Tag Archives: Tattoo shop

#BoozyLife is Bound for Puerto Rico and Senzala Tattoo

Puerto Rico Bound

Puerto Rico Bound

Finally, after years of being the airport drop-off driver for this very commonly repeated trip, I’m tagging along to Puerto Rico with the husband! Early December, my man Lefty will be back at it, doing a guest spot at Senzala Tattoo in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico–one of the oldest existing cities in America. I’ll be blogging along the way, hanging out at the tattoo shop, trying local delicacies and boozy beverages galore–when I’m not touring rainforests and a bioluminescent bay…..and beaches, and hiking….

Have any recommendations for stops along the way that I absolutely shouldn’t miss? Leave a comment here, on my FB page, or tweet at me on Twitter @BoozyLife 🙂

Lefty at Senzala Dec 8-14

Lefty at Senzala Dec 8-14

Aaaand, if you’d like to schedule a tattoo appointment with Lefty while we’re in PR, get a hold of Senzala Tattoo for any tattoo availability and booking (follow the link above)!

Tattoo Conventions and (Boozy)Life on the Road

Paris Tattoo Convention

Paris Tattoo Convention

Tattoo Conventions are a huge business, and show numbers are growing exponentially worldwide. Promoters compete for the best weekends, and to host the biggest names in tattooing. Larger cities and markets often have the highest regarded shows- Paris and London are long running, premiere events that artists try to plan their schedules around. Serious tattoo collectors often follow favorite artists on social media, and travel hundreds of miles for a sitting with an artist they might not otherwise have access to. Sites like Facebook and Instagram help artists to gain exposure internationally, and connect first hand with potential clients. So, what happens at these things? Why would a tattoo artist go out of their comfort zone and hit the road?

NETWORKING- Conventions are a great place to expand your circle. The best of the best choose only particular shows- if you’re good enough to get in, you’re hanging with the top percentage of artists practicing the craft.

Tin Tin from Paris

Tin Tin from Paris

Meeting other artists and connecting on a personal level sets up future growth potential. ‘Guest spots’ are essentially invites to work at another shop for a small amount of time, which enable artists to learn from each other and work in a different space. Give and take to build and grow within the circle.

IMG_0804.JPGTATTOOING- YES, tattoo artists tattoo at tattoo conventions. Seems like common sense, right? Artists pay for a booth that has all of the necessities to work,- tables, chairs, electricity, and basic supplies are provided (paper towels, electricity, etc.). Artists vary in setup: some bring a banner and their equipment, others can enjoy more showmanship and decorate the booth with a bit more flare. Convention promoters for high end shows focus on safety, for clients as well as artists. If you want to get tattooed by a particular artist, it’s always a good idea to communicate with them first! Email usually works best,  and setting up an appoint will guarantee that you’re not left out of getting tattooed. Saturday is usually the busiest day of any show, so plan accordingly.

EXPOSURE- Getting out there builds a tattoo artist’s name as well as client base. The more people that see you on the road (artists and clients alike), the more familiar you become within the tattoo industry. Magazines and media cover larger shows, and now it’s pretty common to see TV cameras too. Nothing like a good freak show! 🙂

20140506-165343.jpg

Artists on the beach in Tofino, Vancouver Island

TRAVEL- If you had a job that allowed you to see the world, and it required your dedication and energy and study to continue to improve and grow? Would you? Tattoo artists take advantage of these opportunities, absorbing reference and details from touring like sponges. Artwork is a living process, and the work these artists produce is even more so. Seeing this great big world adds a level of a different consciousness, and a tie to the world history of tattooing.

