A lot of people say, “Oh, I’m looking for a tattoo.” I say, “Do you know that you’re never too old to get a tattoo?” When I was younger, it was not a problem, but now it gets pretty overwhelming. There are so many options, it’s hard to find things that aren’t weirdly or radically different from your usual tattoo. You never know what’s in the store, which isn’t very reassuring. We’re in a pretty high-demand industry, and I guess the only way to keep it interesting is to keep expanding.
Do you get any criticism for being too extreme?
I don’t go out of my way to criticize any of my clients on any of their tattoos. You have to have a certain level of creativity to be able to look at something and say—no, I love something so much, it’s worth doing more of it. A lot of it’s art in and of itself, there’s no need for an extreme tattoo, because the way a lot of tattoos have become in the course of the last 20 years, there’s a certain amount of risk involved with them that is really just going to alienate some customers. I don’t feel bad for them. I don’t expect a lot from any kind of tattoo, but I don’t take responsibility for what other people do.
What do you enjoy most about the tattoo business?
There are just so many people in the business, it’s incredibly fun. When I started out, I didn’t think I could do this. I thought that maybe I could do two or three years, and I would be successful, and I would be very well-respected. But I learned a lot along the way. I think if I had not had that support of family and friends to come in when I was in this phase, I would probably never have gotten to this other place, because I think I would still look more like I was 25, which is a very different person.
Photo by Alex Koyfman for the New York Times
Why do you believe that people are attracted to tattoos?
I can’t really pinpoint it, what kind of attraction I think is there. I think that there’s this myth out there that tattoos make the person. That the body has a certain amount of self-expression, and maybe there is a link, but from my experience, it’s more because you don’t want to live with that shame, because you don
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