February 2020

Impermanent Ink

A Lasting Reason Why Temporary Tattoos are Good for Business

Blasphemy. Sacrilege. Insulting. Those are just few of the tamer responses to question we posed in a social media group for tattoo artists asking for opinions on temporary tattoos.

It’s not surprising, honestly, that professional tattoo artists would take offense to “stupid stickers” as somebody referred to temporary tattoos when their craft is creating permanent works of art. But there are two sides to every story. And this is a business magazine, with the overall goal of helping you and your studio to be more successful. So – if you’ll oblige for a moment, lets take a look at temporary tattoos from that angle.

Among all the naysayers, one voice spoke up and made a pretty good argument for the validity of temporary tattoos in a professional tattoo studio.

“For anybody who’s freaking out, saying that because a shop offers temporary tattoos, they’re disrespecting the industry, they need to see it as marketing strategy,” says Kirstin Rudolph, tattooer and owner of R2TAT2 (Art to Tattoo), in Vanderhoof, British Columbia.

At Rudolph’s studio, she offers a variety of temporary tattoos —- henna, decal press-on types, and original and custom designs that are printed on the special transfer paper with an inkjet or laser printer.

Not henna! Those are toxic, you say. Well, yes and no.

“Real henna is an organic compound, and if it is prepared in the traditional way, which is typically mixed with coffee grounds or tea leaves, some sugar and lemon juice, then it’s not toxic at all,” Rudolph states.

Black henna, as its evil step-child is often called, is not henna at all. The risks of black henna lie in the paste’s ingredients — specifically, a chemical called paraphenylenediamine (PPD) that can cause severe allergic reactions.

While Rudolph is trained in traditional henna designs, many of her clients request something more new school, such as geometric and art deco designs, feathers, fancy vines and leaves and flowers. “It’s usually women who get henna art, typically on their arms or legs. Once in a while, we’ll get a bride, who will be wearing a backless dress, that wants a design across her shoulders,” she says. “We usually make henna tattoos available on a Wednesday, so by the weekend they darken up and looks really gorgeous.”

People are most familiar with decal-type temporary tattoos as prizes gumball machines and cereal boxes. However, temporary tattoo designs have become very sophisticated in the past 25 years. In fact, most tattooed actors in movies have not committed to permanent ink — they’re wearing temporary tattoos created for their characters that can be removed when they not on set and then reapplied when shooting starts.

These are the kind of temporary tattoos that Rudolph sells at comic-cons with artwork related to the event wether it be Star Wars, Star Trek, manga or super hero themed. She also offers them at her studio,

adding to the family-friendly atmosphere.

While the parents are getting real ink, the kids can get a pseudo tattoo of their own — that will come off when they take a bath.

“Kids love getting put in the chair and getting the whole experience. They think that’s the best thing ever,” Rudolph says. “It really resonates with the parents when their kids can get a tattoo too. If they’re getting a tattoo that day, we just tattoo the kids up for free — it’s just a bonus.”

For adults wanting a custom design, Rudolph uses a product called “Tattoo Tryout,” similar to a stencil, but that can be printed in color or black & white, has photo-realistic quality, and can last up to a few weeks. The biggest advantage to a tattoo artist is utilizing them to help a potential client make sure they have no regrets about something permanent.

“To ignore that tool is just ridiculous. You’re potentially losing a client if you’re not willing to run out a temporary test,” Rudolph suggests. “The only other way to do a ‘test’ is to draw it right on the skin — that’s a really poor use of resources in terms of time and materials. A temporary tattoo, which can be resized or adjusted as needed, is faster, it’s more effective.”

If you’re still berating the merits of temporary tattoos, Rudolph says rest assured they’ll never replace the real thing.

“The people who get them aren’t going around saying, ‘I got a real tattoo from so and so.’ They know damn well it’s temporary. It’s for fun. That’s why they’re doing it,” she says. “It gets people in the door, looking at the portfolios, and who knows, maybe they get a temporary tattoo and then they decided they really love it and they want to do it for real — that’s a win in my book.”

Pain Classic: The B-52’s in 2012

Austin L. Ray

Back in 1977, a couple of the band’s friends were holding a Valentine’s Day house party at a place on Milledge Ave. in Athens, Ga., just across the street from where the Dunkin’ Donuts sits today. The B-52’s – a band that would christen itself after the beehive hairdo that bore an aesthetic similarity to a Boeing-designed strategic bomber – were playing for 25 or so people, who were dancing like crazy. The band set up in the foyer, the audience was in the living room. It was cramped, but there was a keg. Someone was taking photographs of hands, feet, dresses, legs. The floor was about to cave in.

