Tag Archives: piercing

DOs and DON’Ts at a Tattoo Expo

31 May


I didn’t hide the fact that I was not a ink-covered chick when I went to the expo. I have my tattoos in not so out-there places. I have my piercings that I think are fashionable and cool. But I wasn’t covered head to toe trying to explain my childhood with a narcissist mother and a messed up social life with ink and rings. Oh trust me…. those things did play a part in my artwork and piercings! But for the most part, this was strictly a media event for me.

Even as a mild outsider looking in, my fashion and glamour side would kick in when I saw something inappropriate and all I could do was shake my head. It seemed the younger attendees had something more to prove, but girls, let me tell ya: what you were proving will probably be a Maury episode in the future.

So what were my “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” when it came to MY line of work? I didn’t take photos of them…. well, because that’s just wrong. But hellz to the yeah I am going to tell you all about them:

image1. DO–It’s okay to dress provocatively professional. I work from home. On days I “dress up”, I usually wear jeans and a nice shirt. If I put a bra on, it’s a REALLY big deal. If its “casual as hell day”, I bust out a nice cami and maybe some Juicy Couture sweats. Hey, that’s MY casual, not me being a bum. One day at the expo I wore I nice mini with a lace top and caged sandals. The other I wore side-lace up jeans and an animal print top. On paper, both sound like they could be seen inside at your local pole-dancing event. But worn with the right accessories and the right dose of self confidence?…. it looked hot!

image2. DON’T–If you want to wear a skirt to show off your leg ink, don’t wear shoes you can’t walk in. There is a line in the song “Price Tag” by Jesse J that goes: “You got your shades on your eyes and your heels so high that you can’t even have a good time….” Take. Heed!! If you shake and wobble more than Jello or you have to take tiny little steps like you are trying to rid the world of red ants, one at a time, those are not the ones to wear. ANYWHERE! Girlfriend, lemme tell ya…those guys aren’t looking at you because they think you and your shoes are sexy. They are watching to see when your first face plant happens because, I guarantee, there is a side bet going on somewhere.

image3. DO–Feel free to wear something that does show off a bit of you art. If you have a full sleeve, wear a cool graphic short-sleeved tee. If you have a nice piece on your leg, wear a semi-long pair of comfy shorts that shows some of it, doesn’t have to be all of it. If you are a girl, a jazzy cami is perfect for showing off some back and arm ink. Boyfriend jeans or capris with sandals is perfect to show off ankle or foot work.

4. DON’T–Fellas, if you have a nice chest piece do not wear a fishnet tank or a vest with no shirt if you still have every chest hair of winter growth showing. If your demonic skulls have warped into looking more like the StayPuft marshmallow man on Rogaine, mow that lawn down. Or.. (love this one)… the girl who has no ink or piercings but dresses like her first appointment is at 10pm on the 3rd floor and involves no ink at all (if you get my solicitation drift). Please, please just…just don’t. Think first, then dress accordingly.

image5. DO–Think about what you are wearing from head to toe, including accessories for the women. You may have a favorite top, a favorite skirt and favorite pair of shoes, but that does not mean they have to be worn all at the same time. A designer t-shirt, flowered maxi skirt and comfortable sneakers are all necessities in my closet at all times. But you’ll never see me wear them OUT of the house simultaneously. I don’t care if it’s a polo match or a chicken wing eating contest–TASTEFULLY COORDINATE! Remember, if you plan on dropping your artist’s name because you are proud of their work, give them the benefit of the doubt and dress so they’d be proud you’re wearing it!

image6. DON’T— If you have a sexy black bra with matching undies, good for you–you get your groove on girlfriend! If you wear them under a white dress, under a lace top that unbuttons to your belly button or if you wear them under a skirt where bending in any angle will allow me to see more than your GYNO sees? Yeah–RETHINK that!

7. DO— Keep this it mind, a fabulous quote from Tim Gunn: “If you have to ask if a clothing item is a dress or a top, it is always a top.” Case closed.

image8. DON’T— All those buzzing needles, bottles of beer and mechanical bull rides can jar a few important brain cells loose and shift to the other side of your head. Keep your head on straight. Tattoos and piercings should NOT be an impulse decision. Think about it. Then think about it again, sober, after a good night’s sleep. My personal rule of thumb is if you haven’t changed your mind about what you want tattooed, where you want it, or what you want pierced for AT LEAST 30 days, you are probably definite about your decision.

