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30 Nov 2014 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Getting ON the grid:, Tattooing

As of late I have pretty much gotten over my love affair with paper. Really the only time I use it is between the printer and the thermofax machie and that is it. That said, it brings me down whenever I walk into the shop and see piles of consent forms that no one ever really looks at or reads. Also after watching Gabriel Ripleys video on Building a Great Tattoo Business I have decided to start keeping a lot better notes about who I am working on and what they want or are after.

So I’ve looked around quite a bit. For the past year I have been wanting to build a Consent form app but couldn’t really make it happen. Then I saw that Voluta tattoo Digital made one, but low and behold it is only for iPhone and iPad. If you know me, you know that I cannot stand Apple shit, so in waiting for Voluta Digital to get with the program and make and android or windows app I decided to see what else I could find as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each.

The first two were obvioulsly the afore mentioned and then someone else suggested Inktd.com . Obviously any help that we can get to be a little more streamlined and professional in our industry is great, however I do get a little tired of people just wrapping up something with a tattoo name tag (and price tag) on it when there are better free products out there. Inktd isnt even a company that can take a form, it is just a calendar and for that the calendar included with a google account is much better, but I will touch on that later. The Voluta app looked pretty cool, but I had no apple products to try it out. It is a semi customizeable app that allows you to make a form legal in your state and even take a picture of a drivers license. The one thing is that it is a subscription service. I do like however that you can buy a flat number of forms and use them as you go instead of  a monthly subscription. The main thing for me was that it was pretty straight forward about just being for one purpose, but it does have a nice black theme that I really like. The issue for me is that they require you to upload the forms to their cloud, and I really do not need that one specific part

Thinking about all of the data I wanted to keep track of I decided that I would look into the Google suite of programs. Low and behold they have a form builder program and the data collected on the forms can alo be presented graphically at the push of a button which I really like. There are many skins and themes available and you can easily upload your own pictures to make the form your own, and you can even embed this form on your site or in an email, and best of all it is already integrated into everything that I do and the information is accessible from anywhere. The issue? Sadly at this time google cannot take a uploads (which I allow my customers for reference or shots of coverups) nor can it access the camera on your device to get a picture of the ID.

After that I found Canvas, at gocanvas.com.  It doesnt have a dark theme, and it IS a straight up subscrition service, but aside from that it is the most fluid and customizeable app that I found. It has a professional feel and I just have my customers fill out the form on a tablet and send it on in. It can take pictures of ID’s or existing tattoos and do file uploads straight from the device. the service is like $20 a month (and depending on if you are alone or with a shop this could be better or worse than Voluta, but the trick is that in that month you have unlimited uploads and can use an unlimited number of forms (they call them apps) Additionally, you get a PDF of all of the forms and you have many delivery options, I currently have it set to save to my Drive account and then I download them to the local machine periodically. You may also download .csv files of the results and place them into google sheets to better track the data being given in the forms themselves.

For me, Canvas is so far the one, but it is far from a one stop shop. I have decided that the best thing for me is to use a couple of different methods. I have just a regular form for consultations on my site, a google form that I can send in an email if I need to, and a Canvas App that I can have a customer fill out on a tablet if they come in to the shop. I also made a consent form which calls for my signature at the end so I get a chance to review the form, at this point I sign and save it, after the tattoo I open it back up and record the final price of the session along with any notes and then upload the form. Later I will import that data to google to keep a contact list, keep track of what people are spending with me and figure out how to promote myself to my audience better.

The only right way is to test out as many of these business and productivity apps as possible to see what works best for you and your process, this is what worked for me. Then don’t be afraid to change what is working well for something that will be perfect.

Thanks for reading, if you have any questions about the business side of  tattooing in the 21st century please contact  me!

26 Nov 2014 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Getting ON the grid:, Life, Tattooing

I’m tryig to get about as far away from paper as is possible. I’ve also noticed over the years that very few customers, in fact very few artists, have any clue what they are signing. Also, once the client signs the paper and brings it to me as an artist, I personally just let them stack up when I should be taking them more seriously.

