Dani, Danielle, Mum


Urge 3 Tattoos



Penticton BC


Years tattooing?

I’ve been tattooing 10-ish years. It’s hard to nail down a number as the first couple years were put on hold by babies. So, I was understandably VERY part time while raising them, now 12 and almost 14, and can’t reasonably count those couple of years as full years of experience.


Preferred style?

There are so many styles I love to tattoo, but if I had to put a name to it, I’d say illustrative traditional. Bright and bold is the name of the game.


Biggest influences?

My influences change all the time. There are just so many artists that I admire for so many different reasons, but usually I find my most influential people are the rad, seasoned artists I’ve had the luck of working with over the years.


How did you become a tattoo artist?

How did I get into this? (Laughs.) It’s a weird, winding story with lots of ups, waaaaay more downs, and some shit in between. Allow me to condense. As a teen (16 or 17) I was offered a piercing apprenticeship I assume was based purely on my looks. Let’s just say, I was extremely “alternative,” (Laughs.) 


So, I accepted, because it sounded cool, and plugged away at that while trying not to fail miserably at high school. Eventually, the owner of the piercing shop sold his business to a tattooer who offered me another apprenticeship, this time tattooing. By that time, I had already realized that piercing was fucking gross. It made me queasy every time and was clearly not for me. So again, I accepted.


I stayed for a couple more years but after continually butting heads with the owner of the shop, as well as dealing with my own demons and addictions, I decided it was not the right time for me to continue that endeavor. Fast forward a few years, I have my ducks in a row and a baby, plus another on the way and a really great life. My husband helped to convince me I’m in a good place to pick up the machines again. Tada!! Thanks Max! He helped boost me up when I wasn’t feeling so confident in myself. I can say for certain I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for him.


What is it like working for Jeff and Kirk at Urge 3? Blink twice if you are being compelled to mislead.


(Rapid blinking) 


Just kidding. It’s awesome working with Jeff and Kirk! First of all, they laugh at almost all my jokes. What’s not to love about that?! Jeff cares so much about his shop, how it’s run and the happiness of employees and clients alike. It is truly a pleasure to work with such a big heart hearted, professional dude.


And Kirk is Kirk lol. Super smart guy and an incredible tattooer. Gruff around the edges but actually very kind and is quick to offer help and suggestions if he sees the need, which is great. I’ve spent more of my career working on my own than not, so it’s awesome to have both these guys in the same space to bounce things off of.



I like connecting with people. I like knowing that I’ve made an impact (good, we hope!) on their day, or week, or whatever! There’s just such an immense positivity that comes with tattooing that I feel privileged to be a part of.



The stress! Ohhhh, the stress. Obviously, as with anyone, we all have our strengths and our, well, not-so-strengths. (Laughs.) My main stressors come from challenging designs and balancing my time. The challenging designs thing is a catch 22 because once it’s done and I’m happy it’s a great feeling, but sometimes getting there can be a fucking process! Balancing my time is difficult as I have another full-time job as well; being a mum to two super rad kids that need me, a wife and keeping my house from imploding. One is always pulling at the other, but I come from a long line of blue-collar work horses, so it would be like this no matter what I was doing—this, I know.


Any parting words?

Parting words. Stop getting infinity symbol tattoos! (Laughs.) But really, in parting I want to say thanks. Your questions made me really think and focus on some points that I think I’ve been taking for granted. Upped my gratitude level for the day exponentially.


The First Rule of the Okanagan

Urge 3 Tattoos and Why

We Can’t Talk About the Region


Located just a few hours east of Vancouver, the Okanagan is arguably Canada’s best kept secret; an epicurean dreamscape of endless wineries, orchards, breweries, and more cannabis dispensaries than Starbucks locations, all of which surround a lake so massive that it maintains its own unique microclimate for the region. As a result, the Valley, particularly, the southern end of it, is one of the only places in Canada where you can enjoy t-shirt weather in October. 


In review, that’s bearable weather, free healthcare and legal weed, all in one place. To play on the old cliché, that’s cake, both possessed and consumed simultaneously.


“Don’t fucking tell anyone. You’re gonna ruin it for us.” 


Jeff White gestures with an exaggerated mafioso backhand as the words sputter out of him. His tone is jovial and it’s clear that he’s mostly kidding. I suspect however, that the previous paragraph will still have his ass puckering at least a little. Overdevelopment is becoming a plague. Sorry Jeff. 


We’re sitting in his tattoo parlor in Penticton, BC. It’s a town that’s just big enough to be called a city, nestled between the mountain ranges at the southern tip of Okanagan Lake. The shop is called Urge 3 Tattoos and it’s the third of a loosely associated trilogy of parlors bearing a common namesake. The first of the three is located in Victoria, BC and has been in business since the mid-nineties. 


“A trilogy?” Jeff breaks in, laughing. “Well, it’s not like, Lord of the Rings or something.” He’s right, at least for his location. It’s more like the original Star Wars; timeless and forward-thinking, while its appeal is at least somewhat rooted in nostalgia. 


