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Addicted to tattoos

By Staff | Nov 9, 2009

Co-owners Marie Eisele and Doug Guth flank artist Josh Guth.

Not long ago, most people associated tattoos with sailors, bikers and sideshow artists. But that is not the case today. Tattoos can be seen on practically any age group and gender.

Tattoos are a means of artistic expression and have become really popular in recent years. Now days, the people who get them are as diverse as the styles and designs they choose. As a result, Marie Eisele felt it was the right time to bring a tattooing and piercing business to Blue Earth.

“I had friends in the business in Fairmont,” says Eisele. “I took the advice of Ray Pittman who was the original owner of the ‘Topline Tattoo” shop in Fairmont and began looking for a location to open my own shop. When I saw this space, I knew it was the perfect place for a tattoo business.

Once she had the location, she says Pittman helped her in setting-up the business and in providing her with some of the supplies needed.

As a result, the newest business venture in Blue Earth, ‘Topline Tattoo,’ opened in August at 220 North Main Street, Suite A. Owned by Eisele and Doug Guth, the tattoo shop will be renamed ‘Blue River Skin Art’ after the first of the year.

Artist Josh Guth touches up a tattoo.

Josh Guth is one of the artists at ‘Topline Tattoo.’ He took his training at the only tattoo school in the U.S. Located in Shreveport, La., the school opened in 1968. It offers a two-week intensive course teaching the basics about the art as well as studying blood-borne pathogens. Guth earned seven certificates while at the school. These include: tribal tattooing; aseptic technique; cover-ups; dark skin tattooing; portraitures; and business and marketing skills. Wishing to earn more certification, Guth is currently compiling a portfolio of 30 full-page size tattoos he has completed and 30 drawings of ‘flash.’ Flash are tattoo designs artists generally display in their shops. From these ‘flash’ designs, the artist draws or stencils the image onto the person’s skin.

Another course Guth hopes to take in the future is ‘permanent make-up.’ This takes a lot of skill, says Guth. Its purpose is to give a person the lipstick look, enhance the eyebrows and also can serve as permanent eyeliner. Some people who would never think of tattooing a picture or symbols on their bodies, like this form of permanent make-up – a type of tattoo – to emphasize their eyes and lips.

“You basically need to be artistic to become a tattoo artist,” says Guth. He adds one should also be able to trace, do blending and shading of colors and have a steady hand.

After completing the tattoo course, Guth says one is left with enough equipment and supplies to earn back their tuition costs.

Basics all artists and tattoo shops need are a power supply, tattoo machine, inks, tubes and needles, gloves, cleaning supplies and after-care supplies. They also need sterilizing equipment and disposable sterilized needles and tubes. Tubes and needles are never reused. Much of the application process focuses on safety. Tattoo artists use sterilization and disposable materials to protect themselves as well as their clients.

Since a tattoo machine creates a puncture wound every time it injects a drop of ink into the skin, there are risks for disease transmission or allergic reactions.

Some of the allergy risks Eisele and Guth are aware of in their business include allergic reactions to the ink, primarily the red, as well as latex and after-care products.

“If a person has been on antibiotics,” says Eisele, “they are more prone to infection. Anyone wanting a tattoo should wait at least a week after going off an antibiotic before they get a tattoo.

The staff at ‘Topline Tattoo’ says there are definitely popular designs and themes in the business. Memorials with names of loved ones are probably the most popular. They also see a lot of requests for roses in the designs, the Harley Davidson logo and dragons. Armbands are also a big item.

“The most challenging thing for a tattoo artist is to create a design by just listening to a person describe it,” says Guth. “They have the concept in their mind, but can’t explain it clearly enough for us. This is when I ask them if they can try to draw it.

If a person has a tattoo and is dissatisfied with it and wants it removed, this can be done through a series of three laser treatments or by using a wrecking balm. This must be done in a three-step process daily with lotion. Both treatments are costly and will not eliminate the design entirely. The laser method will leave a scar in the shape of the design. As for the wrecking balm, an acid wash scar will remain on the skin.

Guth says one must understand a tattoo is basically a scar with a colored pigment in it.

The removal process for piercing is much easier and generally results in less scarring than a tattoo.

Colors used in body art are as varied as the designs, but red, yellow and white fade the most quickly and might require a touch-up at a later date.

The staff at ‘Topline Tattoo’ say tattoos can hurt depending upon a person’s pain tolerance and the location on the body where they want the design. The most sensitive spots for tattoos are the rib area, foot, collarbone, spine and wrist. But the most difficult spot to tattoo are the fingers.

Even though a new tattoo is pretty much healed in two weeks, the staff at the Blue Earth business says it generally takes about six to eight weeks for a new layer of skin to grow over the tattoo wound to be totally healed. This is why the after-care is so important after a person has a tattoo.

To ensure the client’s safety, ‘Topline Tattoo’ says they cannot and will not tattoo anyone under the age of 16. Persons age 16 and 17 must have parental consent before tattoos will be applied. As for earlobe piercing, they say they can do this at any age with a parent’s consent. However, a person must be at least age 13, with parental consent, before body piercing will be done.

“A lot of our customer base is between the ages of 18 and 22,” say the Guths and Eisele. But they agree tattooing is becoming more appealing to more age groups.

Recent research finds 23 percent of college students have one to three tattoos, 51 percent have other piercings beyond the standard women’s earlobe piercings, and 36 percent of 18-29 year-olds have tattoos. Just as dress codes are easing up, body art is coming out of hiding too. Indeed, this seems to be the right time for the new business to open its doors.

In addition to artist Josh Guth, his father and co-owner of ‘Topline Tattoo,’ Doug Guth, is an apprentice artist. Also on staff are Dan Stallkamp who does piercing on Wednesdays and Justin Mullivihill, artist and piercer.

Business hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. However, the staff is willing to adjust their business hours to accommodate clients. Although they prefer appointments, walk-ins are welcome, too.

Besides the tattoo and piercing services, the business also sells hemp and beaded necklaces, as well as henna tattoos, which are temporary and last only about one week.

As Josh Guth and Marie Eisele say, “tattoos are addicting. You can’t stop with just one.