On a warm Athens night in 2012, just about a mile and a half from that house, and 35 years nearly to the day of that very first, awkward, performance-art of a performance, the B-52’s played the Classic Center. But it felt less like a couple thousand people housed within a fancy venue and more like a gathering of old friends – ones who came bedecked in pinstriped blazers with leopard-print lapels, colored wigs, and lights draped or attached all over their bodies, but old friends nonetheless.

Unsurprisingly, it was also a tribute night of sorts to Athens itself. From local upstarts Tunabunny, who were recommended as an opener to Schneider by the folks at legendary local record store Wuxtry, to the local Terrapin Beer Company brews flowing in and out of flimsy plastic cups, to the “sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name” vibe of the crowd itself. The whole event practically screamed “quintessential college town.”

For their part, the B-52’s brought the party. Schneider’s speaksinging delivery, one of the most recognizable in all of pop music, still sounds great. Kate Pierson’s pipes are stunning despite three-and-a-half decades of wear, and Wilson and

Strickland strut like it’s the Seventies. Songs like “Hot Corner” and “Roam” earned massive responses, thanks in no small part to their Classic City connections, and the latter was especially emotionally resonant, pairing the group’s globe-hopping past with its homecoming present. They played a handful of tracks from 2008’s Funplex, and those songs went over fine, but it was clear on both sides that this was going to be a hits showcase.

Then there’s that moment when “Love Shack,” a ubiquitous cultural force, karaoke hall-of-famer, wedding dance-floor igniter and grocery-store staple, comes to life in front of a group of people and the group goes completely bonkers. Even the most steadfast of the crowd’s non-dancing throng seemed moved to stand up and shake it, if only just a little bit. The security guards even lost it.

With the recent disbanding of R.E.M., the B-52’s became the last remaining vestige of Athens’ college-rock origins, the final band from that first wave of talent that gave the town its first real musical presence, opening the metaphorical door for future bands as varied as Neutral Milk Hotel, Widespread Panic, Of Montreal and Drive-By Truckers. That history is not lost, it seems, even in one of Athens’ latest buzzy acts, Tunabunny, who opened the show with its noisy, art-damaged pop, receiving welcoming and rapturous applause in return for its unhinged music.

“Athens is a great place for music, and it’s not always perfect,” Tunabunny singer/guitarist Brigette Herron said as a precursor to the final song of the band’s set. “We have the B-52’s to thank for that.”

NorCal Tattoo Expo

November 1-3, 2019

Win-River Resort & Casino Event Center

Redding, California


Event promotors Josh and Brenna David have staged bridal, beauty, and health & wellness expos. One key to the success of such events is putting the right audience with the right vendors. They developed the NorCal Tattoo Expo through visiting other tattoo shows around the West Coast, networking with artists and actually collecting business cards from those they’d like to invite to their own event. “We met a lot of artists with really awesome portfolios and who were super friendly and down to earth — those were the kinds of people that we wanted for our show,” says Paul, a tattoo collector himself, and that being his inspiration for the event. “Our goal was to really focus on the artists — no live music or other exhibits — we wanted it to be like an artist gathering.”

“Redding is a small town with only a handful of tattoo shops, and people locally aren’t exposed to much unless they travel to get tattooed,” Paul adds. “The expo really gives the local tattoo community here a really feel for what else is available out there.” The NorCal Tattoo Expo welcomed 85 artists in its second year. The 2019 gallery included 40 specially selected guests who could then bring along another artist from their own studio or a favorite in thier area. The majority of artists came from California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado and one travelled all the way from Norway.

“Everybody was super chill and there wasn’t any kind of egocentric atmosphere. Artists were even getting tattooed by other artists,” Paul says. “With everyone staying together in the same hotels, and hanging out and eating and having beers together, there was a really cool vibe.” A thousand people through the doors over the thee-day event might seem like a small turnout compared to big city shows, but then again, the population of Redding is just over 90,000 and the Win-River Resort & Casino Event Center is fairly small in itself. In all, Josh says the size of the expo felt just right.

“Alot of the artists who returned from year-one, we’re booked with clients who they’ve met previously and had been waiting for them to come back so they could get tattooed,” Paul remarks.

Among the notable artists represented were: Curt Baer (Iron Mountain Tattoo); George Campise, Greg (Taco Monster), Ben Cheese and Dana James (Warhorse Tattoo); John Wilson (Scapegoat Tattoo); Wrath (Bulldog Tattoo); Thomas Asher and Lisa Del Toro (Last Chance Tattoo); Jeff Houston (Trigger Happy Tattoo); Khalil Justice Linane (Project Tattoo); Caitlyn Gale (Death or Glory Tattoo); Chris Astrologo (Captured Tattoo); and Jacui Alberts (Moonlight Tattoo).

Brian Wilson, owner/artist at Scapegoat Tattoo, in Portland, Oregon, won Best of Show honors. He earned prize package from Kingpin Tattoo Supply, CBD infused aftercare products from Pure Source Ink, a custom hand-painted award courtesy of Scott LaRock (Sideshow Signs), 200 bones to play at the Win-River Casino, and of course an invite and comped booth space for the 2020 expo.

“When I’m walking around, and every booth is busy, and you hear the machines running the whole weekend, it makes me super stoked,” Paul says. “It’s super cool when the artists come up here, have a good time and make money as well as having a connection with other artists. Getting to be a part of all that is the reward for all of us involved with putting on the expo.”

A Wicked Undertaking

Wicked Tattoo and Piercing

Peanut butter and jelly. Wine and cheese. Abbot and Costello. Whiskey and a pickle juice back.

The connection between these fragmented, grammatical abominations should be obvious. But in case you don’t follow, each consists of two things that when combined, become exponentially better than when they’re apart. What’s jelly without peanut butter? Nobody wants a jelly sandwich—and you can go straight to hell with that peanut butter and banana bullshit. That’s just Bush League.

Now, add to the list: Clay and Vanessa Welti, owners of Wicked Tattoo and Piercing in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.

For the record, their relationship wasn’t the theme of our conversation. We talked business; tattoos, piercings, industry trends, etc. The usual. Nonetheless, their connection was evident throughout by the way they fielded my questions. It was obvious they don’t just work together—they work together. But don’t expect a story of matching t-shirts and romcom-worthy shenanigans. For our purposes, it’s just a fluid business partnership that proves that two heads are in fact, better than one.

“It’s not for everybody,” Vanessa cautions when I bring it up. “I don’t think everybody could do it, no matter how much you like your spouse. There are sometimes when I turn to Clay and I’m like, ‘Wow, you never leave. Could you like, go guest spot somewhere?’”

“But,” she qualifies with a chuckle, “it is pretty awesome having your best friend beside you through everything.”

At the beginning, Wicked Tattoo and Piercing wasn’t so much the culmination of a lifelong dream as it was a necessary step for survival. Clay and Vanessa were both working at a local studio—Clay as a tattoo artist and Vanessa, a piercer—when they were notified the business would be closing within 10 days.

“So, we bought out the contents of the shop and opened our own,” Vanessa recounts. “It was just like, ‘Ok, I guess I’m opening a shop now.’”

The narrative might seem unique to the uninitiated, but it’s surprisingly common. I would estimate that at least half the shops I’ve interviewed began as a result of their previous employers going belly-up unexpectedly. I bring this up to Clay and Vanessa and they don’t seem surprised.

“I think those shops are usually owned by people who have no business in the tattoo industry,” Clay offers. “They all want to jump on the gold rush, but don’t understand how to mine it.” Fortunately, that’s not an issue for them. This may be their first shop they’ve owned, but it’s sure as hell not their first rodeo.

“Clay and I have 30 years’ worth of industry experience between us,” Vanessa offers. “We’ve worked in amazing shops and we’ve worked in shitty shops . . . the good, the bad and the ugly, basically.” From the outset, this patchwork of experiences helped them know exactly what they wanted, as well as what they didn’t want.

“We never wanted to be known as that hole in the wall tattoo shop that blares heavy metal music and makes you terrified to bring in your daughter for belly button piercing,” Vanessa begins.

“We try to make this place feel like a home,” Clay adds, “not just for us, but for our clients.”

“We want the space to be happy and cheerful,” Vanessa elaborates. “We want you to walk in and feel like you’re part of the family . . . like you’ll come back just to say hi because it was such a great experience.”

To this end, they’ve focused heavily on client interaction, being sure to always communicate in a manner that is both respectful and informative.

“We listen to what the clients want,” Clay explains. “We don’t just brush off ideas and say, ‘Oh, that’s shitty. I don’t want to do it.’ But, if there are aspects of their tattoo idea that won’t work, we’ll take the time to explain why and give them solutions that might make their vision more feasible.”

Further enhancing the client experience for which they are aiming is the open floor plan, which naturally encourages comradery.

“Everyone’s interacting with each other all the time, cracking jokes and having fun,” says Clay.

“We all start to play off each other and it just goes and goes,” Vanessa interjects.

“We’ll have clients come in who don’t know each other from a hole in the ground who end up chatting with each other to the point that they’ll get coffee together afterward,” Clay continues. “It really brings people together.”

