Tattoo artist of the week

Kristy Case talks cool ink, cover-ups and sensitive body parts

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Kristy Case repeatedly sticks a needle into the back of Aaron Hoyt. It’s cool, though – that’s her job!
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Name: Kristy Case
Manager, Anaconda Tattoo and Piercing
 
How long have you been a tattoo artist?
For about five years. Everybody always told me I’d be good at it, because they liked my art work. I was actually enrolled at the New England Art Institute and ready to go there when I decided to start pursuing tattooing instead. And thank God I did, because I owe a lot less in school loans. I’d be in debt until I was dead.
 
What’s your favorite tattoo you’ve ever done?
A phoenix covering half a back, part of the chest and hip that curls around. It’s still not finished. We’re probably at about 16 hours so far, and about five or six more from being done.
 
Any tattoo regrets?
I have a Kanji symbol that means “Timothy,” and that was definitely a bad idea. But who cares? It’s in a different language so I can tell people it says something cooler. We were engaged once, but we were teenagers, so it didn’t really count.
 
Did you get all your work done by the same artist?
No, but I’ve only been tattooed by myself, my boss and two other people. And the two other people did just one tattoo each. I’ve had them almost all done here, and I did six of them myself.
 
What was the most painful tattoo you’ve ever had done?
I’d have to say my kneecaps. I got “Too weird to live, too rare to die” from Hunter S. Thompson tattooed on my kneecaps. Thank God it didn’t take that long. It was only about an hour, but that was a rough hour.
 
What is the most time-consuming tattoo you’ve ever done?
I did a half back that probably took me between 25 and 30 hours. We did it in about six sittings.
 
Have you ever made any memorable changes or corrections to a tattoo?
I’ve done lots of cover-ups, which is basically a new tattoo over an old tattoo. Most of them are ex-boyfriends and stuff like that where the person is thinking, “Why did I get this? That was so stupid.”
 
What’s the strangest body part you’ve ever tattooed?
Probably the groin area. I’ve had to come pretty close to some private parts in my time. A few people have asked me to tattoo right on their genitals, but they never go through with it. And I’m okay with that. I’d do it, but I’m okay with that.
 
Have you ever done any matching/combination tattoos?
Yeah, a lot of people get matching tattoos. It’s usually best friends or a mom and daughter or something like that. The best friends are the ones that usually end up getting covered up, though. Especially on girls. Girls are catty and vicious.
 
Is the customer always right, or do you try to talk them out of things if you have to?
A lot of people come in with things like “I want a tree, and in the tree I want this five-page poem, and I want it to be only 3 inches tall and I want faces hidden in the tree.” I usually tell people they have to make it bigger if they want to fit all kinds of stuff in there. It has to age well. If you put a bunch of tiny letters too close together, it will just look like a blob in a year.
 
What percentage of your customers are drunk when they come in?
Not many. Once in a blue moon we get one, but we can’t tattoo them anyway. We’ll tell them what it would cost and say, “but not now.” Most of them never come back.
 
Hidden talent?
Mario Kart.
 
Guilty pleasure?
Probably Captain Morgan and Coke.
 
If you weren’t a tattoo artist, what would you be doing?
Homeless and dead? No, I’d probably be a graphic designer. That’s what I was headed for before I got into this. But I’d be a miserable one.

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