9. DO— Enjoy yourself, but ask questions. If you really see a tattoo or a piercing in your future, talk to as many artists as possible. Look at pictures, talk to former clients, ask how long they’ve had the work. (The longer & brighter the tat?…The better the artist is and the higher the quality of his supplies.) Also, ask about the artist’s tattoo shop. How long have they been there? Is it clean? Sterile? Busy? If a tattoo artist is “available anytime next week”, there might be a reason his date book isn’t full. I always have to wait 3-4 weeks to see my artist. Why? Cuz he’s GOOD.

10. DON’T— Don’t be shy! People have put themselves out there at the expo to show off the work they have had done. Be polite, be personal and show them what you’ve got. Don’t be close minded either. Sometimes artists have an idea about a tat you might want that would take it to a whole new level. And if someone asks YOU what you think about a tat? Be honest! A girl in the ladies room had a tracing of a tiger she wanted on her arm. It was awesome, but it was wicked off center. It wasn’t balanced. She finally agreed and had the artist move it over. He was probably pissed, but it looked a whole lot better! Better rep for his shop too.

So there are your do’s and don’ts when you decided to head to a tattoo expo. Will you be there? Will I see you? I hope so! I couldn’t be happier about each piece of ink I have and my reasons behind them. It’s a hell of a story. Probably will get something else in the future. I’ll know it when I see it. Hopefully someday our paths will cross and I’ll get to show–and tell!–YOU all about them!



Sassy and the Tattoo Expo (Part 3)

15 May

imageIt is here. The final day of the expo. I have had so much fun and hope to be able to attend next year. I am not sure if I will go as part of the media or just grab a weekend pass and a Dunkin Donuts gift card and make it a whole weekend out of people watching. THAT we all know is a story in itself. So, let’s close this out…

Day 3:

Sunday. The last day of the tattoo expo. Part of me wants to just say “thank heavens.” I had done a lot of walking and talking up to this point, and I would be lying if I didn’t say I wanted to finish up soon. I was anxious to get the day started off on the right foot so I could close the weekend out on a high note. Too bad my feet started to hurt in less than an hour (poor choice of shoes–my bad). Okay, Sassy’s body, I get it: I’m pushing my limits. The expo was a little quieter than the day before, but I think that was because most of the artists were starting to break down and call it a weekend. That and the fact that judging was going on for many pieces that had been done this weekend and before. Photos of tattoos were being taken and submitted for the various contests. A lot of family members were there to cheer on their loved ones for all different types of trophies. Other people were just staying to see if their favorite artist took home a prize. Although it was a competition, everyone–artists as well–were cheering each other on. It was a feeling of family.

I had two main objectives on this last day, and I wanted to get them done early so I too could break down and get home to rest. I had to get info from my new pal Casey, and as usual, she helped me tons. (You’ll being reading about those conversations soon.) I got what I needed to close out my research. Part one, done. On my way through, I saw Karla who pierced my ear the day before. What started as a conversation about my piercing took a turn early on and brought us to a subject–not related to tattooing and piercing at all–that we found a common bond that we were both (unfortunately) pros on. Although the conversation was not uplifting at all, it was refreshing to talk to someone who knew exactly what I was talking about. I think Karla was just as happy to have someone who “got it”, who also understood things others didn’t. An instant connection was created, and friends were made. That is what is great about this industry: two different people that most likely would have never met now know each other in a way that goes beyond the needles and ink. That is what makes this industry awesome. Plus it solidified the idea that Nora had on earlier in the expo: it gives you a reason to start a conversation that eventually leads to a friendship. And there is nothing wrong with that.

On my last pass-by, I said goodbye to one of my friends and had the opportunity to meet with some of his family. They were funny and personable, and oh duh… their ink was fabulous (of course)! They were there to support my friend and to enter the contests going on. Here is what totally threw me: although, once again, I began talking to them about the stories of their tattoos, the conversation turned towards me! The “mom” HAD to have picked my brain for at least 20 minutes about my writing, my love for fashion and my involvement in the industry. She kept flattering me by saying she liked how I took control of my look. She said I looked stunning yet approachable. Wow! ANYONE in my line of work would know that is the ultimate compliment. We continued to chat a bit more about my line of work as well as theirs for several more minutes till I had to get going. “Mom” insisted I give her my business card and stay in touch on Facebook, which I have. After a few more good bye’s and see ya soon’s, I called it a day. As I looked around the convention hall on my way out, all I could do was smile. I did it!

