We continue to learn more Pro-team artist, Xavier “X-ray” Ray. His experiences provide quite entertaining insight to the life of a tattoo artist.
ID: What has been your most Interesting experience tattooing?
This guy came in on his 18th birthday for his first tattoo; a pair of lips on his butt. He had the image he wanted to use. I asked him where he got the lips from? He said, “these are my sister’s lips”. I didn’t want to ask more questions at this point.
I had him show me the spot where he wanted it, on his butt. Dude had a hairy butt, but there was a perfectly shaved spot for the tattoo. I was like huh. I appreciated that he shaved but it looked like the back side of ‘Chewie’.
I placed the stencil and got started. He started making sounds every time I touched his skin, like a shriek. This was through the whole session. After finishing with the client, he asked me, (since it was his first tattoo) if I’m supposed to smack the tattoo. I said ‘ah, no’ for obvious reasons!
BTW, I think this was the first butt tattoo I did. That experience is engraved in my head, forever!
ID: What is the worst damage you have seen on tattoos?
I did a coverup on a client on a tattoo that got infected. It indented the flesh like it was eaten away. She told him it was a bad situation where she had been admitted to the hospital and was on meds for 3 months. After looking at the skin where there was major scarring, I asked more questions. She wanted a lotus with color. It was definitely a challenge.
ID: As an artist working on people’s bodies, what advice do you have for people getting tattoos.
Ok so many things on this
Please know the LOCATION on the body where you want the tattoo. I hear things like “I want a tiger but I don’t know where I want to put it”. It takes time to prepare for tattoo placement with a design. Doing a piece on a thigh vs. ribs is very different.
You need to know what you want, the style. Be prepared. Have reference for your art. You want a geisha; what kind? Traditional? Anime? Give me some perspective.
What size? Not too big. Remember you medium is not the same as my medium. Again, please have references.
And Hygiene! This is a big one with me. Take a shower before you come in, maybe even two showers. I had a walk-in customer who wanted to get a phrase around his ankle. He came straight from a long day of work. When he took off his work boots, the smell was… EWW. If you are getting a butt tattoo, please shower and if you just had sex, well… come on – shower!
ID: You were featured in our series “Other side of the Artist” earlier this year. Share with us some things you do in addition to art and tattooing.
I love being active. I did MMA for a few years. I had done tae kwon do then Muay Thai. I found that I preferred to teach which led to coaching a high school team for a few years. I moved into teaching women self-defense. I had learned that guys would wimp out on the workouts, so I started teaching women.
I LOVE Fishing. My passion for fishing led to an opportunity being a summer camp counselor where I was the director of the fishing program. It is a rough job getting paid to fish all day on a private lake. I also picked up coaching football at the summer camp as well. My first year coaching we won every tournament with the other camps. From all of this I learned I really like working with kids. It is actually something I am passionate about.