If their Google reviews are any indication, their approach seems to be working. They boast an impressive 4.8 out of 5 stars—and that’s from over 200 individual reviews.

If you happen to pass through the greater Vancouver area of BC, consider stopping by and getting some work done. Whether it’s a piercing from Vanessa, or some ink from Clay, “Handsome Jack” McGinley, or Jacqueline Lee, AKA “Jaylee,” you’re sure to get the quality service you seek.

“Get more piercings! Get more tattoos!” Clay responds when asked for closing thoughts.

“And don’t be a dick!” Vanessa chimes in, before Clay comes back for the last word.

“Oh, and don’t forget to spay and neuter your pets.”

PAIN Willy Cutlip Interview


Willy Cutlip




Bad Apple Tattoo


Las Vegas

Years tattooing?



Illustrative, Neo-Traditional, Black and Grey

Obligatory question first: What originally brought you into tattooing?

I majored in art and didn’t really know what I wanted to do with it. I started getting tattooed and thought, “I could do this.” It took a couple years until I found a shop that I thought had decent enough artists who could teach me. I basically wouldn’t leave them alone until they agreed to take me on as an apprentice.

What tattoo artists have influenced your work the most?

I’m influenced by so many artists and friends . . . Dj Tambe and all the other guys I work with; James Tex, Josh Payne, Josh Duffy, Curt Baer, Jeff Gogue, Teresa Sharpe . . . the list goes on. I change up my style of tattooing/drawing often, so my influences are constantly changing.

Best part of being a tattoo artist?

Getting to do art everyday, and the fact that people walk around with it on them . . . constantly showing it off. People get to see the art I’ve done on a daily basis. It’s not just sitting on a wall, or put away in storage . . . It’s organic and changing and aging with them. There’s something about it that is just so rewarding.

As briefly as possible, describe a day in the life of Willy Cutlip.

Eat breakfast, take the kids to school, go to the gym, go to work, draw, eat lunch, tattoo, eat dinner, watch a little TV, get some sleep.

Best part of being a dad?

Getting to spend quality time with my kids and watch them enjoy things the way only a kid can.

On your Instagram page, you describe yourself as “Extremely happily married.” Could you elaborate on that?

I was married before, and at that time, I would’ve described myself as happily married. I wasn’t unhappy, for the most part. But when I met my current wife, I hit a new level of happy that I didn’t know was possible. My wife, Kris makes me happy in a different way . . . as if my happiness isn’t solely based on my outlook of our situation. I’m so happy in my marriage that sometimes when I talk about it, I have to stop myself because I feel like I come off as overly braggy.

Tell me about your “gym addiction.”

The gym is basically my religion. I lift weights to make my body and mind feel better and to hopefully live longer and healthier because of it. I wouldn’t say I’m dependant on it to keep me in a good mood, but it definitely helps. I do it to look and feel good about myself. We can sugar-coat it all we want, but vanity is a big part of who we are. I take a great deal of pride in my physical appearance. I also just like to feel strong and want to grow old with as little physical pain and limitations as possible.

Any parting words?

Life’s not all about bitches and money, but in the immortal words of Will Ferrel, “I wanna make bank, bro, I wanna get ass, and I wanna drive a Range Rover.”

Welcome Month – February 2020

It’s February 2020. The month of love; the Year of the Rat. That’s a total collision of Western and Eastern traditions, but why not? It’s a global economy. Let’s go with it.

We all have the Western half on lockdown. February is the month that Hallmark has conditioned us to spend money on our special someone. Relatedly, according to a study we just made up for this narrative, it’s also the month with the highest rate of horrible tattoo decisions. Therefore, as part of our public duty, we’d like to remind everyone to buy Fair Trade chocolate, and for the love of God, please tattoo responsibly.

Now, for the Eastern half. According to Chinese tradition, the Year of the Rat, which began on January 25, is the first year in their 12-year zodiac cycle. While every first year of the cycle is associated with the plague carrying rodent, only 2020 is specifically connected to the metal element, and is therefore dubbed, the Year of the Metal Rat. If you just pictured a buck-toothed furball in a tiny, sleeveless leather jacket, listening to Motörhead, congratulations; you’re normal. Now, back to the point. As the first in the cycle, the year upon us is one of renewal and rebirth, a time to make fresh starts and take on new projects. Interestingly enough, we’re simultaneously at the start of a brand-new decade, which in the Western tradition, carries basically the same sentiments.

This year, whether we buy into astrology or not, let’s take those good omens and run with them. Make 2020 your year of big strides and bigger change—and let us help.

Happy Valentines day and happy (belated) Chinese New Year. We hope you enjoy the issue. We’ll catch you on the flipside.