20140314-162425.jpgLOCATIONS- So, where the hell are these tattoo conventions? Damn near everywhere!  If it’s a major city, there is at least one major show. If there are no shows near you, chances are you’re not living in a metropolitan area! Want to go to one? TRAVEL!! Drive, fly, however….don’t stagnate and wait for one of these shows to come to you in the stix. Make a weekend of it, spend a day at the show, and then enjoy the area you’re in! That’s where I came up with the BoozyLife–conventions are fun, but unless you’re getting tattooed CONVENTIONS ARE BORING AFTER A FEW HOURS. YOU CAN ONLY WALK SO MANY LAPS AROUND THE FLOOR BEFORE YOUR EYES GLAZE OVER. Head to a city, catch a convention, and see what that particular city has to offer! I focus on mostly wineries and booze, but tattoo artists LOVE to eat at the highest rated gourmet restaurants– also a tradition for Sunday night dinner at the wrap of the show. If you see a gang of heavily tattooed, usually slightly loud men and women headed into your restaurant after eight on a Sunday night? LET THEM IN. They will make it worth your while (servers LOVE these guys!)

In our booth

In our booth

Now that you have all that info, where is a show near you? Well, we landed in Ithaca because it’s rural, but about four hours central to several hubs we use a lot. (NYC, Toronto, Montreal). Rochester is now home to the Roc City Tattoo Expo, best upstate NY convention by far– this year May 1st-3rd! http://www.roccitytattooexpo.com

We also use the website http://www.worldtattooevents.com  This comprehensive calendar lists conventions in the US, Europe, Canada, and damn near everywhere else in the world. No matter where you are, Waldo….there’s a show (and probably a winery or two) worth checking out. Keep reading BOOZYLIFE to see where we end up next…catch you soon kids!Chardonnay vines in the snow

Eight Year Tattoo Anniversary –My Road to a Backpiece

IMG_1423.JPG

 

From the time I was young, I had an infatuation with New York City. Maybe it was the fact that my uncle had cable, and after school I would watch cartoons that were littered with commercials for magical places like Toys R Us and Macy’s, where children played with toys that came to life. So much excitement, so many things to do! I needed to go there. My first trip to NYC was with my fifth grade art history club. We went to a few major museums, the Village, the World Trade Center (still have pics from the observation windows), and Chinatown, where one of my teachers was pick pocketed in the bathroom of the buffet restaurant by a tricky woman of at least eighty. By the time we made it back to the bus, I was in tears. I didn’t want to leave-there was the feeling that I was missing something, that I was leaving something behind. I would make many trips, always wanting to stay there, missing that other piece of myself when I left.

I finished my time in Upstate NY, and spent the next twelve years moving around the east coast for my job as an event photography manager for Kodak. When the eventual management spot opened in NYC, I fought to get it-and the spot was mine. I managed the Kodak imaging area for the new World of Disney on 55th St. and Fifth Avenue. I also started researching tattoo artists-I had decided to take the next step and start a traditional Phoenix back piece. After almost a year and change, I was introduced to tattoo artist Eddie Molina through a friend of a friend. His tattoo work fit what I had in mind perfectly, and he worked all custom on large pieces, meaning the piece would be drawn on to fit my body’s natural curves.

From outline to color-six months

From outline to color-six months

Eddie was in a transitional period where he was trying to leave the city for a while and get perspective on what he wanted to do in his future tattooing career. I sat for him once a week, sometimes twice, in the fear that one day Eddie would leave and I would have to find him to finish my back. It was an unfounded fear, but one that I had starting such a large piece. My first sitting we lined in the entire bird; second sitting was the entire tail and feathers. Progress was fast, and I was investing most of my spare time to it as well. A back piece is a huge investment, not only financially but emotionally as well as physically. Trust in your artist is paramount.

I was paying hourly for my tattoo, every session, but I often felt like I wasn’t doing enough to compensate Eddie for what he was giving me. My Phoenix is a symbol, my own forever talisman. It reminds me that I am a strong, fierce, powerful female energy, and completion would mark my journey towards being the woman I wanted to eventually be. The divine female power, forever etched in my skin. I became Eddie’s go-to gal, driving him to JFK and saving cab fares for multiple trips. After all, I was still stubborn enough to keep a car in Queens. We became friends outside the studio, spending too many hours trapped in traffic on the Grand Central Parkway, and Eddie came to recognize that he was as much of a shaman to me as a tattooer.