Working and researching at the convention made it fun to combine my line of work with those in the tattoo industry. Tattooing is not just a business anymore–it’s an art form which is often hushed or goes unnoticed. If someone had a Monet in their possession, I would bet you will know about it or even get offered to see it. But if you have a fabulous piece done by Jay or Brian or Anthony or Noah down the street, probably not many people would take the time to learn its story. That really is too bad, in a sense. But there is a feeling of pride when you have a tattoo since that piece of work is yours and yours only, designed for you or by you, created for you, worn by only you. It’s true, fads come and go like the tide. I’m in fashion, trust me I know! But tats aren’t fashion–they are expressions, they are achievements, they are beliefs, they are memorials, they are personal. They are yours, and they always will be. Before you create an assumption about someone who has ink, know that over 24% of Americans -male and female- between the ages 18 and 50 have ink. That’s gone way up over recent years. And the number isn’t dipping at all. A tattoo means something to the wearer. Take a shot before you judge to stop and ask them about the story of the tat rather than the “What were you thinking?” remark. You may learn something you didn’t know. And better yet, you may make a friend you would have never connected with ever before. And in these days of endless plug-in communications and technology, how freaking awesome is that??

So for myself, I can honestly say I am not done with my ink. I have one piece to be done any day now, and after that I want to design a piece to complete some work I have on my ankle. Piercings? Yeah, think that is done. I might….. might… get my other tragus done. But if I do, it won’t be for a while! I know how to take care of my skin to keep me and my ink looking fresh and young for as long as I can. In the industry I’m in? …. I’ve got knowledge on my side. And with the great new friends I’ve made? ….I have people I can trust and enjoy in my life, tattoos or not!

Sassy and the Tattoo Expo (Part 2)

14 May

imageHere we go, the second day of the tattoo expo. I was psyched now because my goal for the day was to get more info not just on the tattooing industry, but to dabble in the piercing side of things as well. Unlike tattooing, piercings are bit different. Some will say they get them because they like being “different”. Others say the taboo factor is big. There are just some things that shouldn’t be pierced and, well, that’s what they pierce. And even with piercings, there is a fashion aspect involved. Some people think that someone with an unusual piercing lives on the edge just a bit, is a chance taker, and maybe a little bit of a bad boy/girl. Fact being, to some that is erotic. So I set out to get my info for the day. And I did just that, as well as a few other things! Let’s go…

Day 2:

So, I’m back and this day is totally different than last night. For one, its busier. Not a ton more people but definitely more than yesterday. It’s funny–no matter who or how many show up, we all had something in common: an interest in ink. Second, on-site tats are EVERYWHERE! Needles were buzzing at just about every booth, and everyone who is anyone was getting one. I noticed that men getting a tattoo act very similar to how women act when they get a manicure. “Okay, I’ll sit here, this won’t hurt and if it does you’ll never know it. Just make me feel relaxed and you make it look awesome.” The only difference is manicure customers leave with pretty nails–tat customers leave with A&D ointment packets and a body part wrapped in Saran Wrap.

I made my rounds, meeting the people I didn’t get a chance to get to meet yesterday, making connections with people who may be of great interest to me in the future when it comes to my writing. I promised I would meet up with two of my very good friends, Larry & Colleen, who used to work for the actual sponsors of the event (Spaulding & Rogers Mfg and Spaulding’s Tattoo World), which I did. That was fun as hell. Going and learning is great, but going and learning with experienced friends is even better. During my way through endless introductions, showing off body parts drawn with ink and flashing jewels in places where they usually aren’t, I got to meet Karla. She was one of the selected “piercers” at the show, and boy was she was busy! I’m still in shock at what people will pierce, but that (and the displayed photo album) goes beyond words. At the show, however, she was doing basic mainly G-rated piercings (but COULD do others if a customer wanted). Noses, belly buttons and ears were in demand at the expo. Those, I can handle that. In fact I have had my belly button pierced for almost 10 years now and I think a belly ring can be very attractive on a girl. Plus the pain involved in getting it is SO nothing. Personally, it was no big deal.

