“When you go upstairs and meet God in the sky and your body’s still down here, the one thing that goes up to God is your soul. Your body in the flesh with that tattoo is still down on this earth. It’s outlasted you. You’re no longer here. So make sure you want that Betty Boop on your butt cheek.”
Of Duane Anderson’s wise words about tattoos, those might be the most resonant.
The artists of Tiger Rose Tattoo in Pismo Beach love the beauty and sanctity of the practice.
However, according to the ink man, the number of unoriginal designs has been on the rise thanks to design-share websites such as Pinterest. The advent of technology has been a double-edged sword for the tattoo community. While the Internet has promoted some laziness in the originality department, it’s conversely encouraged the spread of new ideas with the ease of artists sharing original content.
Louis Campopiano of Traditional Tattoo in San Luis Obispo pointed out how much the world of tattoos has shrunk thanks to the appearance of such websites.
“More than anything else, you can tell the quality of artistry has gone way up,” he said. “It’s become a lot more competitive field for artists. The quality has pushed everyone to be a better tattoo artist in the industry.”
Artists usually take advantage of sites such as Instagram or Twitter to share their styles online. Anderson and Campopiano both have samples of their works uploaded to various social media and content-sharing websites.
All designs aside, there were some simple no-no’s the artists wholesomely agreed on.
“Now it’s (all about) white tattoos,” Anderson said. “Everyone wants a white tattoo. I’ve had white tattoos tattooed on my body just to show. It looks purple; it’s nasty. I tell them, ‘That’s what it’s going to look like,’ and they say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s the one!'”
Finger tattoos? Also a bad idea.
“The biggest problem lately is everyone wanting to get the side of their fingers tattooed,” Campopiano said. “Those look good for about three months. They start to fall out after a year; they look like rubbish.”
The most important advice is to think about longevity. All of the artists agreed that, Pinterest-assisted or not, too many people don’t think cautiously about something that will remain forever. Anderson said it best.
“Word to the wise: if you want to get a tattoo, soul search on that tattoo.”
Fortunately, once that soul-searching journey has been completed, San Luis Obispo and beyond offers a plethora of options. Just maybe don’t rip the design from some Pinterest board.
Here are some shops where you can get inked:
Tiger Rose Tattoo, 590 Dolliver St., Pismo Beach, CA 93449
Traditional Tattoo, 251 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Apothecary Tattoo, 1166 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
San Luis Tattoo Company, 390 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, CA 93401
Central Coast Tattoos, 501 Morro Bay Blvd., Morro Bay, CA 93442