Westside Ink: The Sutton Tattoo Co. Shop Profile
As a heavily tattooed person, I have come to know over the years that it’s a lifestyle and it’s not for everyone. For every friend I have that has a tattoo, I have another who would never, ever considering one. It’s a personal choice, and for an extrovert like me, I love to show off my great work. I’ve been tattooed at most shops in the area, so I”m going through and profiling tri-state tattoo parlor’s to get the artist perspective and to also inform the potential client.
The Sutton Tattoo Co. at 4110 W Broadway is where I got married on Feb 2nd. They have 4 artists in house as well as a piercer. Here’s my Q & A with owner and artist Josh Sutton
1.When and where did you first begin tattooing?
I began tattooing in 1999, at a studio called Artistic Expressions, on Franklin Street. I was 20 years old.
2.Who are some of your main influences, then and now?
I was first influenced by tattoo magazines. I started looking at the names of the artists who did pieces I really liked. I eventually started kind-of following certain artist’s work, and have definitely been influenced by a lot of different people. I’d say my main influences are Guy Aitchison, Filip Leu, and Aaron Cain. I really like the biomech pieces that Guy has done, and he and his books have taught me a lot of different techniques. Filip Leu does some amazing oriental work. Full body suits like his are amazing. It’s a lot of dedication and time for both the artist and the customer. I follow artists that don’t tattoo as well. Alex Grey and Salvador Dali are both big influences. I like to draw inspiration from every day life, the people I surround myself with, and the environment I’ve created for myself.
3.You’ve worked in several shops for other people. What’s different about this time, with it being your own place?
It’s mine. There’s a lot more responsibility, and everything lands on my shoulders, but in the end, it’s awesome. I answer to myself. I love my job. I get paid to create art, I get to listen to awesome music, and I don’t have a dress code. What’s not to love about my job? I have amazing employees. I’ve worked before with everyone in my shop, so I knew we would be able to work together. There’s not the drama that I’ve dealt with in other shops. That’s one of the best parts about my shop.
4.What are some misconceptions about tattoos and the process of tattooing?
The main misconception is that tattooing is quick. Good artwork takes time, to compose, to apply, and to maintain. A large part of society thinks that people with tattoos are trash. I tattoo everybody from teachers, doctors and nurses, and deeply religious individuals. People from all walks of life get tattooed, not just the low-lifes and drug addicts. I’ve also had people tell me that tattooing isn’t a real job. To be a successful tattoo artist, you have to put in a lot of time and effort. You have to be professional, and you have to work your ass off to get ahead. Tattooing pays my bills, provides for my children, and let’s me enjoy life. I pay taxes. That’s a job. It’s just a job I enjoy.
5.How much do you enjoy designing art for someone as opposed to someone bringing you a pre made design or piece of flash?
I like both. I think in order to be a well-rounded artist, you have to be able to do and enjoy both. Flash pieces are building blocks to becoming a better artist. The more thought that goes into any piece of artwork, the better the end result. It’s really up to the customer: do you want to walk in and pick out a tattoo that other people have, or do you want something that means something to you?
6.What is a “scratcher” and what is your opinion on them?
A scratcher is a person who tattoos without any professional training and doesn’t know the health risks involved. They usually get their equipment off the internet, and think that as long as they can trace a line, they can tattoo. People shouldn’t tattoo unless properly trained. There are health risks. Getting tattooed on someone’s couch, or at a kitchen table, invites all sorts of diseases and infections into your life. Trying to save $50 by letting someone’s friend of a friend tattoo you in their garage doesn’t typically work out in the customer’s favor. I do a lot of cover-ups, and they’re generally work that people have gotten done by a scratcher.
7.What sets The Sutton Tattoo Company apart from other shops?
The fact that I own and work here. I give all of my clients the type of experience I would want if I got tattooed. All my employees do the same. We want to create an inviting atmosphere, and we want people to feel comfortable. We’ll be honest, we’ll give you fair pricing, we can work with people on a budget, and we’ll give you some fantastic artwork. All of our artists have their own style, and you’ll receive a good tattoo. We’re constantly updating our jewelry selection. We have t-shirts. We try and push the retail end of the business. But mostly we just want people to have a good experience.
8.How should people go about setting up an appointment?
Come in, talk to an artist. We have four different artists – myself, Samanatha Neaveill, Jarred Scott, and Danielle McDonough. We can’t really give quotes over the phone or the internet – we need to see you, and the piece of art that you want. If you don’t have a particular piece that you want, bring in multiple pieces with different parts that you like. We can always combine aspects of different art to create a custom piece for you. We try to get in walk-ins, when we can. If you want to get in as a walk in, you can always call, and we can tell you if our artists are booked up for the evening. Piercings don’t need an appointment. Lori & Ben are pretty good about getting people in when they walk in the door. It’s a good idea to call ahead (our number is 812-422-8456) and double check that a piercer is working, but you can generally just walk in and get a piercing done.
9.Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to give a shout-out to all of my employees. They do excellent quality work and they’re good people to work with. You can come to any artist in my shop and receive a quality service, experience, and artwork. I’ve worked with a lot of different artists in this town, and I appreciate the people I can surround myself with.
There’s the rundown, and here’s some shop info”