Then I happen to run into my cousin Alyssa who had just gotten some fresh ink. We chatted it up for a little bit, looking at her newest piece. Looked good, jazzy design. After a while, I spotted her again as I was on a writing break. She came running up to show me her latest “investment”(?)–an ear piercing on a very painful-looking part of her ear. She told me it was called a “tragus”. I began researching: a tragus piercing is the piercing of the tragus, a piece of cartilage which projects from the ear to essentially be a defense barrier to the ear canal. Tragus piercings are generally not very painful, due to the small number of nerve endings there. The hole itself is usually made with a small gauge hollow piercing needle, and the typical piercing jewelry would be a small diameter captive bead ring or small gauge style post depending on the piercer’s preference. I can’t deny, it looked interesting..it look fun, it looked erotic, it looked trendy, it looked sexy! Yeah…. that sounds like the things I’m often, sadly, looking for nowadays to help with my midlife crisis. I wasn’t completely sure, but I thought I wanted one. I kind of told my two friends I might be “interested” in one. Yeah…..wrong! Wrong, wrong, wrong. Wrong thing to say out loud. Before I could swallow my gum, they were handing me forms to fill out, taking my information off my license, having me sign consent forms, and making me wish I HAD taken that extra shot of tequila when I had the chance. Oh what the hell did I just get myself into?

One thing about me? If I start it, I finish it. If I say I’m going to go buy five boxes of Girl Scout cookies, I will buy five boxes of Girl Scout cookies. If I say I’m going get a tattoo on my wrist, I will get a tattoo on my wrist. And if I want to get something pierced, it WILL get pierced. I wasn’t afraid of the pain. Holy Swiss cheese, I’ve dealt with more pain in the past several years then you could imagine. This would be a breeze. I know the routine: blow out, jam your foot into the table, yell an obscenity or four, and it’s over. Piece of cake.

Sassy laying down getting ready to be pierced by Karla

Sassy laying down getting ready to be pierced by Karla

Karla was fabulous. And SOOOO professional. She kept me informed about each thing she was doing before she did it, showed me the sterile tools she’d be using, how she was going to do the piercing, then went to town. Honestly?… the forms took longer than the piercing did! Of course I had to make things difficult by having thick cartilage and needing two “jabs” instead of one, but I did fine. But how did it look (other than red, painful and a little bloody?) Honestly, it looked AWESOME and I was thrilled! She instructed me how to take care of it, then gave me an instruction sheet as well. She reinforced the the “don’ts” and off I went. Pierced tragus and all.
No, Sassy's fine. REALLY!... I'M FINE!

No, Sassy’s fine. REALLY!… I’M FINE!

Yeah, remember when I said I wasn’t coming home with more holes than I left with? Cancel that. I realized right then, though, that I was POSITIVE I was done coloring or piercing anything else for the rest of the weekend. Things like this must be done in personal moderation. If you’re not 100% ready to do it, you are just not ready. Period. And that’s okay. Better to plan forward than to regret back.

As my ear calmed down, I decided to sit down in the lobby and do some writing and people watching. Let me just say that if you are a people watcher?…you will NOT be bored at a tattoo convention. It’s at least a two large beverage experience. Soon, a few of my new tattoo friends decided to join me and we made a regular party out of this break. Everyone had a story–good or bad–and it was our job to discuss the “what if’s” and the “I bet’s” for each interesting attendee we saw. No one was exempt! Everyone was watched and graded like a Siskel & Ebert movie review. (Read my “Do’s & Don’ts” section for more on this.) If we didn’t stop after an hour, we probably could have stayed all night entertaining ourselves. Sad, yet oh so funny.

I hung around for a little while more, talking to artists and customers again, getting their views on what was going on around them. I noticed no expo attendee seemed to be upset. It was a group of proud and happy people, and that’s all that mattered. And that’s awesome. I was getting tired so I decided to call it a day. On my way to the door, however, a very (drunk) pretty girl named Allison ran up to me and HAD to tell me how “freaking gorgeous and sexy” I was. SO MUCH SO, she had to introduce me to her husband who was getting a shoulder tat around the corner. (Insert the words “extremely uncomfortable” here.) I thanked her for… I don’t know, hitting on me?… but I was heading out. I turned and made a bee-line straight for the door. Phew, close one. Keys in one hand, iPad in the other. Check please–I was done!

THAT is your tragus. Mine now has a hoop in it...

THAT is your tragus.
Mine now has a hoop in it…