Alex: Hello everyone and welcome to Reporter Podcast! I’m your host Alex Meddin, and today to talk about our article “Really Makes You Ink” I’m joined by Justin Frohlich …
Justin: Hi, I’m a graphic designer for Reporter and the tattoo designer.
Alex: Great! As well as Kevin Zampieron.
Kevin: I’m the leisure editor. I wrote this article and I got a tattoo.
Alex: Nice. So earlier we were talking … you came up with the title “Really Makes You Ink.”
Kevin: Yup. That was um, I was really struggling with the title and I was just like, “That’s a funny pun.” And then I made that the title. And that’s how all titles happen. Behind the scenes for the journalism world.
Alex: I dig the pun. So can you just briefly describe for our listeners what the article’s about?
Kevin: Um, so tattoo culture is very specific and very interesting and starting to become more mainstream, and it’s something that people are aware of and they see, maybe they’ll walk by and they’ll see a tattoo parlor or maybe they’ll see someone has a tattoo or something like that, but they don’t really know the intricacies of the culture. So I thought I would kind of go into that and at the same time make this an article for anyone who’s like interested in getting a tattoo and I figured, hey, what better ways to learn about tattoos than going about the process of actually getting one?
Alex: That’s a great idea. So I’m curious, because you were you know, learning about the process of getting a tattoo, how do you feel after getting a tattoo? Feeling different?
Kevin: Well, it hurts, but I don’t feel any different. It’s still my skin, and that’s one thing that’s kind of important about, you know, tattooing and understanding that is that it’s a part of your body still, even though it looks different, it’s just your skin. It’s going to grow with you, it’s part of your body, no one else can touch it but you if they don’t want to. Really, you don’t have to explain it to anyone else but yourself because it is your body.
Alex: I like that attitude but unfortunately I feel like not everyone feels that way, because there is like a really big stigma around tattoos to this day.
Kevin: I think it’s less, you know. I mean, of course there’s always the shock when you bring it home to mom and dad — hi mom and dad! I didn’t tell you I got this until later —
Alex: You didn’t tell them before? Ooh.
Kevin: Sorry, guys.
Alex: They’re finding out on this podcast.
Kevin: They’re gonna find out at some point. But yeah, it’s a much less stigma. You’re not gonna get like, turned down unless you have a really exposed tattoo. In this article, actually, I spoke to a lab technologist or medical technologist, and she had very visible tattoos and she still got hired. And that’s like a white collar job, not like a barista or artist or anything like that. And then when she got hired, she was like “I’m gonna get a throat tattoo.” So she got a throat tattoo. And it looks cool, and she still has a job and she can still do her job, and it doesn’t really affect her performance and like, nobody’s gonna assume you’re like a criminal or something just because you have a tattoo.
Alex: So like, the stigma’s lessening but it’s still maybe not so professional right? In your opinion — in both your opinions, do you think tattoos are professional and do you think that the professional world agrees?
Justin: I think tattoos are professional. I think it depends on like what you’re trying to accomplish, what career you have. If you’re saying, white collar job then you can’t really have stuff on your hands and stuff but when you’re in a creative field and you’re sort of … it’s not affecting your performance at all or your ability to actually get the job done, I feel like there wouldn’t be a problem with it.
Kevin: Yeah and I … when one third of our generation has tattoos, you can’t just say I’m not gonna hire you if you have a tattoo. You’re missing out on one third of the job market. And like, especially in this weird post-economy, you can’t turn down good talent. Even if they have a picture of like a dog on their arm. That shouldn’t come into the equation of whether you hire someone or not.
Alex: Do you see maybe 30, 40 years down the road, everyone’s got a tattoo and it’s just kinda normal?
Kevin: I don’t see any kind of future with like president neck tattoo but like, I mean, yeah. It’s just gonna happen.
Alex: Alright. So real quick, I want you to describe for your audience what your tattoo is.
Kevin: It’s a skeleton of a plesiosaur. A plesiosaur is an extinct marine reptile. Not a dinosaur. There’s a difference. Not a dinosaur. And I have it on my upper left arm going from a little bit above my elbow to my shoulder.
Alex: Alright, so where did you get it done? If you wanna plug real quick.
Kevin: I got it at Steadfast Tattoo. And very easy process, highly recommend them.
Alex: Cool, so, that’s here in Rochester?
Kevin: That is here in Rochester. It’s by Dogtown.
Alex: So I’m curious, you’ve talked a lot about tattoo culture in general in the article, but I wonder if you know anything about Rochester tattoo culture. Or even RIT specifically.
Kevin: I don’t know about RIT specifically. ‘Cuz there aren’t really any tattoo parlours on campus, unfortunately. But every year we have a big tattoo convention and I forget who it’s sponsored by, but all the artists come to Rochester, and that’s when a lot of people get tattoos. There’s a big collection of travelling artists and they’ll go up and they’ll get flash tattoos. They’ll pay like 60, 200 bucks or something and they’ll get something premade on them. Just because the fact that it’s made by these really cool artists. Um, and then in town there’s a bunch of great parlors. There’s like White Tiger, there’s Steadfast, there’s Kamikaze. So really yeah, I think there’s a pretty solid tattoo culture here.
Alex: Neat. Justin, you designed this tattoo right?
Alex: So first I wanna ask you, do you have like dreams of being a tattoo artist one day?
Justin: Well I did for a little bit. I thought tattoos were the coolest thing, and I watched this show on Spike, it’s called “Ink master.” It’s about tattoo artists and how they are sort of going through the history of a bunch of tattoos and well … it’s a … I don’t wanna say reality show but it’s like a competition show where like, who can be like the inkmaster and where they can do every sort of style on any sort of skin, and any sort of condition. And I just thought it’s like, the coolest show and it’s not like your typical you know, “Big Brother” or whatever. It’s a show about art and art on skin and it’s like, so cool and looking into you know, Kevin’s tattoo I was looking at some of the black line illustration tattoos that were actually on the show and that’s how I sort of … that’s where I pulled most of my inspiration from and sort of how my style as an artist has developed through seeing all these different artists from different cities and different parts of the world. Doing all these different tattoos in six hours once or twice a week and I just thought it was like, so cool. So yeah.
Alex: Yeah that sounds pretty awesome. So what goes into designing a tattoo?
Justin: Well, this is the first tattoo that I’ve ever really designed. So while I was designing Kevin’s, uh, I was just sort of researching tattoo artists who I knew did black line illustration tattoos and the ones who were on the show. And I was just sort of looking at their style and how they go about it. Like what goes into the preparation. What do they look at? Do they look at real bones and skeletons or do they pull off of pictures? And off of like, more illustration type of things? So I was kinda going back and forth with that. Blackline illustration is very … it’s like an outline but there’s no color and it’s kind of like cross-hatching where you see mostly all the shadows and it’s kind of just black and white, I guess. And that’s sort of the style that I’m very interested in now and what I kind of wanted to do with Kevin’s tattoo. ‘Cuz I saw he had another tattoo like that, it was more … like bulky I guess? And I just thought that was really cool and wanted to do something like that but not copy it exactly. So, that’s how I kinda came up with that.
Kevin: For viewers at home, my other tattoo is a dodo bird.
Alex: Do you have like an animal theme going on?
Kevin: Extinct animals.
Alex: Oh okay cool! So what’s next?
Kevin: I don’t know. Maybe like a tasmanian tiger, those are pretty cool.
Alex: Ooh, let me know when you get it. So one thing you mentioned in your article was that, just at the end you talk about how for some women, getting a tattoo can be a benefit for their mental health and I’m sure that’s true for other people too. Is there any thoughts on why that might be true?
Kevin: I mean, I’m not a psychologist, I can’t really speak to the actual science of this. And of course this was just one study, so you can’t say anything definitively. But I think that getting a tattoo can be an act of self-reclamation. So if you experienced trauma in the past, and especially if you’re a woman, it feels like your body isn’t your own, like it’s been taken by someone else, and you have associations with it that aren’t entirely centered on yourself. So by like, coming up with your own art and making this decision as to what your body’s gonna look like, it can help allay those kinds of feelings. And I think most people who get tattoos wanna get a tattoo for the sake of getting a tattoo but I don’t think that’s as shallow as people would think. I think there is some sort of like, mental process when getting a tattoo. I think it changes you on the inside and out. Because there’s a ritual to it. And it’s happened for thousands of years and had a million different connotations and a million different cultures. So I think it’s something that’s like, on some level, more important than just like here’s a picture of my skin.
Alex: So you’re talking about different reasons for getting a tattoo and a lot of people get a tattoo to get a tattoo. Is that maybe a reason why people that aren’t into tattoos kinda … is that something maybe they detract? Like there’s no value to it sorta thing?