Therefore, I have made the switch to digital. When you come to get a tattoo from me, you will be given a tablet on which to fill out your consultation form. I’ve set it up in a way that basically forces the reader to read it as I have made everything to automatically give a “yes” .  I did this with the contact form too

I do worry that between the consultation and consent forms that I’ve given people WAY more reading than they are ready for, but I am hopeful that this new plan will basically give all of ym customers a complete view of all of my process as well as all of the inherent risks of the tattoo process. Thanks to everyone for all of your support!

29 Jan 2014 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Big Ideas, Life, Tattooing

Ok folks! I’m going out on a limb here and doing the big Tattoo-No-No, I’m making deals… On custom portraits no less! ! I want to do 10 charachter study tattoos for my portfolio before the convention season starts. I am highly motivated to get 5 people and 5 animals done. If you’ve worked with me you know that I generally charge a little more for portraits as they are a specialty and because the pressure to make the memory of the person last forever is pretty intense. I in this case I will not be doing any personal or family portraits. I will be doing tattoos of fun sketches and paintings that I choose of my own work. They will turn out awesome! This is because if you look at my portfolio the stuff that comes out best is the stuff that I have the most fun with and control over.

What I am going to be considering are wildlife, pets (pending on reference photos available), celebrities or historical figures. What I am looking for is people who are immediately recognizable to anyone who looks. In the case of my character studies, I generally spend a lot more time on the drawing and for these paintings I generally charge at least as much as the tattoo. For this project I will give up all original sketches and the tattoo at a rate that will make it possible and pleasurable for us both. The way that it works is that you fill out the form at the bottom of this page and let me know what you are considering. Once I consider and approve of the subject matter I will get to sketching. Next, we will handle it like any professional illustration project where I am the artist and you are the art director. I will send you all of the sketches and allow you to choose from the best of them. Then we will do a value or color study, and finally tattoo. Some of them will have a finished painting, and some of them I will be able to tattoo from a sketch and that will be decided by me as we go along since the goal of the whole thing is the tattoo, but I will definitely give up all of my preliminary work in either digital or wall ready form.


So if you have a person that you would totally get tattooed, but the cost of portraits stops you, or a specific animal you would like to get tattooed, now is the time. Pricing will still be time and energy dependent, but it should be a lot more forgiving than my normal portrait work. The first 10 great ideas get the deal. Thanks for checking it out!

To see more of my work you can check out my portfolio or follor me anywhere by checking out my contact page.

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16 Nov 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing

I’m always trying to find answers to as many of the little issues that life throws at me as possible. I wanted to share some things that I think are applicable to our life in the shop. Often, I notice that many tattoo shops, especially street shops, lack adequate space for that most important or our chores, drawing. I wanted to cover a quick fix for this: a low cost, zero floor space, cheap drawing table.

Since my first gesture drawing class, I have been hooked on lap boards and I think they are a great solution when needing to move around is a must. Sitting in the chair and having the board at an angle against a table or the back of another chair gives a large drawing area and a much more comfortable angle. The other thing that most people don’t really notice is how much a horizontal surface can potentially skew a drawing.

Personally, I was looking for a more permanent fix and so I did some “figurin'” to come up with an idea that matched all of the benefits of having a large drawing table without loosing any floor space in the shop. The one thing about this plan in particular (which I am hoping that some of you will turn into ideas of your own) is that it is not very adjustable. So, as the old adage goes, measure twice cut once. On the upside, it is so cheap and easy that you can have multiple drawing surfaces in the shop that work for different people or drawing styles or projects for well under $100.

