Al from Rockstar Ink on Being a Tattoo Artist

“I love Al, he’s done most of my tattoos. He’s professional and my tattoos always come out great,” my aunt, Christie Steelman told me. She’s gotten 14 of her 15 done by Al from Rockstart Ink.

I got a chance to interview Al from Rockstar Ink. He told me he always watned to be a tattoo artist since he was young. It came natural to him since most of  the people in his family are artists of some kind. He loves being creative; his favorite tattoos are the ones that he gets to express his creativity, he told me.

When I asked what it takes to become a tattoo artist, Al told me that in New Jersey, you must apprentice for five thousand hours, which, if you do it full time, takes about 3 years.

“I could probably put golden arches out front and say over a million served,” Al told me when I asked how many tattoos he thinks he’s done. He does about six to ten tattoos a day six days a week and he’s been tattooing for 20 years.

The most interesting tattoo he’s worked on was a man who got a tattoo to spite his soon-to-be ex-wife as they were going through a divorce. His tattoo ended up wrapping around his whole body all the way down to his ankle. Al told me he really enjoyed working with the man and the story behind his tattoo.

He loves tattooing because he doesn’t do the same thing everyday. Even though it’s technically the same thing, no two people come in and get the same tattoo in one day. He also said that people always top the last funny or great story and that always keeps him interested.

“People think they can get a sleeve in three commercial breaks.” He told me that tattoo based reality shows are ruining the industry. He said this is his pet peeve along with people owning shops that don’t know anything about tattooing except “how to take half the money.”  Anyone thinks they can be a tattoo artist now, they feel like they can just buy equipment off Ebay and be a tattoo artist, he explained. He feels like this is really hurting the industry, but it’s also making the artists do know what they’re doing better. This brings the qualities of tattoos down and leaves out a lot of information that people should know, he feels.

If he wasn’t a tattoo artist, he told me he’d be a fighter. He enjoys fighting and MMA and he told me it helps him clear his mind.

When asked about the future of Rockstar, Al told me their future is bright. He told he he’s becoming more passionate about fixing the tattoo industry in the area. He wants to inform people in the community about tattooing and to show them that they shouldn’t just get it done in someone’s house or garage.

Want to check him out? They are now located at 175 White Horse Pike in Absecon, New Jersey. You can also call: (609)437-9554 or (609)442-1476, or check out their facebook for sales and deals!


Angela Tomarchio on Tattoos, Expression and Advice for First Timers

Yesterday, I got a chance to sit down with Angela Tomarchio, a veterinary student, about her seven tattoos. She describes how tattooing has defined her life. She explains how she uses it to express herself and about her first tat. She also gives advice to people who are looking to get their first tattoo.

Angela Tomarchio on Tattoos, Advice and Expression from Ally Hodgson on Vimeo.
Pictures were taken by Angela Tomarchio, Holly Gill or myself.

Tattoos in the Workplace

Tattoos are becoming more prevalent  on our campus. When young people go to get jobs, are their tattoos going to affect them?

A 2010 Pew Research Center report said that nearly 40 percent of young adults, (ages 18-29), have tattoos. The acceptance in the work place of tattoos depends on the career.

In an article on, Meredith Haberfield, an executive career coach said that it’s best to cover your tattoos during an interview and for the first couple weeks at a job until you can see how the place would react to tattoos.

Most offices do not accept visible tattoos, but Haberfield says you can often get away with them in the auto, military, construction, design, film, music, digital media, styling and athletic lines of work.

It is legal for a work place to require you to cover up tattoos, according to the November 2006 court case Robert V. Ward.

Tattoos considered are a part of the dress code, therefore it is not discrimination to ask you to cover them up, says an article at The website also says that you might not advance in your career if you have tattoos at all. A survey found that tattoos were the third biggest factor to make you less likely to get promoted.

So, if you do have tattoos and aren’t going into the before mentioned career fields, cover up your tattoos! At least until our generation become the head of human resources and companies.

The above image was used in accordance with a Creative Commons license. The photo belongs to Victhor Viking.

Beginner’s Guide to Getting a Body Modification

In an earlier post when I interviewed Kristen MacMillan, she gave some tips for people who get mods for the first time. Kristen is a student at Rowan University with four tattoos and multiple piercings.

Some things she said were:

  1. Do research! APT, the Alliance of Professional Tattooists, has a safe list on their website of parlors they consider safe according to their guidelines.
  2. Get references about the shop and the artist. is a website where you can look at reviews other people posted about parlors.
  3. If you have a bad feeling at any point, say no.
  4. Make sure you think about stigmas and how other people will think view your tattoos.

Some safety tips APT gives are:

1. Always insist that you see your tattooist remove a new needle & tube set-up from a sealed envelope immediately prior to your tattoo.

2. Be certain you see your tattooist pour a new ink supply into a new disposable container.

3. Make sure your artist puts on a new pair of disposable gloves before setting up tubes, needles and ink supplies.

4. Satisfy yourself that the shop furnishings & tattooist are clean & orderly in appearance; much like a medical facility.

5. Feel free to question the tattooist as to any of his sterile procedures & isolation techniques. Take time to observe them at work & do not hesitate to inquire about their experience & qualifications in the tattoo field.

6. If the tattooist is qualified professional, they will have no problem complying with standards above & beyond these simple guidelines.

7. If the artist or studio does not appear up to these standards or if they become evasive when questioned, seek out a professional tattooist.

The most important thing to remember is don’t feel bad! Tattoos are permanent and stopping an artist before they do something you don’t like or something you’re not comfortable with is way easier than getting it removed. Make sure you follow the safety guidelines because body modifications CAN get infected and it CAN cause serious damage.

an infected sternum piercing

infected neck piercings

an infected arm piercing

These pictures were used in accordance with a Creative Commons License. The first belongs to Chelsea Oakes. The second belongs to Kim. The last photo belongs to Ed Hunsinger

Henna Tattooing

A henna being done.

Henna tattoos are an underrated alternative to permanent tattoos.
A henna is a plant used to dye almost anything, but in this case you’d obviously be using it to dye your skin. This is done by mixing the powder with tea or lemon juice.

Things to know

    1. This mixture stains the skin and last for about two weeks.
    2. The “mud” as the mixture is called, needs to stay on your skin for about an hour, but the longer you keep it on, the longer it lasts and the darker it is.
    3. The stain gets darker after you wash it off. Once it reaches its peak color, it fades until it is gone.
    4. There are two types of henna; black henna and true henna.
    5. Black henna is every dangerous and can burn your skin.
    6. The best part of hennas are they’re painless!

The picture on the right belongs to Gary Cobb, and was used according to a Creative Commons license.

The picture above is a henna I got last month.