"Do you have any tattoos?"
Just 20 years ago, the wrong answer to this question could've abruptly ended a job interview. But now, with an estimated 14 percent of the adult U.S. population sporting tattoos, the question is not only innocuous, but a handy conversation starter (and occasionally an effective pickup line). Give someone a glimpse of your tattoo in a social situation, and before you know it everyone around you is lifting shirt sleeves, pulling down waistbands and removing shoes to show off their latest pieces of ink.
Tattooing has changed over the millennia and continues to evolve today, even as current trends include a resurgence of the ancient Japanese-style black bodyscapes as well as all-American, Sailor Jerry-esque retro styles. The vast number of shops dedicated to the art of tattooing – roughly 70 in Minnesota and counting – has raised the bar for skilled artists and consequently pushed hacks out of the business, propelling purveyors of skin art to strive for being the best in the business.
Here, meet five local tattoo artists and tattoo-shop proprietors, all of whom are dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the art of tattooing in the Twin Cities.
Artist/proprietor of Electric Dragonland (923 Mainstreet, Hopkins electricdragonland.com)
Year established: 1990.
Electric Dragonland is the quintessential rock 'n' roll tattoo shop. Brilliant custom drawings cover every inch of wall space, and heavy metal assaults you from all sides -- yet the studio feels intimate, courtesy of each resident artist's individual, closed-door workspace. For four years, Anderson was president of the Alliance of Professional Tattooists, an organization dedicated to safe and legal tattooing practices. Electric Dragonland has received more than 300 awards of recognition, while Anderson alone has received more than 200 accolades for his artistic ability, as well as his dedication to preserving the art of tattooing.
Age when you gave your first tattoo: 19.
Specialty/favorite type of tattoo: All areas of art -- I try not to get pigeonholed, because the more studied you are, the more accessible you are as a tattoo artist. I do really like doing portraits, bio-mechanical art and sleeves.
Tattoos you don't do: Hate/racial tattoos, Satanic tattoos, first tattoos on the hands, face or neck. If you still want the hand, face or neck tattoo in a year, then come see me and we'll talk about it.
Funniest/weirdest tattoo you've given: The cartoon character Underdog doing Polly Purebred.
Who tattoos you: Marcus Pacheco [Calif.], Julie Moon [Mass.], Cory Kruger [Mass.], Scott Sterling [Va.], Sailor Moses [R.I.P.].