Lydia Leblanc: Tattoo You – September 12, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

You’ve been in town a couple of weeks and you’ve probably amassed enough life experience to warrant getting a tattoo.

You’re away from home and you’re finally going to get that piercing that you’ve always wanted but couldn’t get while you were living under someone else’s roof. That’s great. You’re an adult, you’re smart (you are in college) and you have good taste. Here’s what you need to know before you go.

There are three tattoo studios in Arcata, but only one offers piercing.

Lydia Leblanc.

Visual Tattoo (825-8004), the oldest studio in town, is at 1175 G St., upstairs from Edward Jones. Dean Schubert and his crew offer American Traditional tattooing as well as other styles. They work by appointment only. Check out Dean’s work at

True Nature Tattoo (826-0456) is at 1509 G St., discreetly tucked away in a blue building. Brian Kaneko and his staff also work by appointment only and are masters of Asian style tattooing. You can read his blog and see his work at

Ancient Arts (825-8282) is at 1065 K Street, in the K-Borhood. Damien DeNolf takes walk-ins Mon-Sat from noon to 8 p.m. for both tattooing and piercing. You can see Damien’s work at Ancient Arts also has the only female tattoo artists in town.

You must be 18 or over to get tattooed in the State of California. Almost 18 won’t cut it, as all the local shops check I.D. Ancient Arts also has an 18 and over policy for piercing.

Invest in yourself. You’ll find people all over town working out of their houses or garages, usually charging less than studio prices. Read Dr. Zolna’s column and follow her precautions. Look at it this way: Would you let someone perform a root canal on you in their garage? Pony up to get it done right the first time.

Know what you want. You will have the best result if you communicate to your tattoo artist or piercer that you have given some thought to what you want done. Artists appreciate it when you come prepared with original ideas on paper, not just as a tiny picture of someone else’s tattoo on your phone.

Educate yourself. Don’t just go on the internet to look at the pretty pictures. Some studios have very comprehensive and informative websites. Do some reading. One especially good resource on piercing is the Association of Professional Piercers ( See also the Alliance of Professional Tattooists at

Check out the local artists. Look at portfolios online or at the studio. Ask people whose tattoos or piercings you admire who their artists are. Do the lines in the tattoo look nice and even? Are the colors bright and the shading smooth? Is the artwork proportional to the person’s body? Does the piercing look well-placed? How was the healing? Most people are happy to answer polite and informed questions about their body art, and pleased to recommend their favorite artists. Visit the studio and ask questions. The people working there should be happy to discuss things with you – if they’re not in the middle of doing a tattoo or piercing, that is.

Take care of your piercing or tattoo. Your artist will give you aftercare instructions and sometimes even an aftercare product. Most of the local shops recommend locally-made ‘Ohana Organics Tattoo Butter, and Wildberries also carries it if you run out. For oral piercings, the industry standard aftercare is Biotene, or other non-alcoholic mouthwash, available at CVS.

Follow your aftercare instructions diligently, as the ultimate result of your tattoo or piercing is in your (well-washed before you touch it) hands.

Lydia Leblanc, the Eye’s advertising manager, is a former tattoo artist at Ancient Arts.


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