Finished main image

Finished main image

We started the piece in June of 2006. We were finishing the final touch up session on my bird November 22, 2006-just six months from the start of the Sharpie sessions. I could not believe how fast Eddie accomplished the goal, and how much the entire process had meant to me as a woman growing into her own skin, to decorate it with meaning. I was over the moon with my new work…and a few weeks later, already missing our tattoo sessions, called him to say thank you again. It turned out my tattoo artist missed seeing me too, and asked me out for dinner and a movie. We went to a lovely churrasco for dinner, then saw Happy Feet in IMAX. (Yes, the penguin movie. Don’t judge, that set me up for a marriage full of animated joys! Ha!) Afterwards, we walked to the train station through Central Park, wandering in the moonlight. Looking back, I’ve never had another night like that.

So, eight years later–We moved upstate, bought a house, got married, and adopted a few fur kids. Eddie built his dream tattoo shop, and here we are, making a go of it.20130423-112450.jpg We’ve both lost a parent, family close to us, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Eddie travels internationally for his tattoo career, sometimes going as far as Japan or Korea. Our life together isn’t always easy, there are challenges and balances and difficulties just like anything else. We have each other, and we figure it out as we go.

Walking down the aisle, showing my artwork

Walking down the aisle, showing my artwork

As for my Phoenix? It took six months to finish the main image of the bird, and the last seven years working on background elements. No rush anymore, so we’ve taken the slow and steady path. My background is now a collaborative effort with our good friend Cory Ferguson , owner of Good Point Tattoo Oakvile ON.

Eddie n Cory, my magicians

Eddie n Cory, my magicians

This. Is. SPAAAARTAAAAAA!!

This. Is. SPAAAARTAAAAAA!!

Husband's turn

Husband’s turn

The piece has been a reflection of my journey into the tattoo world, so I’m excited to also have a close friend add to it.

progress

progress

IMG_1302I’m not sure how much longer we have to go with my back. Hell, it might never truly be finished, which is now a reflection of my life in the tattoo world. Strangest thing though, whenever I leave NYC now? I never feel like I’m leaving part of myself behind anymore….I think I took him with me. <3

Us.

Us.

Tattooing as an Artform, and the Stigma That Is Still Attached: Legitimate Business, or still just for Sailors and Whores?

The Bossman at work-- our business The Hand of Fate Tattoo in Ithaca, NY.

The Bossman at work– our business The Hand of Fate Tattoo in Ithaca, NY.

My husband Edward Molina is an artist. His chosen medium is often skin, but he is more than incredible on canvas, walls, and office envelopes. He is the ultimate in duality; a talented, committed artist, and a business owner that is also first and foremost a tattooer. I was raised by a woman that absolutely hated tattoos, as well as the craft. Draw on paper, please, just not on my daughter. Her mentality never changed, even though she loved my husband dearly. I understood her position, but I never let it change my stance, and eventual tattoo wife-dom. I’m relatively heavily tattooed at this point, and I’ve definitely noticed some changes in the way people tend to react to me at times. Love it or hate it, I’m a heavily tattooed woman, that is absolutely invested in being a collector of custom artwork created just for me.

Today, I was scrolling online and an article in the Democrat & Chronicle Rochester caught my attention. Have a read if you’d like, that is what started my line of thought that led to this post. Are tattoo studios ‘artists’ studios’? Pittsford says NO. Once I clicked on the link, I realized these are good friends of ours! Joseph ‘Jet’ DiProjetto is the owner of Love Hate Tattoo in Rochester, a VERY well established shop, AND the promoter for the Roc City Tattoo Expo, probably the best convention in upstate NY to date. It is the only convention that we attend in upstate NY, because it is by invitation only, and the artist roster is always spectacular talent from around the world. Now, what happens when this very respected businessman tries to open a satellite studio in the burbs for his clients? According to the article:

“The sticking point for the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals was whether the men would work out of an “artists’ studio.”

Defining their workplace was crucial because village zoning regulations specify that artists doing business in the section of Pittsford where these men wanted to set up shop must work out of an “artists’ studio.”

After much back and forth, the board voted 4-to-1 to uphold a decision of the village building inspector that the workplace of Joseph DiProjetto and Ben Wight wouldn’t meet code.

You see, DiProjetto and Wight are tattoo artists and they’re covered in ink.”

Until pretty recently, my tattoos were easy to keep covered. Once I jumped to the ‘dark side’, the reactions I get in the professional forum vary, from interest to disdain, and most folks are happy to tell me what they think without prompting. I understand this is an article that covers a zoning disagreement, but it’s so much more from a tattoo shop owners’ standpoint. I worked in the über corporate Walt Disney World Orlando, and then for EIS Kodak as a location manager in New York City. While most corporations still call for employees to cover their artwork, there is a movement towards a less strict body art policy. When I was the photo manager at Top of the Rock (yes, the big NYC observation deck was one of our multiple million dollar accounts, and yes, a tattoo collector was running the place), I was also dating my now husband. I saw how New York City tattoo shops operated. Trust me, a tattoo shop IS A BUSINESS. Again, quoting from the D&C article-

“Village zoning regulations permit upward of 30 types of businesses there, from jewelers and opticians to supermarkets and drug stores, as well as “other retail businesses and service uses of similar character.”

Ok, there it is–of a ‘similar character’ to already existing businesses. I help run a business that bought us a house, pays for our existence, and keeps kibble in bowls. Compared to my TOTR gig, it’s definitely more of a relaxed environment day to day. In leu of that, I deal with much of the same day to day business goings on that I used to. Advertising, marketing, budgets, customer service, banking–all of this goes into daily operations. It’s a business, it’s an artist studio, and it’s a WAY OF LIFE, not just a job.

What it comes down to? The narrow minded, anti tattoo folks trying to keep the deviants out of their awesome little hamlet. No worries, we go where we are appreciated. Something similar happened recently in our little College Town area as well, so the hill isn’t any better in our seemingly liberal little town–make no mistake. Some individuals still hold true that tattoos are for sailors, whores, and pirates. I kind of dig that, actually. As Jet himself put it-

“It comes down to Pittsford not wanting tattooed people in their town doing business,” said DiProjetto. “It’s okay if a tattooed person is pumping your gas, but a tattooed person opening a business in Mayberry won’t fly.”

What do you think? I’d love to hear your responses below!

Art Tattoo Show Montreal 2014

IMG_0800.JPG BoozyLife is in Montreal this weekend for the 2014 Montreal Tattoo Art Show! Check in after the event for my wrap up, or follow along on my Instagram at @missusmolina – Always a fantastic show put on by Pierre and Val of Tattoo Mania Studio, in the fabulous city of Montreal ☺️

Moms With Tattoos –A Photography Exhibit in Toronto by Cory Vanderploeg

I have been so busy with prepping for all of Eddie’s travels, I haven’t posted about our trip to NIX 2014 in Toronto! We went up just to see friends and socialize, no tattooing (yeah, right!), and it was a lovely weekend of friends and artwork, plus a lot of walking laps. I ran into another tattoo wife extraordinaire, Mrs. Sara Winterbottom, on her way to a gallery show she was featured in! Exciting to see a strong tattoo wife getting some attention too 😉

Sara is the CEO of Citrus City Tattoo and runs the tattoo shop along with her hubby and tattooer Keith Winterbottom. She and her man were on their way to an art gallery show featuring tattooed moms with their children–what a great idea! Sara and her lovely little girl River Jean sat for portraits, and the images are absolutely gorgeous. I’m including a few shots of Sara with her pics hanging in the gallery in Toronto. The love in their eyes is the focal point, and the tattoo work becomes secondary and softened. Tattooed women are fierce, independent, and sometimes loving moms as well. Beautiful, and I hope more photographers take note! Cory Vanderploeg is a photographer based in Toronto, and you can check out his website here: Cory Vanderploeg Photography.

