Kate Koenig, Arts Editor
Ink. Tats. Body art. It seems as though everyone has some sort of tattoo. Some celebrate interests, others add beautiful design, memorialize a loved one or perhaps convey conviction for a concept or cause. Do you have a tattoo? What does it mean to you? If not, would you ever consider getting one?
Tattoos have been around since the dawn of time; even Ötzi the 5,000-year-old Iceman had some. Culturally, they have widespread meanings across the globe. Various indigenous tribes have been known to use them as indications of rank, qualifications or age. In ancient Rome, slaves were tattooed for identification purposes and soldiers were at a time required by law to bear markings so as to be recognized if they deserted. Members of Japanese crime organizations, known as the yakuza, wear full body tattoos to show their affiliation, a style which many public bathhouses ban to prevent the yakuza from entering. In the Western world, however, tattoo styles have been influenced mostly by Polynesia, in a cultural diffusion passed through European sailors.
Locally, there are two well-known tattoo parlors in downtown Oneonta: Golden Lotus Tattoo and Indelible Ink. Golden Lotus is located at 75 Main Street, and has been running since 2004. The artists are Jason Sexton, Nate Purcell and James Mcilroy. The Times had an opportunity to talk with Purcell, who’s been tattooing for four years. He said he’s always had a fascination with tattoos, dating back to his childhood when he and his brother would draw on each other, and remembers the tattoos of his uncles who were in the Navy. He learned through apprenticeship under another local artist, Taylor Jackson.
Golden Lotus prices their tattoos primarily by size: big projects such as sleeves or back pieces go at an hourly rate of $120 per hour, while smaller pieces are priced by size, placement and amount of detail. The minimum price for a smaller piece is $50.
In tattoo design, it’s important to use a lot of black ink in order for it to be timeless, according to Purcell. Different types of tools are used for lines and shading; liner machines are classified by the number of needles they hold, ranging from 1 to 14, and also by the density of their arrangement. Shading machines are used for different techniques including “whip” shading, in which the colors are blended by layering different shades in the skin. Colors can also be mixed in the tube of the device. Preference of a tool can come down to details such as what type of metal the screws are made of, and technique varies broadly from artist to artist.
Indelible Ink, located at 147 Main Street, has been in business since 1997. Unfortunately, despite repeated efforts, we were unable to speak with an artist from the shop, but it was learned from the guys at Golden Lotus that Indelible’s artists include Austin Voltura, Dan Scannell and Travis Manley.
Imagine being a professional tattoo artist and having your artwork permanently engraved in the skin of scores of people, sometimes on constant display. It’s a unique art in a unique medium requiring unique commitment. What tattoo would you get?