Aesthetically, there’s no mistaking the shop for anything but modern. It’s too clean, well-lit and inviting of a space to have been a tattoo shop in any era but the current one. Yet, the entire space is one big homage to the roots of modern tattoo culture. From nearly floor to ceiling, the walls are all but covered in flash from every era while the room hums with a chorus of buzzing coil machines, used exclusively at all four stations. There’s so much to unpack here. 


“I feel like a tattoo shop should look like a tattoo shop,” says Kirk Shepherd, Jeff’s co-conspirator. “This is just stuff we’ve collected over the years. Some of it’s mine, some of it’s Jeff’s, and a lot of it is stuff that we liked and traded for. We still have ton more in cabinets. We’re eventually going to try to frame and hang all of it.”


“Kirk enjoys Japanese style over anything else,” Jeff adds while pointing to the northwest corner of the room, “so all of the pieces over in that area . . . those are all his handiwork.” 


With 45 years of tattoo experience between them, Jeff and Kirk both represent the last wave of artists to take up the machine before the industry’s shift from the margins of culture to prime-time TV. As such, they now serve as torchbearers in a sense for the long-held traditions of the trade that are too often overlooked by the younger generation. They learned the true rudiments; how to make their own needles, build their own machines, mix their own inks, create acetates—all of it. 


They didn’t sit still after their apprenticeship, either. Both of them have travelled extensively, having worked internationally and learned from experts of a variety of traditions from around the world, and both have made a hell of a name for themselves here in the Northwest. 


When they discuss the industry they’ve called home for two decades or more, they speak with the authority of veterans, but with the passion and openness of initiates. They have nothing but love and appreciation for the huge strides the trade has made over the last two decades, but they simultaneously lament the inflation of their artistic currency. They welcome the new influx of suburbanites into the ranks of the marked with open arms, but openly fret over the one-and-done, microwave attitude encouraged by Instagram and Pinterest. In short, while they’re not the least bit stodgy, they maintain an admirable sense of history and tradition. 


They also aren’t the biggest fans of rotaries. “People are now tattooing with electric toothbrushes, dildoes and whatever else you want to call them,” Jeff laughs. “We still all tattoo with doorbells.” He smiles and holds up his coil machine. This, of course, triggers a lengthy discussion. 


“But aren’t you able to get better detail with a rotary?” I ask. Keep in mind that I’m just writer—not an artist. I only know what the artists tell me. 


“It’s not really because of the rotary,” Kirk explains. “You can actually do finer detail on a coil. It’s just that most people, their apprenticeships sucked. They don’t know how to tune in a coil machine. The rotary really just does one thing. It’s the same every time.”


“Like the old infomercial,” Jeff adds. “’Set it and forget it.’”


“Exactly,” Kirk responds. “You can actually get a lot more techniques out of a coil machine, but if you don’t know how to tune it, it’ll run like shit.”


“Huh,” I nod thoughtfully. “So, really, it’s a lot like the ‘Mac versus PC’ debate, huh?” 


Kirk smiles. “You could say that, I guess, but I prefer carburetor versus fuel injection.” In my five years of writing for the tattoo industry, they are the first artists to ever give anywhere close to this level of insight.  


Thankfully, they are passing their wealth of knowledge along. Right now, it’s going to their apprentice, Mercedes, a friendly and incredibly promising artist who’s been sitting in with us and regularly contributing to the conversation. 


“They’ve taught me how to build my own machine,” she confirms as the coil discussion meanders along. “They even taught me how to build needles.” 


 “Next, we’ll be going over acetates,” Kirk says, nodding.


Rounding them out is their latest addition to the staff, Dani Doll, a ten-year veteran of the trade who specializes in illustrative traditional. She just joined the team this past July after a six-year stint with Art Therapy in nearby Osooyos, BC. 


Among the four of them, there’s not a weak link in the group. It’s an impressive roster they’ve cultivated with an even more impressive portfolio, all of which is rooted in traditional, but rich in a formidable diversity. 


But don’t tell anyone. The secret of the Okanagan must be kept. 


You’re welcome, Jeff. 


COVID Considerations

Dear Elayne,

Due to the pandemic my studio was closed until recently. Now that we are open, everything seems so weird and complicated. I was talking with the other piercers here about just getting it over with and not even trying to avoid catching the virus. We’re all young and healthy, so I feel like we should be OK. But maybe it would be better to wait for this to be over when we have the vaccine? If you think we should wait, what are some tips to keep us and our clients safe?

Thanks so much,


Dear N.,

First off, allow me to strongly advise against lowering your guard or doing anything to contract the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 intentionally. While it is statistically less likely for young, healthy individuals to become seriously ill or die of COVID-19, it does happen. Nobody is guaranteed a benign outcome once infected.

Understandably, much focus has been on the staggering death toll caused by the virus (currently over 211,000 in the US). However, there is something that might ultimately be an even more serious crisis: survivors debilitated with “long COVID.” Months later, many who got sick are suffering from ongoing conditions related to many of the body’s systems: neurological, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, immune, etc. Patients are enduring a broad spectrum of symptoms, including severe fatigue, shortness of breath, persistent cough, muscle aches, joint pain, memory loss, lack of concentration, depression, loss of smell and taste, and other maladies. Experts don’t yet know the exact percentage of COVID long-haulers, or the duration their ailments will persist, though some victims are expected to have permanent damage. Long-haul COVID occurs in plenty of young, formerly healthy individuals, including those with cases that did not require medical attention.

Therefore, you and your colleagues should do everything you can to minimize your risk at work and elsewhere. A primary defense strategy involves limiting the time you spend with other people, especially indoors. Naturally, this is challenging in a retail environment, but you can take measures to reduce potential exposure. Maintain a minimum of six feet distance from everyone in the studio, except when performing piercing and jewelry change procedures.

Work by appointment only and provide clients with an online release form to fill out in advance. Close your waiting room, keep the door locked, and admit only piercees and scheduled jewelry shoppers into the studio (one at a time, and no friends or family). Decline to pierce minors since a parent must accompany them. Create a comprehensive aftercare video you can share, instead of delivering verbal in-studio instructions.

Do not let anyone remove their mask on the premises and decline oral and nasal piercings, even if permitted by local law. Not all masks are equally effective. Don’t permit the use of neck gaiters, bandanas, styles with valves, or single-layer face sdcoverings in the shop—they’re not sufficiently protective. For your own safety, supply disposable surgical masks at the door to clients arriving unmasked or with a sub-standard model. Alternatively, have masks printed with your studio name and logo and distribute those.

It is vital to consult an HVAC expert to ensure that your building’s ventilation is optimized. Use a HEPA filter in your piercing room, and possibly the retail area, too.

You should be aware that many COVID-infected people are asymptomatic; the current best estimate is approximately 40-45 percent of cases. Their viral loads are about the same as symptomatic patients, and they may shed virus longer than those who feel ill. So, we must behave as though all of our clients and coworkers are positive and could transmit the disease.

Many businesses take patrons’ temperatures upon entry, but this will not be helpful with those who are asymptomatic. A more effective measure is the proper use of a fingertip pulse oximeter. This inexpensive, easy-to-use device is readily available online. It determines the percentage of oxygen in the red blood cells. Many with COVID-19 have low blood-oxygen levels (hypoxemia), even when they are feeling well. You can pierce someone with a normal pulse oximeter reading, which ranges from 95 to 100 percent. Values under 90 percent are considered dangerously low and indicate a potentially serious respiratory issue. Anyone testing at that level should be referred for immediate medical intervention. 

Vaccines will be a vital tool in the fight against this coronavirus, but unfortunately, they will not allow life to immediately return to normal. There will likely be multiple options, given that over 200 candidates are in development worldwide, and 35 in human trials. Success depends upon how effective they are and how many people get inoculated. Additionally, it is unclear whether a vaccine—or natural infection—will impart lasting immunity, as a number of reinfections have been documented. Vaccines will be approved once verified to be safe if they prevent disease or decrease symptoms in at least 50% of those who receive them. Interestingly, all of the COVID-19 vaccines being studied are intended to reduce the occurrence or severity of illness, but not transmission of the pathogen, (though nearly all vaccines normally do). 

I was stunned by this revelation because a vaccine that stops transmission would reduce the entire population’s overall exposure to the virus. It would protect people who may be too frail to receive or respond to a vaccine, those who do not have access or refuse to be immunized, and those whose immune response fades over time. This could mean the only way to get rid of the virus would be near-universal immunization, which is unlikely to occur. All that said, when a properly vetted vaccine is available, I am definitely planning to get one. In any case, widespread manufacturing and distribution could reportedly take years.

Sadly, this is the “new normal,” and it will be with us for some time to come. But we have to move forward, live, and work as safely as possible. Use good judgment and be consistent and unwavering in following all safety protocols—as piercers should already be accustomed to doing. Check the website of the Association of Professional Piercers for more professional guidance on piercing in the era of COVID-19.

December 2020 Welcome

Is it really December already? Did we make it? It’s an odd feeling when the urge to celebrate our survival of 2020 overtakes December’s typical festive traditions.  

There’s no melodrama or moroseness intended here, though. It was just an unprecedentedly tumultuous year.  A plague, an economic collapse and mass riots, with threats of murder hornets and apocalyptic comets; that’s not your average trip around the sun. 

For the greater part of the tattoo and piercing community, it was touch and go there for quite a while. For many, that’s still the case. We’re not out of the woods yet; Covid-19 case numbers are still surging and ebbing around the country like a giant game of whack-a-mole and our leaders have yet to get a lid on the situation. We’ve felt the crunch. 

We want you to know that we’re here for you, to continue to keep you informed and connected, as well as act as a source of comfort and inspiration through these trying times. Stay connected with us, not just through the print magazine, but also through our digital offerings. We’re in this together. 

Meanwhile, we’d like to wish you all the happiest of Holidays and a very, very delightful, cataclysm-free New Year.