20140627-143432-52472930.jpg

20140627-143518-52518044.jpg

20140627-143518-52518286.jpg

20140627-143518-52518525.jpgimages by Cory Vanderploeg

Blue Hair in a Little Town….Again

1604625_10152146116712855_1442183441_n

Blue hair, don’t care 🙂

Many, many moons ago, I dabbled with hair dye in college. It started innocently enough– deemed “an external manifestation of internal changes” by a psych major that had little classwork accomplished. From long blond to an angled bob dyed the color of black cherries, I was hooked. I tried them all, every color of the rainbow, much to the horror of music professors and my parents alike. Some think it’s bravery, others stupidity, others a cry for attention. Truth? I like fashion, I like extremes, and I’m very comfortable away from the center of the road. My mother warned me, continue to play with hair colors, and eventually you will wake up with your  entire head of hair on the pillow next to you. Not true…yet…and still I continue to play. This time, it’s a lovely robin’s egg blue…and a month from now, who knows? Whatever catches my eye. Owning a tattoo shop has given me the opportunity to play again, colors and pigments are par for the course. Sorry, mom, I never grew out of it….even all these years later!

Post Script–If you see me at your tasting bar, I hope my colors brighten the view this season! XO

Home is where the Heart is…On the Bus, with Loretta Leu

Sitting on the wall with Loretta, 2013

Sitting on the wall with Loretta, 2013

Loretta and Demetra“Home is where the heart is….on the bus.” -Frank Zappa, Wet T-Shirt Nite

It has taken me almost exactly two months to finish writing this blog post, and I’ve thought about it every single day. After our trip to the Montreal Art and Tattoo Show held in mid September, my husband hit the road with a vengeance. Paris, London, Barcelona, Eddie toured around for two international tattoo shows in just over three weeks, plus a few guest spots with new contacts. I stayed home on this sudden European jaunt, helping to run our tattoo shop and keep things from burning down at home. Eddie had watched Filip Leu tattoo a one sitting backpiece in Montreal, and had been ready to travel, draw, and tattoo compulsively soon after. The London Convention was calling; so was Barcelona. Off he went. I was a proud tattoo wife from across an ocean.

The Montreal Art and Tattoo Show 2013 was possibly one of the most memorable conventions I’ve experienced. The energy was electric. Everyone was excited to see the Leu Family, and tattoo artists traveled from near and far to watch some of the world’s best tattoo artists practice their craft, live. I was given the exceptional opportunity to sit down with the First Lady of tattoo, Loretta Leu aka Maria, wife of Felix, and talk shop about tattoo life, family, wine, and our beloved dogs. According to the Leu Family Iron site, Felix and Loretta started tattooing in 1978 in Goa, India, and essentially raised their four children as bohemians and exceptional artists. They are possibly our most well known tattoo family, as well as the most respected, and I found Loretta to be sweet, straight forward, gracious, and very candid. I asked her if I could possibly sit and interview for her for a bit, so she gathered her jacket and we decided to sit outside of the noisy, buzzing convention hall for some fresh air.

After some brief introductions, Loretta lit her cigarette and said, “So? What did you want to know?”

Where do I start? I asked about all of the travel she had done over the years with her husband Felix and their four children. Was that a difficult undertaking?

Pause. “I had traveled a lot already in my life with my mother, I had traveled a lot with Felix before we ever got into tattooing. We didn’t start until we were thirty-five, both of us. Tattooing was really a Godsend; it saved our asses, because we always lived an alternative lifestyle, with four kids, already. So, it was always difficult finding ways of surviving. We didn’t want to go work in a shop, we found things to do, we made crafts, we went and lived in Spain, cheaper places, we would find ways of being able to carry on, the way we wanted to live with our kids…you know, without working for the man kind of thing…but it was always difficult. We got a bit of help from my mother sometimes, Felix’s mom when things were really tough, so when through sheer coincidence this chance came into our life, it seemed the perfect thing, you know, because you are your own boss, you don’t need to sell it in the sense that they come to you because they want a tattoo. You could be on a beach in Brazil with a little tattoo case, start talking to someone in a café, go back to your hotel room or whatever, settle on a price, and if they want a tattoo you tattoo. It is a very direct thing. We were both already artists, started that way originally, so it seemed perfect. After we started tattooing, we still did a bit of traveling.”

“How does that amount of travel change your life views? Do you always feel the need to keep moving?”

“When you’re younger, I think traveling is really good. Now, I am more than happy to stay home, with my dog, relax in my garden. I think you should see what else is out there, experience other cultures, people-it is only beneficial. Go for it. How do I think traveling changes you? It benefits you. It helps you have a broader view on life, and you see that it can be other ways.” She smiled broadly.

“Filip grew up on the road, so to speak, as did all of our kids. We would settle in places for six months, a year, Spain five years, India four years, several spots. But, you know, but…how shall I say, it’s not where any of us came from. It was just, OK, for two years, this is our house, that’s it. You know Zappa, right?”

I nodded my head and said ‘Of course!’

“That line, ‘Home is where the heart is…ON THE BUS!!’” she laughed, and rowdily sang a bit of Zappa to passing gawking artists.

“If you could give any advice to tattoo wives trying to balance family and this business, what would it be?” She had my utter and full attention-this woman had information and experience that humbles most on this particular topic.

“Advice for the tattoo wife? Oh! I would tell them be involved.”

“How?”

“Be part of it. That was always our experience, we always tattooed in the same place that we lived if possible, we were always together all the time, meaning although we did different things, sometimes Felix did most of the tattooing, I would help, like, clean up, or I learned how to make needles, we were a team. I was very lucky with Felix, in the sense that he was uuummm…well…(pauses)…he was great, and from the beginning when we started sending out photos of work, which was actually HIS work, he always labeled it Felix and Loretta Leu-always.”

“That’s a beautiful credit”, I replied. That acknowledgement is something we all look for.

“In the beginning, there weren’t as many national magazines when we started, but he would never put just Felix Leu. I would feel funny sometimes, and I’d say, ‘look, I don’t think that’s right, that one is your work, that one is (also) your work.’ And he’d say, ‘Yeah, but…you made the needles’, I was grinding pigments and mixing colors at that time, ‘you take care of everything else’…at the time I was doing all the appointments we would clean up together, the work kind of divided up by itself, it’s not like we made lists, but we both had things that we were better at. He was the one that learned to tattoo first, so he was the one that did it. We started getting a bit more work, and I did some too. But I never did the really big pieces. So my advice to tattoo wives is to be part of it, not have a separate life in the sense of OK, you have kids, so tattoo is what he does, and he has a shop and goes there, it becomes very a JOB, and that’s a shame. Then you have separate lives, and I’m a firm believer in a family, as much as possible, doing stuff together.”

I replied that I had always been a career woman, and working with my husband at our business had been a challenge for me, trying to find my place.

“Don’t misunderstand, when I say I believe in working together, once it wasn’t so, like in the beginning we were really broke, so when we got back to Switzerland, we worked really hard, like sixteen hour days, we would take anybody who came to the door, you know what I mean? Prices were way down, and yeah, sure sit down…we’d try not to let anyone walk out without getting tattooed. Once that got better, we got more of a, you know, reputation, more business, better prices, a bit more comfortable, Felix always encouraged me to go on for instance with my art, you know what I mean? And there was me, I was kind of copping out a bit, because it was easier just to do all of the work that I knew needed doing instead of, like, going off into another room to do art. I’m not saying don’t have something else you’re interested in, but if there is a way of working together or staying together I think that’s good as a couple and as a family, to do this thing together.”

I thought about their obviously loving relationship. “It sounds like you and Felix had something very special.”

“It seems special, just because a lot of people have a tendency not to do that anymore…but I think it used to be the way people did it, you know what I mean? The husband, the wife, the kids, everyone made a concerted effort for survival, way back when there was the grandparents as well, to look after the kids while the parents were doing the hard work. And that’s great, I think that is perfect.”

“So, I study and love wine and winemaking; I write about wines as well. Do you enjoy any wines or particular beverages?”

Sighing, “I don’t drink anymore now, and even if I have wine with dinner, I feel like crap. I just decided I can live without wine. No favorite, I guess red over white. Not a connoisseur, at all, even though the town I was born in-I was born in Italy-in a town called Asti, which is where the Asti Spumante sparkling wine comes from. But, I was six months old, so it doesn’t really count.”

