Tattoo artists give their advice to those wanting artistic skin

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This weekend, the tattoo nation descends on James Brown Area for the third annual Augusta Tattoo Expo, bringing with it acclaimed artists, well-inked enthusiasts and, invariably, novices ready to have pin put to skin for the very first time.


Jeffrey "Fro" Smith, a co- owner of Augusta's 1st Amendment Tattoo, said he would rather work on a well-prepared client than take the easy money for a tattoo both parties might sooner or later regret.

He and tattoo pros Mike Ferguson, Chris Earl and Twana Ferguson offered this advice to patrons looking for that first ink.

- Research. Look at artist portfolios and ask around about shop reputation. Talk to artists. A tattoo can be time-consuming and, Mr. Smith said, it's important that it be pleasant for both artist and client.

"It's an extremely personal experience," he said. "It really is bonding."

- When looking at an artist's work, pay particular attention to lines (they should be clean), shading (it should be smooth) and composition. It's important that each piece works as art and as a tattoo.

- Look at an artist's older work. See how it holds up over time.

- Start with training wheels. The giant tattoo might not be the best choice for a first-timer.

"Start with a leg," said Mr. Ferguson, an 18-year tattoo veteran. "Get something concealable before you go out and get that sleeve."

- Be original. Tattoo artists joke about the large number of Tasmanian devils they cover up, and tattoo art can become quickly dated.

- Listen to the artist, and make sure the artist listens to you.

"You don't want to come in looking for a rose and get talked into a dragon," Ms. Ferguson said.

- Prepare the skin. If there is hair, shave it. If it's dirty or covered in a cosmetic, clean it. If it's injured or unhealthy, a sunburn for instance, wait.

- Come in well-rested, hydrated and having eaten. Bring water and a snack. Tattoos are stressful and first-timers often feel light-headed.

"I still get stressed," Mr. Ferguson said.

- Stay away from names. Old girlfriends, boyfriends, wives and husbands are commonly covered tattoos. "Life is a long time," Mr. Earl said.

- Be prepared to pay. Tattoos are art and can be costly. A full arm tattoo, commonly referred to as a sleeve, can cost several thousand dollars.

- Take care of the tattoo. A tattoo needs time to heal and, like any other wound, some tending. Mr. Ferguson said the responsibility of the artist is to make sure the client understands how that is done. The responsibility of the client is to ensure it is.

Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or steven.uhles@augustachronicle.com.

INKED IN

WHAT: Third annual Augusta Tattoo Expo


WHEN: Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday, noon to 8 p.m. Sunday


WHERE: James Brown Arena, 601 Seventh St.


COST: $10; for information, visit centralvalleytattoo.com

Comments (8) Add comment
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Lucky_Luciano
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Lucky_Luciano 06/04/09 - 06:35 am
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Love my ink.....Think I know

Love my ink.....Think I know where I am going this weekend.....

2 B JUST ME
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2 B JUST ME 06/04/09 - 08:43 am
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I like small tattoo here and

I like small tattoo here and there but can't see it all over like the Sleeve. It looks dirty. freakish. I've always wanted a small butterfly tattoo on my hip but after seeing the tattoos gone wild around, No Thanks.

MShanell
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MShanell 06/04/09 - 05:07 pm
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Fro is me and my husbands

Fro is me and my husbands tattoo artist. He does amazing work! The last tattoo I had done was at last year's convention. So it's about time to add some more ink!! :)

andywarhol
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andywarhol 06/04/09 - 06:22 pm
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Yeah, a small butterfly. Add

Yeah, a small butterfly. Add that to the other 2million women with the small butterfly tat.

millermania
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millermania 06/04/09 - 07:12 pm
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I love tattoos. I have only 4

I love tattoos. I have only 4 but they are soooo adictive. I plan to get more and my next will be in rememberance of my grandmother and breast cancer :)

fandango
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fandango 06/04/09 - 10:22 pm
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nothing more attractive than

nothing more attractive than an OLD tatoo...what you think is so cool today will not be in a couple of years...and very few people that i have met dont regret therir ink choice after a little time has passed.but you keep on thinking how cool you look and i will keep on thinking how stupid you are for permantly marking you skin

SC-LSU-Fan
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SC-LSU-Fan 06/05/09 - 03:59 pm
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You know those stick figure

You know those stick figure decals you see on cars? I got boy and girl stick figures on my back last year for my kids. I get all kinds of comments on it. I love it! My next one is going to be a puzzle piece for autism awareness!! They are addictive!!!

Grimzine
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Grimzine 06/05/09 - 04:50 pm
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I am pretty much covered from

I am pretty much covered from the neck down in tattoos. And everything that is stated in the article is true. I now know how the industry works but I didn't always know and now there is a couple tattoos that I am saving to have removed so I can cover it with something more to my liking. I have invested ALOT of money and time into my tattoos and I simply enjoy the artwork and I get alot of compliments on my tattoos. It is a lifestyle though, keep in mind that the whole world hasn't caught on and if you are trying to get certain jobs some tattoo placement may not be for you. I hope all who attend the expo this weekend have fun and take the advice of this article.

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