In our shop, most of the artists like to draw pretty big which we like because you can get a lot of life into the work when drawing with your whole arm. Personally, I’m about the newsprint because I would rather retrace my design with a marker on tracing paper than slide the rough onto the copier, or photograph it and deal with it digitally, but sometimes I can go big with it or sometimes I can work out a whole bunch of thumbnails on one sheet. Most papers have a larger style (I like 18×24), just think about what you like to draw on and then buy your table based on having enough room to draw and support your whole drawing pad and arms and whatever else you need, while still fitting the space.  Obviously, you don’t need to go that big, but you could go larger or smaller on the table or paper (all of the measurements for this will be unique to you and your situation, so I’m not going to get too deep into that. ) Just read this, think about the logic of it, then go out and build your own that is perfect for your situation.

I started with a very complicated idea, which I won’t get into, but I will say looking back that I don’t know how my head got that far up my ass. I had spent all this time planning out this awesome drawing table with a support frame and a bunch of super heavy wood with a crazy detailed stain. Sounded good until I realized that it was going to be entirely too heavy for the wall and the stain didn’t go as easy as I thought it would. In the end, what worked the best was to keep it simple, use this 24″ x 48 1/2″ MDF for like $10. I just had them cut right there at Home Depot, to like 24″ x 36″ then painted it to match the wall that it was going to hang on with paint from the shop, so that you can barely tell it’s there at all. Very low impact, even visually. It’s great!

Think about a cabinet on any wall…. Now keep the door, take away the cabinet and put the door on the wall hinges up. There you go… in theory at least. In practice, you want to be sure you cover a few loose ends.

Anyway, that’s basically it.  Build away, but I will tell you a few things to keep in mind so you don’t screw anything up too badly. And if you do screw up, don’t tell anyone I told you to do it! If you need a babysitter so you don’t fuck up your shop, then call yo momma!

  • Measure Twice Cut (or drill) Once: Seriously… don’t fuck around.
  • Get a stud finder, and I don’t mean your lady. They’re like $10-$20 at Home Depot. Read the manual so that you can hang this heavy wood in a place that it won’t fall off the wall mid-drawing and will support you leaning on it a bit. You may possibly have to hang a support from the wall to then hang the board from, depending on your situation. Making sure the hinges get screwed in to a stud (or solid base in any event) is much more important than making the hinges even on the table. Get it? The table should hang level and swing properly, but the hinges can attach wherever.
  • Next look at the hinges pictured. You will want to avoid the type of hinge with one arrow and go for this type of hinge with two arrows. The reason is that even though I want it as tight as possible on the wall when considering floorspace, that extra step gives just enough clearance to use THESE to clip the paper to the board so it is good to have that extra 1/4″ in the back so that it fits back there and you can still swing the table out from the wall. If you check out the diagram, you can see in the second set where the clip would hit the wall on table A. That will piss off a building owner real quick and looks like crap. You may use a different way of attaching your canvas.
  • Use a level, if you don’t, its like hanging a door diagonally on a wall and trying to open it straight, it will be crooked for every drawing forever so just take the extra 2 minutes and make it right. Where the hinges attach to the wall is more important than the where they attach on the table so figure out that part first
  • Figure out how you want to attach your paper and get hinges that facilitate that. Maybe you like spiral watercolor paper and you can hang the rings from hooks. I like to use these binder clips I got at the local college supply store because it works for a pad of newsprint but also would work to hold a short stack of any paper and you can use them to hang reference from it during tattoos. With little to no effort at all it can also be made to accommodate a canvas.
  • Get a board light enough for your wall, but heavy enough to lean into and large enough to hold your paper plus whatever elbow space you need to be comfortable or attach a reference to. Think about it, test it with cardboard or something and know what you want when you go to the store so you can have them cut it. I went to Home Depot, in and out in under 20 minutes with everything I needed measured and cut. I think the wood,  and hinges to do it the way I did it was under $20, but then I got some screw sets and a stud finder. For very little extra you can add some support legs which I will get into in a minute.
  • Think about how you are comfortable drawing because this design is not adjustable (although that wouldn’t be too hard to plan). For me, I was already using a lap board and I have a very comfortable chair so the easiest thing was to put the table at a height where I just lift it up, roll in and rest it in my lap. When I’m done and walk away it hangs flat on the wall and I can choose to leave the sketches on display or not. One of the other artists at our shop likes draw standing up so I am going to put that into that into the design and make some sort of fold out legs behind the table so it supports itself at the exact right angle and height. Probably this would be easiest by cutting a pair of wedges and attach them to the panel with more hinges, but this time you can use the smaller flatter hinges, just be careful to use small screws and don’t kill it when you drill it because if they come through the other side or rip out, then you’re not making drawing table, you’re just screwing yourself.
  • If you want to attach a more permanent clip at the top or a strip of something to catch your pencil at the bottom, or a nail on the side to hang a pencil cup from obviously you can do all of that and anything else you can think of pretty easily.
  • Begin with the end in mind as they say…. seriously, don’t fuck around.
  • Slap a TAMBlog sticker on it and get your ass back to work!

