According to Hamilton, many people are requesting complex designs that reflect their personality and their interests.
Bryan Wheeler pulled the sleeve of his shirt up to the shoulder Friday as he explained what the tattoos on his arm mean. He has a flaming clef note and the Muppet Animal tattooed on his arm. Wheeler is a drummer.
“The most unusual request I got was when a woman brought her friend in to get a tattoo,” Hamilton said. “The woman was a self-described shopaholic. She felt compelled to get a tattoo because her friend was getting one. She decided to get a small shopping bag on her deltoid with the words ‘shopping arm’ written in the bag.”
Because equipment has made tattooing more exact with digital patterns and vibrant colors, intricate designs are attainable.
According to the state Health Department, each tattoo artist must obtain an individual permit before embarking on their craft. Tattoo studios are also licensed under a separate permit process. The profession is a unique mixture of art and science, Hamilton explained.
“I joined the Alliance of Professional Tattooists and I have taken the training in Florida about how to prevent blood-borne pathogens,” Hamilton said. “The industry has changed over the years, the equipment has evolved and the color pigments are better.”
But it’s not just about the technical know-how for Hamilton.
“My favorite part of the job is building a relationship with people,” he said. “When someone walks in as a customer and then comes back for three or four tattoos, you really get to know them. I think tattoo artists are right up there with hair stylists and bartenders; we should get our sociology degree.”