Well, I finally got the courage up to go into an actual tattoo shop, as opposed to just lurking around shops’ websites and artists’ TattooNOW profiles. After work on Friday, I stopped in at Red Rocket Tattoo, which I chose not only because it’s highly acclaimed and very convenient, but because every one of the portfolios on their website is full of great-looking work.
After a somewhat awkward initial exchange with the person (artist Betty Rose) who greeted me (“I’d like to make, uh, an appointment or whatever for a, um, consultation, or however it works? I don’t know how it works…”), I settled into looking through the resident artists’ portfolios, while surreptitiously observing the staff and clientele…
It was really fun looking through all the portfolios at the shop; they were much more extensive than the online galleries. While all the artists had great books, I was most drawn to Adam Hays‘ and (owner) Mike Bellamy‘s work. Adam’s artistic wit and subject matter really appeal to the ink nerd in me (look for an Ink Nerd feature soon), but Mike’s obvious mastery of many different styles won me over in the end.
Eavesdropping on a conversation between Mike and a recurring client gave me more confidence, as he was friendly, helpful, and full of great ideas for how to flesh out a half-sleeve to make it balance better with the other arm’s ink. My favorite part was when Mike whipped out a felt-tipped pen and began drawing on the guy’s existing tattoo to illustrate his thoughts.
I finally spoke with Mike, and launched into my ideas for my next tattoo (I think I’m narrowing in on it, now that I’ve had some time to think about it), and showed him Stout’s book and a back issue of Tattoo with some photos of tattooed stylized flowers and vines that I really like. I was prepared for him to laugh me out of the shop, but he at least pretended to be enthusiastic, and after a few questions and a quick doodle, he seemed to think that this had the makings of a pretty cool tattoo. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Mike gave me some homework (“Think about what kind of flowers you want, and I need pictures of the bones…”), told me his schedule, and asked me to come back in to talk about design specifics, scheduling, and cost. We shook hands and I was on my merry way, excited and relieved. I can’t wait to go back in and get down to brass tacks!
After my visit, I did some further Googling and discovered that Red Rocket is featured in the May 2008 issue of Tattoo Magazine. I was buying this rag pretty regularly for a while, but I’ve been more focused on internet research lately.
Next up: the design!