The art of ink

Oct 302002
Authors: Dustyn Connelley

As the needles penetrate deeper into your skin and ink is deposited – your body becomes a canvas where art is eternally placed. The intense pain is quickly transposed into an omnipotent feeling; a profound understanding that from this point, you can never go back…and you will never be the same.

If you are a tattoo addict or a virgin to ink, this city offers many options in tattoo parlors. One that particularly prides itself in its friendliness, cleanliness and professionalism is Tyme Tattoo. They ranked third in “The Best of CSU” for tattoo and body piercing studios.

Tyme Tattoo, located at 105 E. Laurel, is a full-service tattoo and piercing establishment owned and operated by “Little John” Littlefield. The shop opened in 1999 and credits 70 percent of its clientele to college students.

Little John first found his love of the art in 1977 and has been tattooing ever since. His experiences have gotten him thus far; in his long career he spent close to 20 years tattooing at the Harley rally’s at Sturgis, he has tattooed some of Hollywood’s elitist, has owned parlors all over the country and now owns three full-service tattoo and piercing establishments. Aside from the shop here in Fort Collins, there are two other Tyme Tattoo parlors, one in Lake Havasu, Ariz. and the other in Laramie, Wyo.

Walking into this particular parlor your senses can be nothing but alert, you are instantly greeted by all, comforted by the smell of cleanliness, put at ease with music in the background and intrigued by the hundreds of sketches on the walls.

Little John’s accomplices include artist/piercer Eric “Sketch” Backlund, artist/piercer “Kringe” Broadhead and customer service personnel Brandon James.

Sketch started on his own tattooing a few years ago, “It’s my life, even when I’m at home, I’m doing something…you put effort into it until they [the clients] are happy. I’m more concerned about the artwork than the money itself.”

Kringe has been tattooing for 20 years, “I love doing what I do, piercing, tattooing, airbrushing – anything with art. With the tattoo gun, you’re creating something on someone else…showing off what you can do…you’re only as good as your artwork.”

Brandon has been at Tyme Tattoo since the beginning of 2002 working in the Customer Care and Relations Department. He meets the needs of the customers and artists, as well as day-to-day operations of the shop.

Little John’s vast career has endured the evolution of the tattoo industry.

“During the 70’s it was the drunks, sailors and military men getting tattoos, a lot has changed [in] the last twelve years,” Little John said.

Those revealing their scarlet past with ink on their bodies have broken out of this stereotypical mold, where it now has entered into the realm of being anybody’s game.

“Tattoos are so open now, it used to be clich/ – bikers and people in trouble, now its bikers and lawyers,” Kringe said.

Little John agreed.

“Everybody’s into their art and likes it displayed on their bodies, it is something that they will have the rest of their lives,” he said. “The job as an artist is to try and help with what [the clients] interests will be 5 to 10 years down the road, what will still be important.”

If you are a virgin to ink, the most important thing is that you are choosing a design that means something to you, one that will always mean something to you. Beyond the artwork, it is extremely important that you choose a sterile and art-involved establishment, some are better than others, and make sure you choose an artist that you get along with on a personal basis, especially one that you trust.

After you have found a good establishment, go in on a consultation basis and talk to your artist about what it is that you have in mind. Get information, check for cleanliness, understand the process and be sure that you know what you are getting yourself into… this is your body – and the ink will be there forever.

Among the addicts are the artists at Tyme Tattoo; they have devoted their lives and bodies to the art and the profession. “Getting a tattoo is a passage, a remembrance, every tattoo has a story and a life,” Kringe said.

In recounting his memories of his own tattoos, in a cryptic way Little John explained that his tattoos are not only reflections of his experiences, but “when the undertakers are taking me to the fire, they’ll be able to figure out my life story.”

All artists would agree that there is a lot of pressure in the profession. The greatest pressure is striving for perfection; there are no second chances and what they create will forever remain a symbol of one’s life.

The intriguing part is that they are able to make a perpetual mark by giving their art immortality.

“We’re all vampires in a sense, we create something that is everlasting – a permanent mark…we take blood and pain, and give art and beauty,” Kringe said.

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