LA Ink in West Hollywood, California

LA Ink
Photo © Legendary Classic

So I've been watching LA Ink, the spin-off of Miami Ink. I've already seen some of London Ink, but none of Miami Ink. I wonder to what degree the show's drama is created through selective editing and to what degree tattoo shops are drama-magnets.

I suppose that the sort of person who is likely to open up a tattoo parlor could be different enough from the sort that opens up a book store or sandwich shop, and if so that could make a difference in terms of what sort of drama the store develops.

Still, it makes me happy that where I work is drama-free — and since I tend to work on my own, I wouldn't end up dealing with the drama anyway.

I'm told that when I was younger I actively thought about getting a tattoo; I don't remember this and so don't remember what sort of tattoo I might have been thinking about. I suppose it's fair to assume that if I did have something in mind, it was probably some sort of "cool" design that I'd be embarrassed to have now. Good thing I didn't follow through, huh?

I must confess, though, that watching London Ink and LA Ink has me thinking about getting a tattoo again. At first I was thinking about tattoos generally and just couldn't come up with any tattoo that I'd want. Clearly I was simply enamored with the idea of a tattoo rather than any tattoo in particular and that's not a good reason to go out and get a particular tattoo. I wonder how many people get a tattoo because they like the idea of a tattoo more than they like that tattoo that they actually get?

What's engaging about LA Ink are the stories behind the tattoos people get — it's not simply people getting a skull and crossbones, but people get special tattoos that have a direct, meaningful connection to their lives. The most obvious example would be people who get "memorial" tattoos — often tattooed images of people who were important to them but who have died. I've seen some really bad tattoos based on photographs and I think they must be hard to do.


Tattoo Artists at High Voltage Tattoo
Photo © loneymops

Kat von D, the owner and lead tattoo artist of High Voltage Tattoo (the actual name of the store which is the location of LA Ink), does a fantastic job, though. Some of the memorial tattoos created by her and others in the shop look almost like actual photographs. I could only ever dream of drawing that well with pencil on paper, never mind ink on skin. If you're going to get a memorial tattoo based on a photograph of a real person, shop around carefully and don't risk a bad tattoo by trying to go too cheap.

If I lived in or near LA, I'd definitely go to the artists for High Voltage for such a tattoo (and possibly for any kind of tattoo) even though I expect they must be among the more expensive options around. Bad tattoos are as permanent as good tattoos, so if you are going to spend the money on something permanently inked into your skin you should spend enough to make sure it's done really well.

Anyway, watching people talk about what their tattoos mean to them and watching the work of the tattoo artists on LA Ink has focused my thoughts about tattoos a bit and clarified what sort of tattoo would be meaningful to me. I'm not sure I've entirely progressed from "like the idea of a tattoo" to "like a particular tattoo enough to get it," but I'm a lot closer because I've got an idea for what I think would be a very good tattoo.

First, though, I would need help designing the tattoo — at least in broad outlines if not in detail. I could get that done by a tattoo artist in their tattoo shop, but I'd like time to think about it before going that far. More importantly, I'd like time to think about getting and having the actual tattoo and that requires having a clear design in front of me to ponder for a while before taking the step of having inked on my skin.

But where would I go to have a tattoo designed?

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