Gina A., Hairdresser & Professional Make-up Artist, 24 Years (Chula Vista, CA)


I can remember the first time I saw Gina A. I was in her salon getting my nails done and I couldn’t help but spot her across the room…she’s stunning and so very unique. She does not blend in! I knew she was the perfect person to cut my two kids’ hair…wouldn’t you love to have a hair stylist who looked like this when you were a kid??? It wasn’t much longer before she was cutting my hair too…and, I now consider her a friend. She is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside…

WHAT IS THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES TO MIND WHEN I SAY THE WORD ‘TATTOO’?

Art

WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST TATTOO?

When I was 21.

WHICH ONE WAS IT?

It was the music staff notes on my wrists.


WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GET IT?

I’ve always liked tattoos and art…the whole artsy side of tattoos. I never liked superficial tattoos. I’ve always appreciated tattoos for their meaning and their art, so I took my time to choose exactly what I wanted done. I decided since I was a musician – and on the piano you play the bass clef with your left hand and the treble clef with your right hand – that it would be a cool thing to put on my wrists.

WHO DID IT?

They call him Sky…Christopher Skylar. At the time he was working for, I think it was, ‘Above All Tattoo’, but I’ve known him since I was in high school. I trusted him.

AND, YOUR SECOND TATTOO?

My second tattoo was my husband’s name. And, I know that sounds kind of superficial, but I just wanted to really prove to him that I was forever. I know for some people a tattoo might not signify that, but for me it really did because when I give myself to someone, I give myself 100%, so I felt like doing that for him would really show him that I was 100%.


WHERE IS IT AND HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO PUT IT THERE?

It’s on the right side of my lower back. It’s kind of funny, but it’s more of a sexual kinda thing.

WHO DID THAT TATTOO…THE SAME GUY?

No…I’m kind of a ‘tattoo whore’…I’ve been around. His name was Andrew and he’s the owner of ‘Sinister Ink’. They call it ‘Sinister Ink’ because he specializes in sinister kind of work. He likes to do almost evil looking stuff. You can even tell by his writing style…it’s kind of evil looking. I was referred to him so I felt confident in him.

YOUR THIRD TATTOO…

My third tattoo was my arm.


HOW DID YOU PICK THE DESIGN OF THIS ONE?

It was a cultural thing for me…Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is part of the Hispanic heritage. It’s kind of like their version of Halloween, but they basically will remember the dead. The day is November 2 and they go to the grave site and they cook their family member’s favorite food, they picnic on the grave site, they light candles, they make sugar skulls, which is what the picture is on my arm. And, it’s all to honor your relatives that have passed.

DID YOU HAVE ANYBODY SPECIFIC IN MIND OR WAS IT JUST A GENERAL CULTURAL THING?

It was just a general cultural thing. The two roses on my arm represent my mom and dad, even though they’re not passed. Just as an honor for them.

AND, THERE’S MUSIC INVOLVED IN THAT DESIGN, TOO…

Yes. I hope to incorporate music in all of the rest of my future tattoos, because music is definitely a part of me. I’m not going to get a tattoo of something that is not a part of me, so music will be incorporated with everything I try and do.


WHO DID THIS ONE?

I chose Leo (he owns ‘767 Tattoo’ in Chula Vista) because he did a few of my brother-in-law’s tattoos. I wasn’t necessarily happy right away with it, just because I had to go back a few times and have him correct a few things. But, someone explained to me the reason why I might not have been happy right away is because he has kind of a heavier hand. The reason why the tattoos looked good on my brother-in-law was because he’s got thicker skin and, you know, it’s easier to take that heavy hand. But, on a female with delicate skin, it comes out a little more thick and kind of sloppy. My tattoo’s not sloppy but, there were a few people who noticed mistakes. I’m happy with it now and I think it looks awesome and I get a lot of compliments on it. I just don’t think I would go back to him again. He’s good for males, but I think for female artwork, I wouldn’t recommend him.

IS THERE ANY CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE TO TATTOOING FOR YOU?

Not for me in particular.

OUT OF ALL YOUR TATTOOS, WHICH ONE IS THE MOST MEANINGFUL TO YOU AND WHY?

I think they all have a big significance to me and I think that’s how it should be. I think all your tattoos should really mean something to you. If you got a tattoo because “Oh, I think it’s cute”…that’s not how I wanted it. I think that’s the wrong reason to get a tattoo. They all mean something to me, whether it’s about love or honoring someone or putting something that is a part of you. It all means something.


HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED GETTING ANY OF THEM?

I started to regret the one on my arm when people would criticize the mistakes that he had made, but once I got the mistakes corrected, I felt 100% confident with it.

YOU WENT BACK TO HIM TO CORRECT IT?

Yeah, most tattoo artists won’t go over someone else’s work. If you go to someone and ask them to finish a tattoo for you, 95% of the time, they’ll be like “I’m not going to finish that.”


DO YOU PLAN ON GETTING ANY MORE TATTOOS?

I do plan on adding to [my arm tattoo]…I want to do a quarter sleeve past my elbow and I’ll probably go back to Sky for that because he has been, by far, my favorite. I don’t know…there might be more down the line somewhere. I take my time thinking about exactly what I want.

DO YOU HAVE AN IDEA ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT THIS NEXT ONE TO BE?

No, I kind of want Sky to design it because I trust his opinion as a professional, so I want him to draw something with me.

[Off tape, Gina also mentioned wanting one on her neck…IF her husband approves.]

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1. Janet D., Homemaker, 42 Years (San Diego, California)

Photo taken by Luis Vargas

This is me, the blogger! I figured it was best for me to go first so I could show everyone else what they were getting themselves into…

WHAT IS THE FIRST WORD THAT COMES TO MIND WHEN I SAY ‘TATTOO’?

Freedom

WHEN DID YOU GET YOUR FIRST TATTOO? HOW OLD WERE YOU?

December 6, 2009 (42 yrs old)

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO GET A TATTOO?

I first experienced what it felt like to have a tattoo about six years ago when I had a henna design applied around my belly button. I absolutely loved when the henna was still on my skin making the design stand out boldly…I remember being so disappointed when it flaked off the next day and when it completely faded away over the next two weeks. That was the first time I thought about getting a permanent tattoo, but I wasn’t quite there.

In 2009, I went through a significant life shift…pretty much a total change in mindset. I realized that for the past 30+ years, I had been forcing myself into a box that I didn’t fit into and I busted out. For the first time in my life, everything felt authentic and I finally achieved that elusive state – happiness – I had been searching for in all the wrong places. In September 2009, after a solo trip to Kauai, I knew it was time…I was fully ready to have an outward expression of my inner change and completely separate myself from the world I was leaving.

IS TATTOOING PART OF YOUR CULTURAL HERITAGE?

Not really….there is definitely no tattooing no matter how far back you search through my very Caucasian family tree. But, there was a day I looked down at my completed tattoo and had an overwhelming feeling that it was always supposed to be there. Must be a past life thing…I can’t shake the feeling that there’s some tribal in my soul.

HOW DID YOU PICK THE DESIGN?

If I was going to have something permanently inked on my body, it had to have deep meaning to me. While in Kauai, I had an incredible moment swimming with sea turtles and almost considered getting a turtle, but it didn’t feel completely right. Then, I remembered my henna tattoo and I knew that’s what I wanted…it was connected to belly dancing, which was the first “out-of-the-box” activity that started me on the path toward my recent life shift.

Photo taken by Luis Vargas

HOW DID YOU DECIDE WHERE YOU WERE GOING TO PUT YOUR TATTOO?

I knew for sure that I wanted to see it, so the lower back was out. I debated between my foot, ankle or hip. The vision of me being in a classy black dress and sexy black heels was a bit marred by a tattoo on my foot or ankle, so the hip it was. I’d originally planned to have it on the smaller side so that it would be hidden in a bathing suit, but my artist had other plans. When I looked down at what he had drawn – about five times larger than I had planned and following the curves from just below my naval, around my hip, around my back to the top of my buttocks – I fell in love.

WHO DID IT?

Luis Vargas from Northridge, California

HOW DID YOU FIND HIM & HOW DID YOU KNOW HE WAS THE RIGHT ONE?

It seemed like I looked at the online galleries of every tattoo artist in San Diego and I was seriously concerned. No one had a picture of anything even remotely resembling henna and I was not about to be a test case. While I was contemplating going to an artist in Belgium, I saw an ad in the newspaper for Tattoopalooza on Halloween. I talked my husband and teenage son into going with me. After walking down several aisles and seeing more of what I had seen online, I was about to give up. I turned down the next aisle, heading for the exit, when something made me walk over to the nearest table. I started flipping through the artist’s binder and gasped when I saw a photograph of a beautiful woman, close in age to me, with the most artistic tattoo I had ever seen. My husband and son gave me the thumbs up. Luis quietly approached me and offered me his card. A few days later, I visited his website and knew without a doubt that he was the one…a spiritual and independent artist with nearly two decades of experience.

HAVE YOU EVER REGRETTED GETTING YOUR TATTOO?

Not yet…and I can tell by the way I feel about it now that I won’t. Everybody thinks they are so original when they say… “But, won’t you regret it when you’re 70???” My response…when I’m 70, everything will be sagging and I will always see my beautiful tattoo as a symbol of that special time in my life when I achieved deep happiness & fulfillment.

DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO GET MORE?

No…but, I’ve learned never to say never.