It wasn’t long after that my son Frank turned 16. Keeping with the tradition of being a mixed child, half redneck and half white trash, the first thing he wanted to do was to get his tattoo. A few days later we were at Marked for Life talking to Rick.
The shop is super clean and organized all the way around. Right away I was impressed by how professional and friendly they all were. Rick chatted with Frank and they planned the tattoo and the appointment was made. Frank loves his tattoo, a Trinity symbol, just like one of Dad’s on his calf. Fast forward 6 months and I start The Cheap Biker, and bikers love tattoos so here we go.
The other day I met up with Rick's lovely bride Cecily, and artists Laura and Christi also chimed in. We sat outside at a picnic bench on a nice day and here is what I learned.
|This is what happens when your friends are assholes, in this case Sam,|
and you ask them to take a picture and don't check it. Well played my friend.
Most tattoo artists I have met just started drawing at a young age and decided to make money off of that love. Rick was a little different. He was a graffiti artist while growing up in Philly. His love of art motivated him to do something with his talent, so instead of going to art school (or jail for painting on shit) he got into tattooing and has never looked back. He describes his work as neo traditional.
Cecily on the other hand is a freak for cartoons and enjoys doing those the best. She was just drawing when she and Rick got together and she says Rick “forced her to tattoo” with a huge smile on her face.
M4L has been around for over a decade. First on Queen St and now at 2375 Eastern Blvd York PA. With that kind of longevity, I asked them what their advice would be for someone wanting to become a tattoo artist. Here was their response.
|Front desk, where Sam lives|
When asked what the number one issue is with customers, they both said it was that people who don’t tattoo under estimate the cost of good ink. But because the person wants the tattoo, and they want to be the ones doing it, they say they are almost always able to work something out.
I asked them what the biggest drag is about being a tattoo artist, especially a well-known one. They both said people wanting to constantly talk shop. Cecily said “you will be in a bar having a few drinks and someone wants to tell you this deep meaning behind their tattoo, when you just want to chill”.
Their advice to anyone getting their first or 30th tattoo? Bring a bunch of ideas, preferably on your phone from Pinterest, Google images, or whatever. This tells them what you are looking for and streamlines the experience. They don’t charge for conspiring with you on your tattoo so take advantage so they know exactly what you want before the needle hits skin.
It was amazing to me how much I learned about the tattoo business in a short time. As someone who is pretty heavily tattooed, I have a new appreciation for what it takes not only to be a good tattoo artist but to make a successful business out of it when so many others fail.
You can tell that everyone in the shop loves what they are doing and it shows. If you live in the area or will be visiting York say for the Harley Open House in September and feel the need for some new ink, you definitely need to check out Marked 4 Life Tattoos. About 10 minutes from the HD Factory on Eden Rd in York.