditional

If your gramps has any tattoos from his Navy days, it’s almost definitely in the Old School Traditional vein. This is the style that started it all, at least on the American front. The origins can be traced back over centuries, but the style underwent a sort of renaissance in the 60s and 70s with the rise of artists like Norman Collins (AKA, Sailor Jerry), Bert Grimm, Lyle Tuttle and Don Ed Hardy. It’s defined by bold, black lines, bright colors and iconic imagery such as swallows, anchors, pin-up girls, hearts and roses.

Thanks in no small part to its role as the foundational style of Western tattoo culture, it will never go out of fashion, even if Ed Hardy apparel has, which was unfortunately hijacked by a subset of dudes who overspend on spray tans, hair gel, and Axe Body Spray.

Neo Traditional

Exactly what the name implies, Neo Traditional is an extension of the category that first made tattoos famous and is sometimes difficult to distinguish from its predecessor. The primary elements that delineate Neo Traditional from Traditional are a broader color palette, wider range in imagery and increased intricacy in designs. The style is heavy on the decorative and pulls elements from both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco traditions.


Though Realism has existed as a category in visual art for centuries, it’s only become prominent in the tattoo world in the last two decades, and its rise can arguably be connected to the simultaneous surge in popularity of the rotary machine. The easiest way to describe this category is as a photograph slapped on skin. It manifests most often in the form of celebrities, iconic characters, loved ones, or animals, but the style revolves more around form than subject, so pretty much anything that can be photographed is fair game.


Take a guess at what this category imitates. Did you guess “that paint medium I tampered with in kindergarten?” If so, you are correct, but don’t be so diminishing. Watercolor may be a beginner format on the canvas, but not on the skin. Techniques in this category break with a great many traditions and therefore require a degree of risk, as well as nuance and acute attention to detail. The “bold will hold”

crowd is quick to denounce the style, but it’s in high demand nonetheless and boasting some impressive output.

New School

New School is basically neo-folk art. Pulling heavily from the Traditional and Neo Traditional categories, the style employs bold lines and vivid colors, but diverges with a focus on cartoonish, pop culture icons delivered with a significant amount of shading for depth and dimension. Since its origin in the 70s, the category has been on a roller coaster of popularity, rising and falling nearly as quickly as the subjects it most often depicts. It has recently enjoyed yet another rise in prominence, most likely as a result of the video game generation joining the ranks of both tattoo artists and collectors.


Originally, the word, “Chicano,” was a derogatory term ascribed to American-born Latinos of Mexican descent. The slur, however, was eventually embraced as a badge of honor by a portion of the community, and came to represent a specific movement of style and art that uniquely married a heavily Catholic sentimentalism with the gang culture of the emerging barrios of the 50s and 60s. Typically executed in fine line, black and gray work, Chicano tattoos are unmistakable with imagery rich in Mexican history, Catholic icons and various elements of cultural identity within the Mexican-American experience.

Traditional Japanese

Also known as Irezumi, the Traditional Japanese style dates back to the 17th century. Lush with the imagery of Japanese mythology, tattoos in this vein are lavish and elaborate, often requiring a sizable portion of the body for execution. The power of the category lies in the fact that every piece tells a story that is steeped in Japan’s vibrant and colorful history. Traditionally a marking for the warrior class, the style was adopted by the nation’s legendary crime syndicates, which is the primary cause of the cultural stigmas on tattoos in Japan today.


How do you explain a realm that defies categorization? Such is the dilemma when discussing Illustrative tattoos. Ultimately, “Illustrative” is the catch-all term for tattoo art that doesn’t fit within any single category, either because the artist has pulled inspiration and techniques from several categories, or because they’ve ventured outside those realms altogether to create something entirely new. Most commonly, the category combines techniques of Traditional and Realism, but elements of all sorts of artistic disciplines can come into play, including but not limited to calligraphy, etching and engraving, charcoal, or even abstract expressionism.


Still think Traditional is the original tattoo style? Don’t be so ethnocentric. Tribal is the true OG, with a history stretching back over millennia. Though easily recognizable, the category is really a blanket term for any variety of tattoo art practiced by indigenous people groups over the centuries. Tribal tattoos are nearly always all black and usually consist of elaborate patterns that rely heavily on symbols and geometric shapes. Though it enjoyed a surge in popularity in the 90s, the style fell out of general favor in the 2000s and unfortunately became a punchline for hipsters who thought their Super Mario tattoos

were somehow more legitimate. It is beginning to make a comeback, and it’s one that’s well-deserved. The mother of all tattoo categories shouldn’t be relegated to the arms of white guys who wear iridescent Oakleys and worship Sublime.


