Becoming a Tattoo Artist

FACUNDO TUNE (Translated from Spanish): Stranded without work, my friend and I pooled our money together and decided to start a local business. We rented a shop in Coronel Suarez – a province of Buenos Aires, Argentina – named it “Joplin,” and dedicated our buisness to all thinks Rock.

To gather the clothes and accessories we needed, we traveled to the capital city of Buenos Aires.At this same time, I also had the idea to purchase a tattoo machine. I loved to draw and figured it was the perfect moment to start tattooing.

Clueless, I went straight to “Bond Street,” the biggest and most recognizable tattoo parlor in Recoleta. There, I purchased my first beginner’s kit.

inaugurando-joplin-con-ariel-santos-mi-amigo

I was so anxious to start that when we got to our hotel, I ripped open the kit and tried putting it together. Considering I had no idea what I was doing, it took me forever to assemble the machine, but to my satisfaction, the kit’s constant hammering finally sounded.

Armed with a disposable needle without ink, I wanted to know what a tattoo would feel like on my skin. So solely out of curiosity, I pinched my hand with the machine…

For the next few days we passed throughout the different towns of Buenos Aires, buying the merchandise we needed before taking the train back to our city.

Once comfortably back at home, I scoured the internet for information about tattoos and discovered that for starters, you should practice on Pig skin. So, I immediately went to the local butcher shop to get me some pig meat.

I prepared my equipment, then perforated my newly purchased pig skin with every needle that I owned. It amazed me how similar tattooing felt to drawing.

kurt-cobain-sobre-piel-de-cerdo
Kurt Cobain on Pig Skin

While I wasn’t sure about tattooing myself, I knew had to get started soon. I approached my second tattoo much like a drawing; I took the four symbols of Led Zeppelin, calculated them with a stencil then stabbed my own skin.

The process lasted nearly seven hours as I took my time carefully etching in the ink. The pain I felt was rather a sensation, incomparable and unique to only a tattoo.

I finished late that night and wrapped my arm in plastic before falling asleep.

mi-segundo-auto-tatuaje
My Tattoo

Pleased with my result, I awoke the next day and decided to continue tattooing; by chance, my mother offered herself up as my first volunteer – while she never liked tattoos, she always supported my undertakings. I made a small, neat initial on her wrist and signed it with the date.

Yearning for more, I offered my friends free tattoos and seeing as though they were all rock aficionados, they quickly accepted my offer.

practicando-sobre-un-par-de-amigas
My Office at Joplin

I remember first experiencing how each person’s skin reacted differently to the needle and ink. Then, having to deal with my client’s nerves throughout the process. I learned to remain calm and collected, then to transmit my feelings back across to the client to comfort them.

Every day, I learned more and more about tattoo artistry. Now I believe that every aspiring tattoo artist must read, watch, draw, and of course, tattoo to improve their trade.

I was tattooing the majority of my friends when I decided to dedicate an area of my shop to my art.

I will never forget how nervous I was when my first client arrived. She was a young girl. So young that out of formality, I had to ask her for her parents’ permission. Sure enough, the next day her parents, full of doubts, arrived at my shop. But in spite of my inexperience, I intended to convince them otherwise.

Content with my responses, the parents granted their daughter permission to receive two initials on her back. I climbed the stairs to the second floor of my shop where my equipment waited and invited my first client up.

She was just as nervous as I was, so I tried my best to comfort her. I constantly talked to her, asked her questions and reassured her that I would work fast and pain free.

My pulse was shaking, so I drank some water to steady my nerves then began.

Before I knew it, I finished. The tattoo turned out great and the young girl was just as happy as I was with the final product. I handed her a piece of paper with a list of do’s and don’ts for the future, then received my first payment. She left with a grinning smile across her face.

gui-mi-amiga-mas-tatuada-hombro-de-mandalas-segunda-sesion

I always feel a certain joy when a client leaves satisfied with my work.

Tattooing transformed into an operation as I started to generate more publicity through social media. I also realized that my tattoos themselves were generating interest. People arrived at my store per recommendation of previous clients and demanded my work.

jenny-una-clienta-de-caruhe

At first, I began with simple tattoos but over time developed more interesting projects. I also charged amateur rates which helped attract more clients.

maggie-cat

Months passed since my inception as a tattoo artist and eventually I was tattooing two or three clients a day. Then one day, at the peak of my trade, my first mishap struck.

One morning two health and safety authorities arrived at my shop. The men told me that three people had reported infections in their tattoos. The men had an aggressive attitude and immediately climbed the stairs to the second floor where I worked.

They said that my work space didn’t comply with official regulations and then, with indignation, angrily threatened to close my store. I knew that was impossible because I made sure we complied with all necessary regulations. They then proceeded to shut down my tattoo parlor section instead. They recommended I work from home and use the store as a medium for clients.

Frustrated, I decided to investigate the truth behind the reports. The men never told me the names of the infected clients, so I consulted each person I ever tattooed in order to discover where I went wrong. In the end, every person I talked to said that their tattoos were completely fine and that they were still happy with the results.

I had a million conjectures and even complained several times to the health and safety sector, but each time they only rejected and threatened me. Angry, I decided to withdraw from the store entirely and instead dedicate myself solely to tattoo artistry.

tatuando-a-maggie-en-mi-nueva-casa-luego-de-cerrar-la-rockeria
Tattooing from Home

The adversity of not having a centrally visible location compounded with the bad reputation from unjust reports to diminished the number of clients I had. My store lost its prestige and after a year and a half we were forced to close.

My friend and business partner moved to Buenos Aires where he found work and still lives today.

I continued working in my city, moving from house to house to perfect my work. The whole time reading, drawing and tattooing as much as I could to remain close to the world which I love so much.

Today, I live in an international exchange house in Mendoza, Argentina. My suitcase is packed full with my equipment and I’ve been lucky enough to tattoo several of my housemates.

tatuando-casa-olascoaga
Working in Mendoza

It is an incredible sensation to know that so many of my tattoos walk wild throughout this world, but I still need to perfect my work. It´s been four years since I dedicated my life to this endeavor and still I consider myself a beginner. I hope to reopen a store one day and brand my own style, but most of all, I hope that people consider my designs perfect to accompany them until the ends of the earth.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s