Everything tattoo: the reasons why people get them, the different trends, the addiction factor and the fear of needles.
By: Zac Starke
A seasoned aura surrounds the tawny bricks, which don the building a familiar and rustic appearance. Teaming with potential customers, the busy corner of Guy and Sherbrooke is cluttered by honks of cars and ever-present chatter of passers-by. Staring down at the populace, a glowing crimson insignia announces Adrenaline, in tribalistic lettering; a neon bong radiates ablaze through the window. The welcoming, bowed entranceway warmly invites patrons inside to the furnishings of staff’s colloquial voices, and the pungency of emaciated skin.
Established in 1998, Adrenaline has been satisfying tattoo urges for more than a decade; with its friendly appeasing touch that leaves customers well-informed and proud to display their artists’ handicraft.
“You don’t wanna go to a place if you can’t sit down, and talk with someone about the tattoo,” mentions Ron Smith, an 11 year veteran artist of Adrenaline; “No matter how good you hear they are, if they’re not gonna take the time out and talk to you, they’re gonna rush your tattoo.”
Ron, or ‘Old School’ as personnel around the tattoo and piercing emporium recognize him is a veteran tattooist at Adrenaline since February 2000. He agreed to graciously provide insight into the everyday affairs of the tattoo world’s trend, the addictiveness and fears that sometimes ensue with the lifetime commitment of getting ink.
You don’t wanna go to a place if you can’t sit down, and talk with someone about the tattoo,” mentions Ron Smith, an eleven year veteran artist of
Adrenaline.“No matter how good you hear they are, if they’re not gonna take the time out and talk to you, they’re gonna rush your tattoo.”
“The trend,” as ‘Old School’ analogizes, “rises and sets with the sun,” pointing towards the wall he continued; “One week we’ll get inundated with dolphins; another day, or week and we’ll get roses.” Some patrons, however, as ‘Old School’ denotes, “like to come in and pick stuff off the walls.”A spur of the moment decision he is reluctant to perform due to unoriginality. “Montreal is notorious, like I said, for coming in and picking stuff off the walls,” he elaborated, “If someone comes in and picks their tattoo off of a wall, it’s not art; it’s a coloring book.”
Giving a slight chuckle, he explained that some individuals will even go completely against artists’ advice and tattoo anything recognizable onto themselves; “Logos is another thing; crazy shit.” He laughs, “Some guy actually got the Campbell’s soup can on himself.” When asked about the average size of a tattoo he’ll normally do; Ron put quite simply, “Everything depends on if it’s their first tattoo, or one of many,” he continues, “If it’s their first tattoo, a lot of the time, more often than not, they’ll pick something small because they want to test the waters.”
“Logos is another thing; crazy shit.” He laughs, “Some guy actually got the Campbell’s soup can on himself.”
People who have already felt the sting of a tattoo needle, on the other hand, are a completely different story because they typically add onto a previous tattoo,” ‘Old School’ said.
“If it’s somebody who’s coming in that has experience, they get bigger and bigger; each time it graduates; it goes up a notch in size, and quality.” Although tattoos do appear to be on the rise in popularity and acceptance, only 10 Montrealers out of 60 actually have a tattoo, but not to demean the surprising 36 who are planing to get one sometime in the near future. While a small, conservative number of 14 Montrealers of 60 shiver at the thought of ever relinquishing their flesh to the sting and alteration of a tattoo needle according to a survey of sixty random Montrealers done Downtown by myself.
Another aspect of getting a tattoo, which most hardly realize is the addictiveness that comes alongside it. “My personal cliché is that, one is never enough and 10 is never too many.” Having 31 tattoos himself, “give or take,” ‘Old School’ said.
When asked about the general amount of people who come back for a second or more tattoos not so long after their first, he responded, “About 98%; it’s very addictive.” He went on to explain that, “the other two percent probably went somewhere else.” Ron compares tattoos to shoes, in how “you can’t settle for just one pair.” According to a poll conducted of 60 Montrealers including anyone 17 and up who have tattoos, an astonishing 57 of them plan to go in sometime soon for another one, while only three have no desire for a new tattoo.
Although tattoo popularity is indeed on the rise, it is not without the stigma of fear, or regret. For some the fear is over aspects of pain, while for others that fear lies in the permanence of their decision. Ron suggests that, “Most people aren’t scared of the tattoo process; they’re scared about having something on their body forever.” His advice to those afraid of the actual needle is that it feels like no more than a cat scratch, “or Freddy Kruger,” he said sarcastically. Ron even confesses, “I’m not even a big fan of needles; needles mean that you’re at the doctor’s office, or something’s wrong.” He said. “These aren’t like those needles; they just scratch your skin.”
Of course, tattoos never come without the chance of regret later on in life, and for those who end up not enjoying their original tattoo, Ron says “You could always get a cover-up. You’d be surprised at how good they come out, and it’s a much easier option than to remove it.” A lot of people however, wait most of their lives to get a tattoo from either family pressure, or fear of going an entire life with the possibility of a permanent mistake. “A lot, a lot, a lot of people, when they hit 40, come in to get tattoos because it’s a milestone,” Ron says, “They say, ‘I’m 40; I’m gonna get a tattoo!'”
Soon the interview ends, as ‘Old School’ heads off to prepare for a scheduled tattoo, he leaves the advice that a tattoo is “something you should never rush; you have your entire life to get one because it’ll be with you for the rest of your life.”
“A lot, a lot, a lot of
people, when they hit forty, come in to get
because it’s a milestone,” Ron says, “They say, ‘I’m forty; I’m gonna get a tattoo!’
Although a tattoo may seem to be a good idea at the time, nobody knows if they won’t be embarrassed by it in the future. Some solve this problem by getting a small tattoo in an easy spot to hide; some get cover-ups; some even go toe-to-toe with the laser removal process, which is considerably more expensive, time consuming, and painful than getting a tattoo. It is always a good idea to spend at least a few years trying to conceive an idea that one wouldn’t mind wearing for the rest of their lives, and not something spur of the moment that will most likely be regretted.