drawingtabledrawing1

04 Oct 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Big Ideas, Life

For a while I’ve been wanting to try to work on an actual “series” and have had a rough time figuring out exactly what I want to do. I’ve been back and forth about doing dogs or wildlife and maybe eventually making a calendar or something that I can sell some copies of.

I’ve always felt that in the tattoo industry, there are a few main conceptions that people have about portraits. One is that you should never ever ever deviate from the picture provided ever (even though 80% of the pictures we are brought to do tattoos of are shit). And the other is that portrait tattooers are copiers who cant really draw. To me, these ideas seem at odds, if the picture is shitty, just redraw it. Bing ! Bang! Boom! Two problems solved. So, as I worked more on the portrait side of my life over the summer I think my “artists eye” matured a bit and one of the ideas that started to crystallize was to do other portrait artists, some of whom I feel are very talented and some of whom I think have much better marketing that they have skill with a persons face. To put it simply there are a few fairly well known portrait artists whose covers I would like to pull.

When I was trying to put together the list of people I would like to talk shit about, It became very clear that I know many more very talented tattooers from many different generations and styles and it would be a waste to use everything I’ve learned merely to poke fun at people. That’s when the new plan became very clear. I never had a traditional apprenticeship but I have been inspired both positively and negatively along the way by a great number of people. Many are tattooers but not exclusively. Some of these people have taught me who I want to be as a person and many have tought me about the person I do not want to be, but I have learned from them all even if they wouldn’t remember me.

I think I will call the series “Inspirational Characters” and it will include everyone along the way and hopefully give me a little chance to discuss some of the things that I have learned with an overall tone of “Be careful who you become, you never know just who you may inspire”… Anyway, more later off to the shop…

04 Oct 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing

So the verdict is finally in and I will definitely be heading to the Portland Tattoo Expo 2013 in October! I had some legal trouble in LA so I wasn;t sure if I was going to make it but as it turns out, it wasn’t me! Some other guy with my same name and birthday skiped town without paying a ticket but it definitely wasn’t me. I don’t have much planned but I am hoping to do one or two of these Character Portraits that I’ve been working on but that seems to be a little slow on the uptake. If nothing else I will hopefully get some good reference for my upcoming series of Inspirational Characters. Anyway, if you go to the Portland Expo be sure to stop and say whats up!

24 Jun 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing
24 Jun 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing
08 May 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing
13 Mar 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing
08 Mar 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing

I try to do this  “pay it forward” thing with my life, so lately I”ve been feeling like it would be useful to our shop apprentice if we were to do a collaboration piece.  We are going to take this piece of hers britts bunny

 

 

 

 

 

which she wants to tattoo to touch on a variety of subjects during the course of the tattoo. Then we are going to re-design it totally keeping only the basic  subject matter and keeping in mind the different techniques she is trying to learn about. I’m guessing this tattoo will be about 2 separate half day  sessions, not sure how we are going to price it yet, if there seems to be interest we may try to raffle it off for a few bucks a ticket.

04 Mar 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing Tags: , , ,
01 Mar 2013 Posted by: Comments: 0 In: Life, Tattooing Tags: , , ,