Tattoos, once associated with the military, convicts or motorcycle gangs, are now being embraced by mainstream society.
“People are more knowledgeable and put more thought into getting a tattoo. Instead of just going for something trendy, they will often choose something with meaning,” explained Tanner Richardson, a tattoo artist at Colfax’s Old School Tattoo Parlor. “Inks are different. And improved regulations have changed the tattoo business.”
A construction worker before becoming a professional tattoo artist seven years ago, Richardson pointed out that new, stricter regulations make the industry safer.
“It is a felony to tattoo anyone under the age of 18 in the state of California, even with parental consent,” he said.
CrayZman Alexander, owner of the Colfax business, and his wife, Ashley, have agreed their 2-year-old son, Harley, will make his own decision about getting inked.
“I got my first tattoo when I was 15 years old,” said Ashley, who manages Grandfather’s Station, the couple’s bar and grill on Railroad Street. “I have regretted it ever since. I think it is better to wait until you are sure of what you want. It is going to be something you will have for the rest of your life.”
CrayZman, on the other hand, doesn’t regret his decision.
“I gave myself a tattoo when I was 10 years old,” he said, adding he recently had a tattoo of Capt. Jack Sparrow inked on his side. “I was living in East San Jose. Those were the days before machines.”
While he no longer gives tattoos, CrayZman describes himself as “an ink pimp who provides a clean place to work so these guys can focus on their art.”
Richardson explained that modern technology and vibrant color inks makes tattoo artists think of skin as their canvas.
For detailed portraits or even infant-sized footprints, thermal-imaging paper is used to transfer the images to the body.
In other cases, the artist will draw the design with Sharpie markers before adding the permanent ink with the use of a small machine.
“It feels like a scratching, not the painful experience that freaks a lot of people out when they think of getting a tattoo,” said Richardson.
For Monique Stanley of Grass Valley a little discomfort is well worth the finished product.
“I have always liked tattoos. When I saw this picture it just jumped out at me,” explained the mother of four who works in the home health care industry.
“This is something I wanted to do for myself,” she continued. “Instead of going to a spa or getting my nails done, I come here to get worked on.”
In fact, Richardson has put more than 60 hours into the design on Stanley’s leg.
As CrayZman explains, “Cheap tattoos aren’t good and good tattoos aren’t cheap.”
The cost of a tattoo varies from studio to studio. Often, those who opt for a cheap tattoo will look to a more experienced tattoo artist to fix bad lines and fill in blotchy colors.
In Stanley’s case, it was to replace old and blurred tattoos with new ones.
When Dutch Flat resident Rochelle Baiocchi decided to add to an existing tattoo, she inspired her husband, Joel, to get one.
“I took a 1900s postcard of a trout and had it tattooed on my arm,” said Joel, an attorney specializing in civil law. “Several years ago when I was working in a high-rise with a big law practice, we had a mixer where several ‘getting to know you’ questions were asked. When asked ‘Who has a tattoo?’ about 30 percent of us raised our hands.”
Rochelle, a social worker, opted for a tattoo with meaning.
“I picked out a “J” with my son Justin in mind. Plus my husband, dad and goddaughter all start with J,” she explained. “I am cognizant of what I wear because of my profession. I think tattoos are more widely accepted in mainstream society.”
9/17/09 – by Marci Seither, Colfax Record correspondent