Kevin: I talked to someone in the article who got a tattoo … the first tattoo she got, was cuz she was really into a band when she was 18. And she doesn’t regret it, but it’s not her favorite tattoo. But then the rest of the tattoos she got, she got because they’re aesthetically pleasing and those are her favorite tattoos. So I think that there are two different kinds of people. People that need a meaning for tattoos and people that see their tattoo as more like getting a tattoo for getting a tattoo. Like the value of having a tattoo.
Alex: Where do you fall?
Kevin: Um, I’m a little more to the just having one to have one. I think there can be a meaning. But I also think that meaning can be had in multiple different ways. Like, it’s meaningful because I got this for an article, you know. Not just because of what the picture itself represents. Honestly, I got a plesiosaur because I like plesiosaurs. I feel like that’s all the meaning I really need. But I feel like everyone that gets a tattoo, it’s their body, so it’s different reasons for every single person and that’s perfectly fine.
Alex: So Justin, you don’t have a tattoo?
Justin: No, I don’t.
Alex: I’m curious, do you see yourself getting one?
Justin: I do. I do see myself getting tattooed. Not full body or whatever, just not something that would be very large because I don’t really like needles much. But I see myself getting something down the road, eventually.
Alex: So do you see it being like a meaningful thing, or like “I want a tattoo?”
Justin: Just a little bit of both. Yeah, like I thought about getting tattoos a couple years ago and one of them to be meaningful. Yeah I wouldn’t really get a tattoo of just like, “Oh this is a cool little picture that I saw on the side of the street and I want that on my skin.”
Kevin: And when you get a tattoo, like I said, by having it and getting it a certain context it has some meaning. I’ll always know I got my dodo bird for my 20th birthday. I’ll know who was in the room, who was the artist. It’s like a very — because of the preparation involved and the pain you feel, you don’t forget the details around it. So it does kind of create a bit of a snapshot of where you are at that point in your life.
Alex: Do you feel like you’re part of a club now?
Kevin: Um, in a way maybe. I don’t, like, look at other people with tattoos and be like hey, what’s up? But I know that they know what it feels like, I guess. At the same time, different spots, having different tattoos is a different experience, different artist is a different experience. So, I can usually — if I see someone with a tattoo, I’ll usually ask them about it, like hey I have this, but it doesn’t really go beyond that. But I guess it is a pretty good conversation starter.
Alex: You have, you know, conceptions about people with tattoos. Did you guys feel like there’s positive and negative connotations that people see when they see someone with a tattoo?
Kevin: I mean, the negative connotation is that I’m scary. I feel like that gets cancelled out by the fact that it’s a dodo bird. I don’t know, whenever I talk to someone — the meanest people I’ve met in my life have had no tattoos. And that’s not saying that not having a tattoo makes you a mean person, but like I don’t think that they’re necessarily connected. But at the same side of the coin, some of my favorite people in the world have tattoos, they’re great.
Alex: Do you think it changes your opinion of someone? When you see they have a tattoo?
Kevin: I know that they aren’t like, I know that they’re not like a super uptight, conservative type. ‘Cuz they’re probably not gonna get a tattoo. On some level, we’re gonna connect on that level. Yeah, in a way, it’s like, you listen to this kind of music. It doesn’t necessarily imply something about your personality but it does mean on some level we have a connection in that sense.
Alex: Right, like you’re inherently artistic or maybe not just stuck up or something.
Kevin: Or at least you can appreciate art.
Justin: Yeah, I totally agree.
Alex: Okay Kevin, if our listeners want to see your tattoo, how can they do that?
Kevin: Well, um, there is a video component to this article as well as photographs in the article itself. We had Daniel Vasta come in and shoot a video of me actually getting the tattoo. Hopefully I don’t look that ridiculous. And this was done … he took it and it was sent to the video team, they edited it so it should be out when the article is out.
Alex: Are there tears?
Kevin: No tears.
Alex: Alright, well that’s all the time we have. So that’s gonna wrap up this episode of Reporter podcast. Be sure to follow us on social media to see this article when it hits stands or when it goes up online at reporter.rit.edu. You can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @reportermag as well as reportermag on Snapchat. And also, as always, I’m gonna ask you guys to call RINGS. If you don’t know what RINGS is, it’s an anonymous telephone line where you can call in or text and just share any thoughts you have, and if it’s good, we’ll publish it in the magazine. So the number for that is 585-672-4840. Thanks for listening.