Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do you do cover-ups?
A: Typically, No. I don't specialize in cover-ups, so I typically only take on projects where the old tattoo is very small or very faded. Larger, darker tattoos are trickier to cover, and typically the cover-ups turn out better when they're done by someone who specializes in them. I would always rather my clients have the best tattoo they can possibly get, even if it means I'm not the lucky artist who gets to do it.
Q: What kind of ink do you use/do you use vegan ink?
A: I use all Eternal Ink, Fusion Ink and Solid Ink. Both brands are completely organic and vegan friendly!
Q: When is the best time of year to get tattooed?
A: This can really depend on your lifestyle and the location of the tattoo on your body! For example it may be easier to heal an ankle or foot tattoo in the summer when you can wear sandals so you wouldn't have to worry about clothing rubbing against it like in the winter when it would be stuck in boots all the time. Conversely, summer is full of sun and possible exposure to pool, lake or ocean water that can be awful for the healing and longevity of your tattoo. So if it's a shoulder tattoo and you're prone to sunburn in the summer, it may be best to consider another location or wait until the fall.
Q: How much is it going to hurt?
A: Pain tolerance is different person to person, location to location, and even day to day! There are a few generally agreed upon spots that kind of suck-elbows and knees, ribcage, throat, etc.-but even these can vary based on the person. If you are worried about the pain, the best thing you can do is relax and make sure your body is in good condition! Always eat before a tattoo, get plenty of rest and don't drink alcohol the night before, and stay hydrated and you'll make things much easier on yourself! Tattoos of course do hurt a bit, but if they were really all that terrible no one would get them, so try not to worry. If you're still wary, here is a handy reference showing general pain levels in different areas of the body-but again, this is just a guideline and may be different for you!
Q: I found an amazing tattoo on pintrest and I want you to do the same thing on me!
A: While Pinterest and Google image searches are invaluable resources for finding ideas and reference pictures, it is generally considered impolite to ask an artist to do the exact same tattoo another artist designed. I do all my work custom, so even when working with a general idea I try to change little things so you will have a completely unique tattoo tailored to you! I can keep it generally similar to the original but make it my own so I'm not copying anyone. As an artist, I know how upset I would be if someone else copied a design I worked really hard on and made unique for a client, so I would hate to do it to someone else.
This can be different for smaller pieces, however. There are really only so many ways to do a tiny infinity symbol or a heart the size of a penny, so for small, simple concepts like that it's usually okay to bring in a picture of another tattoo if it's exactly how you want it. With other artwork it can be different as well, like if you find a painting you love, if the artwork isn't done by a tattoo artist most of the time this is okay. I always encourage people to try to get permission from the original artist in these cases, but I understand that's not always possible. You wouldn't exactly be able to ask Vincent Van Gogh if it's okay for you to get Starry Night tattooed on your back for example. But there are some artists out there who, even though they don't tattoo, they may make money off of doing tattoo design commissions for people and so they might not want you using their work for free. Or sometimes they just don't want people getting their work tattooed, and that's okay too. It's important to respect an artist's answer when you ask if you can use their artwork, and if that was the case I would just let their artwork inspire me to create something similar but unique for you!
Q: Where are you located?
A: I am based at Black Dahlia Tattoo Gallery in Willoughby Ohio, but occasionally travel to other locations for guest spots and conventions! Check the travel page to see where I’m headed next.
Click here for directions and more info on the shop!
Q: How should I prepare for my appointment?
A: There are a few important factors when it comes to pre-tattoo prep, and it should be kept in mind that pre-tattoo prep can be just as important as how you take care of your tattoo afterwards.
You want your skin to be healthy and undamaged for your appointment. If at all possible, you want to stay out of the sun, stay hydrated, and avoid alcohol and other blood thinners leading up to your appointment. We can’t tattoo sunburnt skin, period, and alcohol and blood thinners can lead to poor healing as they can cause you to bleed more. But one of the best things you can do to prepare your skin to be tattooed is to make sure it is well moisturized. Dry skin is damaged skin, and damaged skin can be more difficult to tattoo and can sometimes even be more painful to get tattooed. So moisturizing daily in the weeks leading up to the appointment can be extremely beneficial. This is especially true in the winter when the air around us is dry but is also very important in the summer. Exfoliating is also good for your skin, but should be avoided the few days before the appointment to avoid causing any unnecessary irritation.
Taking care of the rest of your body is also important when it comes to making sure the whole tattoo process goes smoothly. It’s always advised to eat a decent meal at least an hour prior to the appointment, and to bring snacks or plan for a food break for longer appointments or if you tend to have issues with low blood sugar. Wear comfortable clothing (that you aren’t worried about getting ink on-it’s rare but accidents can happen) and dress in layers in case you get too hot or too cold. If possible, you also want to be well rested so try to get a good night's sleep the night before the appointment as well. It can also be helpful to bring headphones, tablets, etc. to keep yourself distracted/entertained during the process, and you will have access to outlets for recharging if you bring chargers for any devices you choose to bring. I’m not always very good at keeping up with conversation while I’m tattooing, since I’m focusing so much on the tattoo, so feel free to bring anything you’d like to keep yourself occupied during the appointment!
Q: Can I use a numbing cream before the tattoo?
A: Yes, BUT there are some pros and cons to using numbing creams that may effect your decision-I don’t believe it’s the best choice in some cases. First and foremost, always do a patch test before using any numbing product for an appointment to make sure there are no allergic reactions or other issues. To do a patch test, apply according to the product direction just as you would to prepare for the tattoo, but it’s generally recommended to do a different area of the body and at least a few days before the appointment in case there is any allergic reaction. Assuming no allergic reaction, feel free to use the product for your appointment but be aware that typically numbing creams do not last for more than two hours or so, depending on the brand. So it’s not a sure fire way to help with the entire process if it’s a longer session. Some artists and clients think that using numbing creams can also make the pain a bit worse once the product wears off. Personally, I’m not sure if this is true, and if it is, it may be more of a psychological issue than a result of anything in the product itself, but it is potentially something that could be an issue so it’s good to be aware of that risk. With this in mind, generally I think numbing creams are most useful for half day or smaller appointments, where the tattoo could be completed or close to completed by the time the product wears off. Some people of course have had success using it with longer sessions however, so I always leave the ultimate decision to my clients. In any case, it’s always my hope that no one will find it necessary-I’ve been told I’m very gentle compared to a lot of artists, and most of my clients don’t have much, if any, issue sitting for long sessions without any numbing products being used. I understand though everyone’s pain tolerance is different and some areas of the body can be especially painful to get tattooed, so I encourage everyone to do whatever they feel will be best for them.