Why they do it…

I’ve always wondered the story behind why artists begin tattooing. Why is it so appealing to make artwork but use a needle instead of a pencil? Skin instead of paper? There has to be a raw story that conveys the deeper meaning behind an artist’s career path. I was set to find it.

I began my search in the town over from mine. It was a Sunday… that was my first mistake. Most tattoo shops, most stores even, aren’t open on Sundays, but the one I looked up nearby conveniently was. I walked inside to find a small, quiet area, with an artist drawing up a piece. I introduced myself right away. I’m not trying to sell you anything. I’m not looking for my first tattoo. I couldn’t even get the word “video” out before the man began to look nervous, his eyes widened, and his posture completely changed. My next move was walking out the door after he turned me away.

Well, damn, I wasn’t prepared for that at all. All of the posts on INK It Over that I’ve worked on so far, I had the easiest time getting volunteers to share their work and stories. I learned sometimes that tattoo shops can be a little sketchy… Maybe it was for the best.

I didn’t lose hope from my first bad experience. However, I did realize that on a Sunday, the odds were not in my favor and I should probably take a different approach.

Tuesday… Before I began driving around all over looking for shops to visit, I decided to call. Why didn’t I just call in the first place? Well, I thought by me just walking in, artists would have to talk to me because I was there, smiling, and standing in their face. How could they possibly turn me away? Yeah, well, they did.

My first three phone calls were a complete success and my journey just excelled from there. One shop’s phone number was out of service, but hey, that’s none of my business. I was thrilled to hear artists telling me that I may have to interview them while tattooing. What a better way to share their story to how they got started and why they do it.

Is it hard for artists to focus while tattooing and talk at the same time? In my experiences getting tattooed, sitting with an artist for over four hours each session, I found that conversation is what makes the time fly by. You can’t run away from an awkward conversation or thought. Well, you can but it’s not recommended. You really get to know a person for that amount of time.

“This is a very personal business, you gotta be personal with clients.” -Dave Azma Knauer, tattoo artist for 7 years.

I may not have found a crazy, deep, emotional meaning in Dave, Pete and Brian’s backgrounds with tattooing, but they all have a pretty cool story to share.

“I can’t really see myself doing anything else.” – Brian Gormley, tattoo artist for seven years.

What I learned:

  • Sunday is not a good day for anything but relaxing.
  • Videos are not always an easy thing to get depending on who you’re talking to.
  • Going into a tattoo shop and not getting a tattoo may cause depression, anxiety, and other forms of “Why am I not getting a tattoo right now?”
  • Tattoos are addicting.
  • Actually, I already knew that. ^

Featured Shops:
Mythic Ink – Pitman, NJ
Evolution Tattoo – Pitman, NJ
Sinful Art – Clayton, NJ


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