Dan Martin

Tattoos or children

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So I was bummed out today as I had a client tell me she didn't like my tattoo I drew for her ( what ever... Comes with the job ) So rather than rush to get back to redrawing her tattoo, I decided to waste time on the Internet, watching interviews of tattooers and looking at there stuff.. when I started thinking. Most of my favorite tattooers are sans children, and more than a few are without a significant other. So my question is, especially regarding the amount of work tattooers put in, how much does having children affect your work? And I mean being an active, attentive parent, not a dead beat or divorced where your kid lives with your ex most of the time. As for me... it's hard. Lots of late nights drawing/painting when everyone is asleep but me and also lots of early mornings, getting up early to see them off to school. AND lots of time with them when I get home, until they're asleep again. Don't forget weekends too. Now i wouldn't trade it for anything, but sometimes i question if I'd be a better tattooer if I had more time to myself. Time to travel, do shows, guess spots, meet other tattooers, paint/ draw, etc... You get the point. Pretty shitty of me to even question this, I know, but anyway, what's the general consensus ?

I'd love to hear from other tattoo parents too and see how you do it all.

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I was only 19 when I started tattooing and 20 when my first child was born. He was practically raised in a tattoo shop.

I was very enthusiastic, ambitious and had the energy to give what seemed like my all- to both parenting and tattooing.

But I'd be fooling myself if I said that I haven't had to compromise in both areas.

I went on to have 5 more children so obviously I had to make sacrifices.

I wasn't able to travel as much, working guest spots or conventions- like many of my peers without kids. So, as a result haven't formed as many relationships among other tattooers.

Do I regret the choices I've made? No. But I recognize that there have been consequences to my choices that have affected me personally and professionally.

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I would have to agree with Deb ,I had 2 kids when I started and it did limit the amount I could travel and spend time with my peers , thus limiting exposure and growth.

My shop was always close to the house so my kids could come and see me and I could help with homework and such but they sure didn't like the fact that I worked every week-end

Now that they are grown and gone , I get to make up for all that and now have all the time I need to push myself to betterment

At the end of the day though , I love my kids dearly and my son has his own shop and they both make me very proud

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I am not going to say that having a kid stopped me from tattooing because that was my choice, but basically after spending years hanging around the shop making friends getting tattooed and trying to be helpful, I put the notion out there that I wanted to work there and learn to tattoo. One Month later, I found out Rollo was on the way. I worked six days a week at the shop in addition to my other job making needles, scrubbing tubes redrawing flash and talking to every customer that walked through the door and most importantly learning some of the history of tattooing and the rules that exist. It was a great nine months, and I would do again in a heartbeat, but I knew I had to make a choice and I knew i couldn't do this full time for the next five years or so making little to no money. So I still work at the shop on Fri and Sat (the days that are busy enough for a counter person) and while that door is not completely closed I can't see it opening back up any time soon.

I have been tattooed by plenty of people that have kids, but looking at the tattooers I know in Portland not that many have kids. Granted a lot of them are still in their 20's but still I never really thought about it till this thread.

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I have 2 kids, and I am sure that I am not as good as I could have been if I were not a parent, but I don't care I wouldn't trade them for anything. I understand that there are people that can and do have all the time in the world to dedicate to their art, but that would be a sad and hallow existence for ME. My kids are my life, tattooing is my job, as much as I love doing it.

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I'm not a tattooer, but as a parent, I've thought about this very subject many times. I work a (mostly) 9 to 5 job, and even with those hours, I get home some days and am almost too tired to spend quality time with my daughter. Any working parent has to make sacrifices, but I know that tattooers put in much longer hours at the shop, to say nothing of the time they spend researching and drawing at home.

And now, if you'll humor me, I have a silly question that's been on my mind a lot lately, and this seems to be the best place to ask it. For your tattooers with kids: when you sit down and color with your kids, do you fill in the shapes with back and forth lines, or lots of tiny circles?

