Today I went in for a consultation with Zulu Tattoo artist, Lantz, which is in West Hollywood. We are putting our heads together to design a full sleeve of ink for me which will be started in September. I am really excited about working with him. He does some really incredible work, and the shop functions like a friendly, well-oiled machine. I am so happy I’m getting a tattoo from him, in that shop. Truly.
NowI have to purge some grievances about a previous experience I had at the ever popular, High Voltage Tattoo, better known as Kat Von D’s shop in the show called LA Ink. What a colossal disappointment that was.
For months I had been emailing the shop, Kat Von D, and one of the artists – Kim – who is also on the show, about her designing and getting started on a full arm for me, but never heard back from any of them over the course of 6 months or more. Because their site says that walk-ins are welcome, and because my boyfriend’s sister was here from St Paul and wanting to get a tattoo there, we decided to drive over to the shop during their hours of operation, which are from 9 PM -12 AM. Seriously.
When we get there, the stars from the show are of course not working there. Instead there are a handful of artists that will do a first come/first serve tattoo for you, provided you are cool enough. We wait in a line at the receptionist, who is a 20-something chick with too much make up on. She makes no eye contact with us. She is very busy joking with the guy sitting next to her, who may or may not work there. If he does, he is certainly doing a whole lotta nothing.
I ask how I can get an appointment with Kim. Impossible. You must email her (as I was doing) and if she’s into it, she’ll respond. So I ask about the artists that are there and she tells me they are all booked up for tonight. There are no appointments. You just have to come at the beginning of their 3 hour shift each day and hope you get in for a tattoo. This girl cannot be bothered with further questions; she is busy talking with the just-sitting-there guy and 2 tattoo artists that are just kind of hovering around with nothing to do.
I begin looking through each artist’s portfolio and ask, “Which one is Dennis?” I like his portfolio. She pauses and looks to one of the hovering ones while answering me: “Dennis? Uhhmmmm…” and Dennis, who is standing right there (perhaps they were going to tell me he wasn’t there?) says he is Dennis. I ask if I can talk to him right then about a sleeve I want to do, and he says, “I guess so” and I pull out some print outs and sketches I had with me. When I tell him I’m a painter, he immediately says he doesn’t like to work with other artists because “two artists together butt heads.” Really? I did not know that. Sounds like he’s had some bad experiences. And I tell him that I’m looking for a tattoo artist who can just take my rough ideas and run with them. They have total freedom to create whatever they wanted from there. But he says he’s just not into the ideas I have and is not inspired. “It’s just not my thing,” he said. “I’m just being honest.” I tell him I’m glad he is being honest because I don’t want someone who’s not into the job and move onto getting Nikki (my Boyfriend’s sis) taken care of since she was only in town for a short while longer. She tells him about a couple thoughts she has about a phoenix on her foot, but isn’t clear on how it should look yet. He didn’t try to help her define anything, nor did he ask any questions other than where she was from. But she is not feeling welcome anyway, with him or at this shop, and so decides not to pursue it further.
We go back to the car, and I cry a little but don’t really know why. It’s fine that the guy didn’t like my art. Or that he’s got a problem working with another artist, or whatever stick he had up his ass. It’s fine that the shop receptionist is on a royal, too-cool-for-school power trip (chalk that up to being young in Hollywood), but the whole idea of having a good time and going out on a Friday night to get a tattoo was shot. It was just a big snobby turn off. I was embarrassed for my city that Nikki got to see the crap-stereotype of Hollywood hipsters to the Nth degree. It was just a fucked up night. Kat Von D must not mind her employees spewing attitude. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the laid-back vibe that is Kat Von D – her night shift is totally misrepresenting her, the show, LA (sort of), and tattoo artists alike. I mean, I’m not some total dork from
the Mormon Church, I’m an artist and ex-rock musician with a few tattoos on my arms and my neck, but I sure felt like a total loser in that fucked up shithole full of meanies that is High Voltage Tattoo. Gaaaaaad!
Kat Von D must not mind her employees spewing attitude. It certainly doesn’t bode well for the laid-back vibe that is Kat Von D – her night shift is totally misrepresenting her, the show, LA (sort of), and tattoo artists alike. I mean, I’m not some total dork from
But, if I didn’t have that experience, I would not have wound up at Zulu, where they have an actual procedure to service their clientele. What a novel fucking idea! Everyone there far out-cool the wannabe coolsville of LA Ink’s 2nd tier of goons. At Zulu Tattoo, they have a small band of amazing tattoo artists that want to work with you, not against you. Nikki got a bad-ass phoenix on her foot from Sameerah, and I’m on my way to having 6 months worth of work I know I’m going to be proud of from Lantz. I am so glad to be 40 where I know life is too short to deal with a bunch of pricks that so desperately need to be somebody and think they attain this state of being by treating others like they’re nobodies. I am also getting more for fewer greenbacks too.
Check out Lantz’s work at ZuluTattoo.com. He’s the nicest guy ever too. I especially love this Candy Land sleeve he’s created: