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IamA tattooer in Huntsville, Alabama who was recently featured in a video of slow motion tattooing on the YouTube Channel Smarter Every Day that has over a million views in just 24 hours! AMA

Sep 25th 2014 by spittingwisdom • 40 Questions • 724 Points

I work at Timepiece Tattoo Company in Huntsville, Alabama and I was recently in this super cool video on Smarter Every Day. Here's the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxLoycj4pJY

Since being posted yesterday, the video has been picked up by The Washington Post, The Daily Dot, Nerdist.com, and I Fucking Love Science (ifls.com). It's gotten over a million views in 24 hours!

People have been asking me questions who have seen the video, so I thought, why not do an AMA? I am a female tattooer who grew up in the South. I am a mom and a wife (my husband is an economics professor), and I'm an avid reader and learner. I have lots of tattooing stories, as well as personal life experiences, and you may ask me anything.

You can see my work here: www.leahfarrow.com I'm also on Facebook as LeahFarrowArt and have instagram account as well under the username spittingwisdom

I hope this suffices as proof: https://twitter.com/spittingwisdom/status/515164575113965568

Q:

As a fellow Alabamian, how many browning buck tattoo requests have you had?

A:

Ha! I've had a few. My favorite one was a guy who brought in a drawing his friend did of a cross where the end of the cross somehow morphed into the browning buck, and a Confederate flag pattern made up the background. I didn't tattoo it, but I was so impressed by the utter essence of rural Alabama it evoked.


Q:

a cross where the end of the cross somehow morphed into the browning buck, and a Confederate flag pattern made up the background.

That's definitely the most Alabama thing I could ever imagine! Thanks for the answer!

A:

I should make a little book full of tattoos like that that I've been asked to do. You're welcome!


Q:

You need to add moonshine and Roll Tide.

A:

As an Auburn fan, I approve.


Q:

War Eagle!

A:

WDE


Q:

Why did you not do it? Are there certain things that you would refuse to tattoo?

A:

In his case, he didn't like the price I quoted him or the fact that I was booked out for six weeks. There are certainly things I won't tattoo though. I won't tattoo hate symbols. I also won't do face/neck/hand tattoos on people who aren't really tattooed already. I also practice great discretion when tattooing minors in terms of where they get the tattoo and the subject matter.


Q:

What is the number one complaint artists have about customers?

A:

I can't speak for all artists, but I would say that my number one complaint is that I often feel like I care more about the person than they care about themselves. I sincerely care about the people that walk through the door and I want them to get the best tattoo they can possibly get, because, you know, it'll be there for a little bit. Often people come in who are impatient and guffaw at the idea of having to wait in order to get their tattoo. I draw almost everything I tattoo, and I take pride in doing the best job I can do. When I feel that I'm being pushed to rush the process, I start feeling like the person rather get a tattoo for the sake of it, rather than get something of quality that they'll like forever. I want people to look at the tattoos I've done and say, "wow!", and I strive to do that with every client.


Q:

This is the most sincere response I've ever seen. When I got my first tattoo, I felt like my artist hated what I was getting. Coming to you for my next one.

A:

Look forward to seeing you!


Q:

Hey Leah. Just want to say thanks for being so cool. Especially your answer about patience and care about your work. Got my first tattoo in orange beach at trillium studios. Wanted to get it when i was 17 but my parents wouldnt sign. my artist told me its not worth causing a fuss about, and that if I would just wait until I was 18 It would be better. Well went in 7 months later and got it, he only charged me the shop minimum. Not to mention the celtic knot design I brought that I found online didnt make sense, the lines would disappear behind each other etc, so he spent about half an hour sorting it out and re drawing it. Any way il stop rambling but just thanks to artists like you, I dont have a mis matched piece of shit on my back for the rest of my life. Keep it up, if I am ever in Huntsville i will swing by!

A:

Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm so glad you had such a great experience!


Q:

Did you learn anything useful by reviewing the slow mo?

A:

I was surprised at how much the skin bounces! We have to stretch the skin with our non-tattooing hand when we tattoo, but the video helped me see why it's so important!


Q:

What camera did you use?

Thanks.

A:

Oh, I don't know. I didn't use it. You'd have to ask Destin from Smarter Every Day about that. Paging /u/MrPennywhistle


Q:

What is the worst tatoo you've ever come across?

A:

There are a lot of good ones in the badtattoos subreddit. I don't think I have one specific one because they sort of all blur together, but I would say that I'm not a fan of any tattoo that says, "property of" and then a name.


Q:

Has business picked up since the video went viral? Or have people been more hesitant now that they've seen what's actually happening to them?

A:

Well it was just posted yesterday so I haven't experienced a huge rush of business in the last 24 hours, but I have gotten about a thousand more Instagram followers, so I am anticipating a bump!


Q:

What is the worst thing that you have had to tattoo on someone? or what you hate tattooing the most on people?

A:

I hate tattooing black and gray crosses with banners. After the 10th one, I was over it. I don't dislike religious tattoos in general though, just unimaginative ones. There is so much amazing religious art, there is just no excuse for it!

I once tattooed the words "your name" on some Army dudes butt cheek. That wasn't enjoyable.


Q:

Hairy guy here. I would love to get a couple tattoos but being on the furrier side of the spectrum I'm thinking that having a tattoo where there is hair might not be a great idea. Any experience with it? Not that big of a deal?

Also, I love the way pinups look, but have never been in the Navy. Still ok to get one?

A:

It's OK to get whatever you want. That's what I say at least. In terms of being hairy, the tattooer will shave you before getting your tattoo, but obviously the hair will grow back so you just have to decide whether you're down with that!


Q:

Do you watch shows like Inkmaster and LA Ink, and if so, what do you think? Generally, I mean.

Also, would you ever try to go on a competition show like Inkmaster, or not?

A:

I have in the past, but I don't really anymore. Some of the artists are great on there, no question, so sometimes it's nice to see their pieces. However, I am disappointed at the general way tattooers are portrayed on there. Here I am, minding my own business, going home at night and reading to my son, taking him to baseball practice, and having philosophical conversations with my husband, when according to those shows, I'm supposed to be fighting with people and drinking until I black out. I never knew!

Seriously, though, I don't like having to fight against that stereotype, especially when it's often being reinforced in the media. I would never want to be on a show like InkMaster because I don't want to be on TV.


Q:

What is the most bad ass tattoo you ever seen? Either done by you or someone else.

A:

Oh man, I don't think I could narrow it down. Most everything I see Jeff Gogue do blows me away. Shige from Japan also does mind blowing work. I dream of someday being tattooed by both of them.


Q:

What's the funniest/strangest request for a tattoo anyone has ever asked you for?

A:

When I lived in Auburn, AL, a guy came in asking if I'd tattoo the words, "Bridget, I'm sorry. I was wrong. I love you." The story was that he was with his girlfriend for three years but wouldn't make a commitment to marry her. She broke up with him, and a few weeks later, he was hit with regret. He was meeting with her in two weeks to try to win her back and wanted the tattoo to prove that he was serious. I tried to talk him out of it, but he was adamant. I was sure it was a horrible idea.

I saw him and Bridget a few months later. They were engaged. Last I heard they got married in a big wedding in the Bahamas.


Q:

Oh man, was it Jason? I've lived in Auburn for a while now, and for a good bit of time there were signs on the way out to Opelika asking for Bridget to come back to him. I always wondered what that was about.

A:

Yes that was him!!!


Q:

I want a near photo quality tattoo of my Boston Terrier. There are so many images online of tattoos that were supposed to be photo quality but ended up being terrible. How can I be (relatively) sure a tattoo artist is capable of this quality work?

A:

Look at their portfolios! If they have work of portrait like dog tattoos that are awesome, go see them. Artists put their best work in their portfolio, so if you're not in love with their work, then don't go to them.


Q:

Hey Leah :) I think we've been "internet friends" for quit a while. I think we were lj friends before twitter friends, but it's hard to keep track of these things sometimes... My name is different here, but I favorited your tweet a few minutes ago. I saw the post for this video, but didn't end up watching it the other day, I didn't know you were the artist in it! Very cool. The video totally made me cringe when I actually watched it. I usually don't watch when I'm getting tattooed. Yikes.

Anyhow, professional questions! -Do you think the video will get you more publicity for your shop? Would you want to do more videos? Are you familiar with Dabe Alan's time lapse tattoo videos? http://www.dabealan.com/video.html I think they're super cool, but I also realize what an absolute painstaking process it would be for everyone involved.

Personal questions! -Is your husband tattooed as well? Do you find people judging your ability as a functional adult or a mother harshly before getting to know you? In my new relationship, my guy has zero tattoos and is not at all of a similar style as I am. I often wonder how strange we look together. Would you say that tattooed parents have an opportunity to raise their children in a more tolerant and respectful mindset than others? Simply because their children are exposed to "abnormally" colored skin and people with body modifications (especially when working at a shop)? Do you think 18 is the age people should wait until to get tattoos?

Thanks!

A:

Hi! I think I know who you are. We were definitely LJ friends. Aww, the old days.

I think the video will definitely get us more publicity. I've already gotten a thousand more followers on Instagram. I haven't seen Dabe's videos but that's super cool.

My husband is not tattooed at all. We've been out and about and people have asked us if we're together and have remarked on how I have tattoos and he doesn't. Plus, he's an academic and I'm a tattooer and people find that odd as well. I don't really care though. Our relationship is awesome and we go together really well.

Being a tattooed parent is trying at times. I often worry that people will judge my son for my appearance. Most parents I've met have been really great, and my son's friends don't care that I have tattoos of course. Still, though, I cover up my tattoos when I'm meeting teachers/doctors etc. just to cover my bases. It's unfortunate, but it is what it is.

I think 18 is a good age. Really with any regulations, I think it's really difficult to establish what is actually correct or not. I think a lot of 18-year-olds probably shouldn't be getting tattooed based on their judgment but I could say the same for some 25-year-olds too, so who knows!


Q:

How nervous were you when you did your first tattoo? Do you recall what it was?

A:

I was really nervous because it was on myself! It says "Apprentice '08" Rite of passage and all that.


Q:

Thx for the reply. What about the first one on a client?

A:

It was on a friend of mine who was at the shop all the time and has a bunch of tattoos. It wasn't too nerve-racking because he was fully aware of what was about to occur. It was the outline of a shotgun with the word "boomstick" underneath on his upper thigh.


Q:

I just saw this an hr ago and thought the video was amazing. now for my question: Is there a specific part of the body ( excluding genital area ) you hate to tattoo a person? and why?

A:

I don't really hate tattooing any part of the body to be honest, well, except maybe the inside of the lip. It never looks good and it usually goes away. I haven't been asked to do it in awhile though, maybe because I moved away from a college town.

I don't tattoo genital areas, well, because I don't want to. :)


Q:

Traveled to Redstone for work not too long ago. What are the best taco and coffee places in Huntsville and why are they the Taco Bus and Kafeelatsch?

A:

Not sure about coffee. I came from Auburn where there was the most amazing coffee shop ever and I haven't found one that compares here. I heard Olde Towne is decent but I haven't been there in a long time.

Bandito Burrito is probably the most popular local taco place.


Q:

Angels Island Coffee on memorial is my favorite.

A:

Is it good? I've only been there once.


Q:

I love it and the price is nice. Used to go after training at least once a week until I had to take a break for reasons. I'm just not on that side of town anymore. I go to the nook* from time to time if I'm in need of a fix.

Edit: not the Nook I meant the foyer. Beers on the mind and it's not even Friday.

A:

The Nook has coffee?


Q:

Sorry about that. 3pm drag makes me think beer. I meant the foyer. You never know though.. the best irish coffees in town is a toss between the turtle and west end.

A:

Oh sweet. I've never been there. I'll have to check it out.


Q:

How far out are you booked right now? Judging by the popularity of the video, I'm getting the feeling I need to set an appointment now if I want to get in before Christmas!

A:

I'm booked out about five weeks for small pieces and about two months for larger ones, a little further for weekends!


Q:

Same for Seejay and Shayna?

A:

Yep, actually I think Seejay is booked out a little farther than me right now.


Q:

Would you rather tattoo 100 duck sized horses or one horse sized duck?

A:

If the duck will stay still, I'll do the duck. I might get exhausted with having to do 100 tattoos.


Q:

sorry, my question was confusing...I meant would you rather do 100 duck sized horse tattoos or one horse sized duck tattoo.

syntax is a bitch.

A:

The latter.


Q:

Don't listen to them, your reply was perfect.

Remember coming across your macaroni heart not too long ago, it's such a great idea. Keep inking, your work is very good-looking.

A:

Thank you!


Q:

Is there any tattoo designs that you would not do because of your own morals?

I'm talking about really hard core/ gore/ porn

A:

Definitely. I had a really old guy, I'm talking like 75-80, come to the shop and ask me to tattoo a "risque" image on his butt. He wasn't joking. He pulled out the image and it was a still from a porn of a couple 69'ing. I told him I didn't feel comfortable doing it.

I'm also not very good at tattooing demons or gore. I guess I'm just kind of a happy person and that stuff doesn't come easily, so I tend to stay away from it.


Q:

As a fellow Southerner, (Texas), what about racist designs?

I sometimes see folks with confederate flags(that's okay I suppose), but also see swastika, images of lynching, or straight up n****

what is your reaction people wanting to get those or those already have those, but want a hello kitty next to it or something?

A:

I don't do those types of tattoos, and I often offer to cover them up at a discounted rate if I come across them.

Honestly, we don't get a lot of those people at the shop where I work. We're a mostly custom shop and we're not in an area with a lot of foot traffic so people have to sort of be looking for us.


Q:

Do you know any good mac n cheese recipes?

A:

I'm so glad you asked! My husband got me this book last Christmas and I've been working my way through it: http://www.amazon.com/The-Mac-Cheese-Cookbook-Restaurant/dp/160774466X

So far I like the Mexican mac and cheese the best. I made it for a May the Fourth be with you/Cinco de Mayo party.


Q:

I've never gotten a tattoo but want one, how much should I be prepared to spend for a tiny one color tattoo that's simple and only a few inches long and wide?

A:

Most tattoo shops have a minimum, usually somewhere around $50 or $60, but every shop is different as to what they charge. It's going to be there forever, so I'd just find a tattooer whose work you love and go from there.


Q:

I guess low-ish pain tolerance. Though it may be just initial pain because I remembered when I broke my wrist it initially hurt but after like 20 minutes I was over it.

A:

Pfft, you'll be fine. Go for it.


Q:

What are you feelings as a couple on your son getting a tattoo?

A:

I'd be OK with it, however, I most likely won't sign for him while he's a minor and I'd encourage him to get it done by a reputable artist. He's been around tattoo shops since he was three and he is more familiar with tattooing than a lot of adults, so I think he'll make a good decision when the time comes.


Q:

[deleted]

A:

Sending good tattoo vibes your way!


Q:

I've heard people say that some tattooists actually tattoo themselves. Is this true? Thanks!

A:

I did when I was starting out. It's sort of a rite of passage. I don't do it anymore because, well, it sucks.