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I'm not a tattooer, just a tattooer's wife, but I know my husband makes lots of sacrifices regarding creating art and traveling and building cars and riding motorcycles and doing all kinds of things that he used to do. He is lucky, however, in that he'd been tattooing for at least 15 years before we had kids. But yeah, tattooing as a job can be hard on family life. For the past few months, Scott was painting his ass off for an art show, which meant that he was up 'til really late every night, which meant that I couldn't leave the house at 6:00 am to go practice yoga, which is part of what keeps me sane(ish.) And then on a bunch of nights when he'd normally be home, he was at his warehouse working on a lamp that he was super excited about, so the impending art show really hijacked my life. I solo parent a lot due to the hours that tattooing requires, but this was much more than usual, so I skipped a lot of the normal stuff I'd be doing. There's always sacrifice in parenting, unless you're a really shitty parent.

Kids do make painting and tattooing harder. Our kids steal all Scott's pencils and good pens, he can never find an eraser, they play with his watercolors and mess up all his brushes and keep asking him to draw stuff for them or make paper airplanes or just insist on sitting on his lap while he's trying to draw for work. Right now Scott's in the middle of a 2 week Sweden trip. Guess what? I'm exhausted. Tattooing makes parenting harder, especially for the one occasionally or frequently parenting alone. But you know what? Every time I talk to Scott, all he talks about is how much he misses the kids. He says, "I mean, of course I miss you, too, but it's different with them." And I totally get it.

To quote Freddy Corbin, "Kids make everything harder. And they make everything wonderful."

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he was at his warehouse working on a lamp that he was super excited about

Sorry to go off topic here, but I saw a picture of this lamp on Tim Hendricks blog, and it was truly stunning!!

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Sorry to go off topic here, but I saw a picture of this lamp on Tim Hendricks blog, and it was truly stunning!!

I agree! It was worth it. If all the stuff doesn't sell in the gallery, we will eventually put it on here.

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i think kids can be a huge motivation too, i mean i know plenty of really talented artists that are lazy, unmotivated and have no children. theres a solution to any equation as long as you are willing to look for it. knowing balance and structure within ones own set of variables is something that is a part of anyone who is successful. most of what people perceive can be converted from a negative to a positive

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having a kid definitely makes things a little more stressful, as in you want to always do better than what you are. when it was just me i could scrape by on slow weeks, but you always got that kiddo looking up to you and the drive is not to be a shit bag... fortunately time management makes playing with my kiddo and doing fun stuff possible when i, for example, come into work when i drop my toddler off for school (noonish) but dont take appointments til closer to two. biggest drive in tattooing...having kids.

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I am almost 35. I started tattooing when I was 19. I have conscientiously put off having kids because I know that it will affect my career, and I am not willing to compromise that. The effect of being so career focused, however, is that now I'm almost 35 and everyone I know has a family except for myself. That biological clock is for real, and the topic is at the front of my brain on a daily basis now, but I cannot seem to make a decision!

I know I'm probably wrong about this, but for me it feels like a tattoo-or-family, all or nothing scenario. I'm sure it's a little different than with the dudes, because motherhood is a little more all-encompassing for a woman with pregnancy, nursing, blah blah blah..... It's terrifying.

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Sorry to go off topic here, but I saw a picture of this lamp on Tim Hendricks blog, and it was truly stunning!!

Dude you should've seen the one he made a couple years ago. Shotgun lamp was awesome!

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I was 20 when I had my first and he was an only for almost 12 years.

With only the one I was able to "almost" totally immerse myself in to tattooing ,and he came along for the ride.

I was 42 when my last one was born.

My husband and I both tattoo and we have our own shop just a few blocks from our house. But even though we both have the freedom and the ability to adapt our schedules to accommodate our family- it usually falls upon me to get the children to medical appointments, sports, parent teacher meetings etc.

I sometimes resent it--- because my argument with my husband -at least, is that I love tattooing just as much as he does!

It's no less part of my life than his.

So as I said earlier I have compromised--- I probably would have been a better tattooer had I not had my children.

I am different from most mothers though, in that I love what I do, aside from parenting. I love tattooing and it came before all of my children were born. So I don't necessarily live vicariously through my children

I have to also distinctly separate the aspects of tattooing that I enjoy.

I am passionate about and love creating , learning about and looking at tattoos & I get some satisfaction out of the social aspect of my job---------

I have to keep foremost in my mind though that my children's NEEDS take priority over

my customer's wants.

And lastly I have to add that even the greatest satisfaction I receive from tattooing pales in comparison to the joy I've experienced as a mother.

Hope I'm making sense.

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