The Blackwork category can encompass almost any tattoo that solely employs the color that is technically not a color (black). However, it is most commonly either an extension or merging of the Tribal and Illustrative categories, with most compositions consisting of geometric shapes, abstract patterns and/or elaborately detailed illustrations. Though limited on the color palette, the possibilities here are nearly limitless with plenty of room for experimentation, making the category one of the most diverse and awe-inspiring on the list.

PAINful Drinking: SweetWater Brewing Company in 2011

Austin L. Ray

In February 1997, Freddy Bensch founded SweetWater Brewing with his Boulder, Colo., high-school buddy, Kevin McNerney. Fast-forward 14 years, one important move from Fulton Industrial to Ansley Park, and myriad national awards, and Bensch, whose official brewery title is Big Kahuna, finds himself at the helm of the 18th biggest craft brewery in a country with more than 5,000 of them. That’s no joke!

Bensch and guys behind SweetWater Brewing Company in Atlanta are some “heady” so-and-so’s. They, um, like to partake of the good things in life. Chances are they read Pain’s sister publication, Headquest. You get what we’re saying right? Wink wink, nudge nudge? Anyway, here’s a chat with a man who’s managed to lead a huge, successful business all without switching out of his aloha shirt and flip flops. There’s something to be said for that.

Describe your first beer experience.

Jesus, I guess I should’ve read up on this. [laughs] I’ll tell you what we used to do out in California where we grew up: St. Ides forties. The sticker on the bottle said, “This beer contains the highest alcohol of any beer on this shelf.” As a 16-year-old, of course that resonated. With our fake ID and all, we proceeded to buy as many as we could fit on our bikes, and we drank ’em all. Let me tell you, I didn’t feel the same for two weeks.

You’ve spent a lot of time sitting at this bar in your tasting room. Thinking back, do any notable people who you’ve shared this room with come to mind?

You never know who’s going to walk in the door. I could talk to you or someone who’s driven up from Miami. Blondie read a fucking four-hour poem in here one time. We brought her in for

Michael Goot’s [former SweetWater “Beer Pimp,” current owner of Ormsby’s] birthday party, and she wrote and read a poem. It was never-ending.

As a part of SweetWater’s expansion and renovation, you’re increasing your barreling capacity by five times: 100,000 to 500,000 barrels. That’s a pretty staggering figure.

When it’s all said and done, we’ll go from being able to do what we’re doing now to double that, with the propensity to take it further. Out of the gate, we’re not gonna go that big. Theoretically, on paper, you could do it, but right now, we wanna focus on quality of beer. We have this saying, “Local beer for local folks.” The further you push your beer out, the worse it is for the environment, the higher the opportunity it has to go out of date, the less people know about who we are.

You mention the environment, and the forthcoming solar array on the rooftop is part of the renovation, but do you think craft brewers in general are doing enough to lessen their impact on the world around them?

It is mind-blowing the ways you can actually participate in that area. In our industry, you have ample ways to participate in that. I think the low-tier, easy-hanging fruit? I think we are. Our community is very oriented in that fashion. But once you knock off the low-hanging fruit, I think it becomes more difficult in that you have large, monetary things. Across the board, it gets spendier. But as an industry, yes, I think we’re very much about it.

“We take pride in being a street shop.”

Wait . . . really?

Simmer down. It’s not what you think. Not quite, anyway.

Within the tattoo industry, the term “street shop,” has come to be a term of disparagement, bordering on anathema. For many, it represents everything they’re trying not to be; an anachronism from a bygone era when tattoos were more of a sign you could endure pain than they were a work of art.

But that’s not the kind of street shop Jose Ramos is talking about. When the managing partner of Denton Tattoo Company talks of street shops, he’s speaking of a level of accommodation, too often lost in the increasingly exclusive custom studios.

“It’s based on how we treat our customers,” he explains. “We want our customers to feel like they’re family, not like they’re being rushed out or they’re unwanted—or that their business is unappreciated.”

“Nowadays,” he continues, “you go into certain shops, and they’re too specialized in whatever niche to give you what you’re looking for—and they’re booked out a year in advance anyway. We want to be able to help those people who just want to come in and get tattooed.”

“And introduce them to tattoo culture so they’ll keep coming back,” adds Lara Wilmeth, AKA, Midgar Zolom, the newest of the shop’s six artists. “Cause when they go to a bourgie shop and get thrown out because their idea was too simple, if that was going to be their first tattoo, they’ll probably never end up trying again. We don’t want to do that to them.”

“Besides,” Jose adds, “someone’s first simple tattoo can often lead to an awesome sleeve.”

Lara’s involvement in the conversation reveals a lot about the vibe of the operation. She only recently completed her apprenticeship. Were she working at any other shop, she’d likely be relegated to a back corner to take her lumps and pay her dues for years to come before being allowed so much prominence as to participate in an interview. But that’s not how they operate. That notion of family Jose mentioned applies just as much to the staff as it does to their customers.