I say it still counts. A wine connection is a wine connection, right? I’ll take it!

Shifting topics for a moment, “I am in love with my old english bulldog Madison Mae, and I hear you also have a little companion? Tell me about your dog, and her very unique name?”

“Ha! Lilu Multipass! The Fifth Element, that movie, I love the part where she says ‘Multipass! Multipass!’” Her face lights up even more. Why are tattoo folks almost always dog people? We all seem to have dogs that we treat as family.

“She’s a Tibetan Lhasa Apso and I’ve always wanted one. I said if I got a dog, it would be that. She’s great, she’s great with people, kids, just some dogs she does not like. Sometimes, it’s like I’m apologizing, she’s never hurt another dog, but even if it’s a big dog, she’ll grrrrrr….and then bark bark bark! I’m going like, sorry! Sorry! We’re in the mountains in Switzerland, so she is off of a leash mostly with me, where I walk her is mostly either forest or fields. She never strays; she’ll tear off and chase a fox or something, then come running back like, where is she? Did she leave? No, but she’s great. I obviously didn’t get her to replace Felix, but I got her initially for my health, because I realized I’m still smoking, and I’m too lazy to walk unless there is a visitor, but since I have her I’m out every day. Even in the winter, she’s so cute in the snow, pouf pouf pouf, snowballs stuck to the fur. What I like about this breed is while they are people dogs, they are alarm dogs, but she’s also independent in the house. It’s not like she has to be glued to me, she has her spots that she likes to do her siesta, I work over there, and then you think they’re asleep, and you walk past, and you just see the eye open, kind of following you, what is she doing…that’s been a big thing in my life the past three years. It gets me out there, I feel healthier.”

“Loretta, so why am I such a terrible client for my husband now? I used to sit for hours, now its, just….”

“No matter how different we are in our lives, we tattoo conventioneers have this one thing in common. You know what it’s like to get a needle stuck in you, and I know what it’s like!” Giggles. “And getting tattooed by artist husbands…it’s the worst!” More laughing and eye rolling, bonding through difficult tattoo sittings with our spouses. Real talk from Mama Leu!

She continued, “‘would you stop crying?’ It’s terrible to sit. I think it’s because they get nervous, they don’t want to fuck up, and then you get upset, and I can remember….this one (points to her throat tattoo) like, really hurt, and I’m like (whines) crying…he’s I can’t work if you’re crying…I’m going to stop NOW…and I’m like (whining) no, no finish it…ugh, terrible (laughing).”

“Of course I wish Felix was here as well, but that’s the way it went. I’m not unhappy with getting older in the sense of course I don’t like aches and pains, and the things that don’t work so good anymore, but I like the freedom-the mental freedom I feel now. It’s different.”

Different how?

She smiled and glanced to the side for a moment. “It’s not like anybody was holding me back, I was holding myself in this place. And now, I’m so totally free of, like, I can get up when I want, I can go to sleep when I want, if I decide to walk over there, I don’t have to report to anybody and let them know where I am, there is a lot of freedom in getting older. Maybe I’ll make a tee shirt that say’s There’s Freedom in Getting Older!” she said, laughing at the idea. “But there is! It’s not all bad, what’s coming down the road.”

I told her I was looking forward to sharing any and all adventures that Eddie and I have in our future, together. Easily one of the most inspiring and generous spirits I’ve been blessed to talk with and be inspired by. Thank you to Loretta for taking time out of your busy weekend to talk with me, and for sharing the knowledge and love so easily. I’ve been much more involved, and as the universe sees fit….we’re getting on the bus. “Viva la Vida,” she signed a sticker for our resident female tattooist Colby Pou. Viva la vida, Loretta! Thank you again for your insights, see you out there…

LiLu the beautiful Lhasa in Loretta's rose garden, at home in Switzerland

LiLu the beautiful Lhasa in Loretta’s rose garden, at home in Switzerland

Loretta at work in Montreal, 2013

Loretta at work in Montreal, 2013

www.leufamilyiron.com