Want to share your tattoo story? Click here!
Howdy, Quinn! Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am an artist, dog lover, thrift store aficionado, and proud coworker of the Ain’t Nothin’ crew! My twitter is @quinnslayton.
Have you always had tattoo dreams, or did the tattoo bug catch you by surprise?
I’ve had tattoo dreams since I was a teenager, though I didn’t get my first tattoo until I was 26. I’m so grateful that the following ideas never came to fruition: 1) a matching tattoo with an ex-boyfriend that I had originally designed for myself, but when he saw it, he decided that was the tattoo for him (thank goodness the relationship and the tattoo never made it) or 2) a silhouette of my black cat from college that my roommates and I plotted to get over a night of drinking and hair dyeing (by the morning after clearing the drunken haze, and after evaluating the shoddiness of the black cats we had drawn on each other in Sharpie, we all decided it was a bad idea).
What tattoo would you like to share a story about? Describe it a bit for us: What was the process you went through for deciding to get this tattoo? What shop did you go to, and who was your artist? What part of your body is your tattoo on, etc.
I’d like to share a story about my first tattoo which is a large back piece with a gnarly tree and black birds, designed and inked by Paul Foertsch of Old School Tattoo in Bellingham. Getting tattooed really marked a turning point in my life because I had never committed to something so completely. Up until that point, jobs, relationships, houses, hobbies, even pets were things that were temporary in my life. I think that’s why I waited so long to get a tattoo, because I was never ready to commit to picking out something that I cared about enough to have inked on my body forever! It marked (haha) that point in my life when I really began to trust my own decisions and choices.
How did you choose between color or no color?
I went with no color for my first tattoo because I really admired the grayscale work of the artist who drew and inked my tattoo. His design looks more like a charcoal drawing than a tattoo! My neck piece is a ruby gem (in honor of my dog Ruby) and of course is red because otherwise it wouldn’t be much of a ruby!
What was the experience of getting the tattoo like for you? Painful? Freeing?
The pain wasn’t surprising because I had a great tattoo-tor named Dumpling who coached me through what to expect. She explained that if you could stand the feeling of a bic pen rubbing back and forth across your skin over and over again, you would be able to sit through a tattoo. I also had the lucky fortune of watching her get tattooed, though that isn’t necessarily the best comparison because that girl is HARD CORE. What surprised me more than anything was how wasted my body felt, how dehydrated I became, and how COLD my body became in the process. Large scale tattoos really are traumatic to your body! My back piece took four sessions that lasted 3-4 hours each. The first session was no big deal, but the third was the absolute worst! My most freeing moment happened during the first session when Paul, the artist, had me check the layout of the transfer on my body right before he started to ink. He asked, “Are you ready for this? Forever and ever?” Of course! The first moment the ink hit my skin, I knew there was no turning back!
What do you tell people when they ask about the meaning of your tattoo? Is that a question you like to answer?
I get a little squirmy when people ask me “What does your tattoo mean?” If I went in to all the reasons why I got that particular tattoo in that particular place at that particular time in my life, I might as well give you my diary to read. I had the same problem with explaining the meaning of my artwork when I was in art school. If someone sees my tattoo and it has meaning to them, then the job is done. Sharing the meaning with others kind of cheapens the impact for me. Make sense? The short answer is, I usually tell people that it is about me and my family. Although I’m sure my parents would hate that fact!
How did friends/family react to your tattoo? Were their potential reactions something you considered before getting your tattoo?
I knew that my parents would not be happy with me getting a tattoo. They have made it pretty clear over the years that only prisoners, bikers and pirates have tattoos. I wasn’t sure how my boyfriend would feel. He seemed a little hesitant at first, especially when I told him how big it was going to be. Nowadays he tells me that he barely even notices it anymore! My friends were all very supportive because many of them were already tattooed or were planning on getting a tattoo.
Have you had any issues with showing your tattoos in certain situations (at work, etc.)? How does that make you feel?
I haven’t had any issues in my workplace about showing my tattoos because I am lucky to work in a pretty laid back office. Our rules about tattoos are that as long as your supervisor doesn’t have an issue with them, then it is okay to show them. I mean, I work with Dumpling after all, and there’s no way she could cover all of her work! I do worry though that future employers may not be as cool with tattoos as where I currently work. However, there is hope for the future! As the Millenials like myself start to move up into leadership positions, tattoos will be less of an issue in the workplace. I read somewhere recently that nearly 40% of people in my generation have a tattoo, and 50% of those folks have more than one tattoo! I totally believe it. Where getting tattooed was once something that only dangerous rebels did, now you see doctors, lawyers, social workers and cops with tattoos. We are experiencing a social shift, much like women wearing pants or wearing their hair short.
Let’s get DEEP for a minute: What do you think about the idea of tattooed people belonging to a subculture? Do you think that’s true?
Whoa. Heavy question. I don’t feel like I belong to “the” tattoo subculture, because I live in a part of the country that is generally accepting of tattoos. I would feel a lot more sub-culture-y if I was back in my hometown in Indiana where tattoos still regarded as icky or weird. When I have been back to my hometown and blazed the tats, I get a lot of funny reactions. My favorite was the little old lady who I expected to give a disapproving statement, but she actually commented on the beauty of the work!.