It’s about working together,” Jose says. “It’s not cutthroat here. We try to eliminate that as much as possible. You’ll get your occasional hothead, but we weed them out quickly.”

It’s important, however, not to confuse their propensity for accommodation and acceptance with a tolerance for mediocrity. Regardless of how they prefer to self-identify, they’re not a turn and burn flash shop, nor are they price-haggling bottom feeders.

“We pride ourselves in putting out quality work,” Jose affirms. “You get what you pay for with us. The prices are reasonable, but not cheap . . . That can be a challenge because we’re in a college town. A lot of the kids are looking for the best deal, rather than looking at the work quality of work that you’re paying for. But we never want to send someone away. Instead, we find out how to accommodate them on what they want while working in our recommendations. That way, they’re happy in the moment, but even happier in the long run.”

This ability to accommodate is enhanced by their diverse roster of artists, which ranges widely in both style and experience. Starting with original owner and founder, Rob St. Pierre, a 30-year veteran tattoo

of the industry, going to Jose, a specialist in realism and detailed line work with nearly two decades under his belt, all the way to Lara, their initiate who’s already showing an incredible amount of promise, they have someone for everyone who comes in. And for those who prefer holes to ink, they have an accomplished piercing artist as well.

A quick perusal of their work on social media will attest to the fact that they’re churning out quality. They suffer no shortage of reasons to brag. But Jose isn’t given to bluster. He’ll let the work speak for itself. Everything he says steers the focus back to the atmosphere of acceptance and humility he and Robert have worked tirelessly to foster.

“We’ve been here 13 years,” he says. “We’re one of the longest-running shops in Denton. And that success goes back to how we treat the customers. You can be a phenomenal artist, but if you’re disrespecting customers, we don’t need you here. Hollywood’s got plenty of space for you. Go there.”

Victoria Tattoo Expo

Victoria Tattoo Expo

Victoria, BC, Canada

October 25-27, 2019


The Victoria Tattoo Expo is the only gathering of its kind in Victoria, British Columbia, on the Southwest edge of Vancouver Island. Within the local community is a unique fusion of arts and culture, and tattooing is a big part of that confederacy.

“There’s a lot of indigenous culture and traditional tattoos are very welcome on the Island,” says Ash Woods, who with husband Will, tattooer and owner of Peppermint Hippo, are the organizers of the event. The pair also stage a show in Lethbridge, Alberta, where Ash says there’s a preference for “minimalist tattoos” with fine line, minimal shading and ornamental kinds of designs.

“We try to bring as many different styles of the industry together as we possibly can, just to give the public an idea of what’s out there,” Ash says. “We try to bring together a wide variety of artists and attendees, so everyone can build their network — they’re not only doing tattoos for the weekend; they’re also growing their families.”

The Victoria Tattoo Expo hosted 137 tattoo artists — the majority hailing from the Canada, and drew more than 4,000 fans over the three-day event. The number of tattoos that get done throughout the weekend — some 1,500 by Ash’s count, is pretty amazing, especially when you consider that less than a hundred thousand people live in Victoria.

The plan, according to Ash, is to keep the show at a manageable size so that everybody is able to be involved in the entire experience. Prior to the doors opening this year, Ash gathered artists for a whale watching excursion where they got up close and personal with orcas and humpbacks. To close out the show, everyone got together for a goodbye dinner party.

“There are a lot of talented tattoo artists in Canada,” Ash says. “A lot of them are kinda quiet and don’t stick their faces out there — not everybody gets in a magazine or wants to be an Instagram star, so it’s nice to go to shows and be able to meet new artists you may not have known about before.”

Diego Chagall, a Colombian tattoo artist based at Dynamic Studios in Kelowna, BC, earned Best of Day and Best of Show awards. He received a Cheyenne Sol Nova tattoo machine and Hawk power supply, a thousand dollars cash and very unique trophy created from a resin sculpture of a hippo skull.

Monty and Leslie Ricken, a couple who give new meaning to collaboration, won Best of Day on

Saturday. The husband & wife tattoo team own Monster’s Ink in Medicine Hat, Alberta

Liz Venom, an Australian artist living in Edmonton, where she owns Bombshell Tattoo Galerie, captured Tattoo of the Day on Friday.

It was a full-on inked experience with freak show acts from Monsters of Schlock, burlesque performances and live shibari (Japanese rope bondage) demonstrations.

“The idea was to bring in different aspects of the tattoo culture to give people an idea of what’s out there and get them out of their box,” Ash says. “Everybody had a great weekend, everybody was busy and everybody has a great time.”23132132123135451561512315313215315165151