Photos Rob Smith
Q: In your opinion, what are the best elements of being a tattoo artist?
A: I would have to say the fact that we literally get paid to draw on people. Most of the time, people come in with an idea of what they want and then rely on us to develop a design. That’s a lot of trust for something that will never wash off. I mean, it will literally be on their bodies for the rest of their lives. I sure did come a long way from the crayon box. Look, Mom, I made it! Meeting new people and hearing their stories is very rewarding also. Sometimes our clients get a tattoo to commemorate someone or something. Then again, sometimes it’s just something funny.
Q: What is your least favorite part of your job?
A: My least favorite element about doing what I do is the late nights. Being an early-riser, I feel more compelled to want to tattoo early and finish early. However, there is an unspoken rule: One shalt not be tattooed before 1:00 p.m.. I guess people don’t wake up early and say, “You know what would feel nice right now? Getting stuck continuously for hours before my first cup of coffee.” So, this message is for people that want to get tattooed early. Holler at ya boy, Josh Schuver. I’m here for you.
Q: How old were you when you got your first tattoo?
A: I was probably nineteen or twenty when I did my first tattoo on actual skin. It was absolutely beautiful- no- actually, it was horrible. I get a daily reminder of it, as it’s above my right knee. Every line is blown out and wobbly. It’s really a piece of work. It’s the size of a golf ball and took me nearly two hours because I couldn’t get the machine to run correctly. It was a bad time, but from that first tattoo, I knew that this was what I wanted to do.
Q: How would you advise covering up an ex’s name?
A: Well, first, don’t do it. Second, try finding a new girlfriend or boyfriend with the same name. If those don’t work, you could always put a void stamp over it, so you can put your new significant other’s name underneath it. Coverups are always unique. They must be designed for the specific tattoo we are covering. Some things just can’t be covered or covered well, so we recommend laser removal treatments. However, when we are going to do a cover, we tend to look at things with a texture like floral, hair, bone, feathers, or even scales.
Q: Who were you lashing out against in your life when you decided to become a tattoo artist?
A: I wouldn’t say I was lashing out when becoming a tattoo artist. I’ve always done some form of art. I just never thought I could make a living doing it. When I was seventeen, I first walked into a tattoo shop and thought it was a cool environment. I noticed a sign that said, “We tattooed your mom first.” I knew then that this was for me. My parents supported my career choice, even though neither of them had a tattoo at the time. Now, my mom has a ring of Celtic knots around her ankle. My dad is lifting weights, trying to get his arms in shape before he gets his first one.
Q: Have you ever felt compelled to talk someone out of a tattoo choice?
A: Yes, all the time, though, it’s not always design related. Sometimes the issue is the location of the tattoo. Hands, neck, or face are areas I will shut down immediately. You know, because they haven’t reached that level of pirate yet. Hands, neck, and face tattoos can eliminate job opportunities for that person and almost always labels them in society as unacceptable. Although tattoos are becoming more acceptable in the workforce, I don’t feel it’s quite to that point yet. Other times, people come in with an idea that is not meant to be a tattoo, or the details are so dense that you would have to draw it the size of a two-story house to get the details. We always try to work with the client and find common ground in these cases. We can still give them a great tattoo that will last. Unfortunately, some clients do not budge, and we usually see them trying to get a coverup later.
Q: On what body part do you recommend getting a tattoo?
A: Well, I always tell people to “get what you want, where you want it.” Some areas are going to be more sensitive than others. The ribs will be much more sensitive than- say- your shoulder. However, it’s forever, and I wouldn’t compromise what you want based on the pain of a location. If a client has no preference on site, I’m going to an arm.
Q: Has society’s perception of tattoos changed since you’ve been in business?
A: Yes, and for the better. I mean, we are still pirates with the occasional gold tooth and hand, neck, and face tattoos. The stigma in the industry has cleaned up a lot as tattoos become more acceptable in the workforce. You see more and more people with them. We tattoo people that you would never think to even have a tattoo: doctors, lawyers, first responders, the list goes on. You never know what they have tattooed under their suits. It’s been a group effort in our industry to lift the stigma.
Q: What ink trends have you seen over the years?
A: Trends in tattoos have changed constantly. We have artists specializing in multiple styles, so it’s easy to see the trends based on how busy they are from month to month. Ten years ago, we saw a ton of tribal tattoos. Now, it’s very rare. Today, social media makes the call. We may have three people walk in one week wanting a lion. The following week, three people walk in wanting fine line flowers. Regardless of what it is, it tends to come in waves.
Q: What is the funniest or most awkward tattooing situation in which you found yourself?
A: As a tattoo artist, I get a lot of dirt. Why people think tattoo artists are therapists, I’ll never understand. However, a session can get interesting. In this one instance, I was doing the name of a woman’s stepson and birth date. She was very excited. She wrote the name and birth date out for me so I could redraw it in a nice cursive script. I placed on the stencil. As she looked in the mirror to give her approval, she talked about how much the tattoo meant and how all her tattoos must have a meaning.
She went on to say she didn’t understand people who just got random flowers or whatever. She liked the image, so we sat down and began the work. Boom! We were done; she checked it out and loved it. She left, and everything was good. About an hour later, the woman returned to the shop, wondering why I had messed up. I didn’t know what she was talking about. She said the date was wrong. I showed her the paper that she had written the name and date on. She now has a nice random flower to cover her mistake. A meaningless rose that she loves. She later got the name and date tattooed in a different area.
Q: How would you describe the atmosphere at Artistic Edge Tattoo?
A: The vibe at Artistic Edge Tattoo is laid back. We all cut up, laugh, and have a good time. It’s a daycare for adults! At the same time, we are professionals. Many people who come in for their first tattoo have an image in their mind expecting to be greeted by an intense, crazy person. Instead, they get me hollering, “Welcome to Moe’s!” just to see their reaction. We have a good time for sure.
Artistic Edge Tattoo & Piercing
Rome’s Premier Tattoo Studio
11 East 2nd Avenue Rome, GA 30161