Body artists caution about making the right decisions.
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
LIBERTY -- When Tex Ouderkirk was a teen-ager in Niagara Falls, Canada, he and some friends decided to get tattooed.
Off they drove to a place known as Dirty Dick's, a Buffalo tattoo parlor.
"That guy wasn't very good. He lacked artistic ability," Ouderkirk said.
It's not hard for him to remember. He still carries Dick's rustic attempt at body art.
Ouderkirk decided that since he had some natural artistic ability, he could do better.
That was 34 years ago. Now, he tattoos about a dozen customers a day.
Ouderkirk, 51, is among the artists tattooing and piercing bodies this weekend at the third annual Super Bowl of Ink at the Holiday Inn-MetroPlex.
Purpose: The show is designed to educate people about clean and proper body art, said Wesley "Squirrelly" Jones, owner of Squirrelly's Skin Art Inc. in Hubbard.
Squirrelly's is co-sponsoring the event with Mid-America Horizons, a Niles promotion company.
"It demonstrates that when state health laws are upheld, this can be a safe and fun occupation," Jones said.
To emphasize the health aspect, Ouderkirk named his Plymouth, Mass., parlor "Clean 'n Sober Tattooing."
"I drank too much, too long and got into too much trouble," said the 14-year member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Ouderkirk, who has about a third of his body tattooed, won't tattoo anybody who isn't at least 17, has identification and is with a parent. He once had a mother who tried to get her 14-year-old son tattooed.
"A 14-year-old kid doesn't know what he's doing. You've got to turn them away," Ouderkirk said, noting younger people want tattooed.
"We make poor choices when we're young," he said. "The stuff we thought was cool isn't so cool when you get older."
Piercings: Not far away from Ouderkirk's booth is Daniel Jones, 23, who has been piercing bodies for five years.
Jones of Roanoke, Va., who has 24 piercings on his body, is working this weekend for Captive Bead Co.
"It's a way of self-expression," Jones said. "It's like going to a car lot and getting a new car."
Although he doesn't understand why, Jones has noticed that parents would rather get their children tattooed than their bodies pierced.
Many people don't think about the long-term ramifications of a tattoo, its permanency, Jones said, noting those with piercings can experience difficulties getting a job. He believes he will continue his work as long as there is a demand. He makes a good living.
The event runs from noon to 11 p.m. today and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday.