Photo by Kathryn Hunter
Chris Hunter tattoos Dustin Adams at Alki Beach Tattoo in West Seattle.

Needles to say, a tattoo makes a unique personal gift

By Kathryn Hunter

How about giving someone a tattoo as a gift? You don't have to be a sailor on leave or a criminal to get a tattoo. Now, they are routine embellishments for people of all ages on a more mainstream level.

A survey shows that 21% of Americans today have at least one tattoo. Who is getting tattooed these days?

A higher percentage of woman are tattooed (23% compared to 19% of males). Of those with ink, 74% are between the ages of 18 and 39.

“What's great about giving a tattoo for a gift is the person gets to pick something that is meaningful and beautiful to them, and they have it forever,” said Alki Beach Tattoo artist Chris Hunter. “I have been tattooing in West Seattle at the same location for seven years and have a steady customer base. I see people from all walks of life. Punk rockers to lawyers, even an 86-year-old woman. Really, all types of people get tattooed and are interested in permanent body art.”

Average tattoo costs in Seattle range from $100 to $200 per hour. Alki Beach Tattoo has a shop minimum of $60, and the artists’ hourly rate is around $140.

“Price is dependent on body placement and how long we anticipate it will take. There’s tons of stuff to bargain shop for, but tattoos shouldn't be one of them, "Hunter said.

A sign on the shop wall reads “Tattoo price shopping? We do quality tattoos. Cheap tattoos are expensive! We fix or cover up many good deals!” In the lobby for customers to view are each of the artist’s extensive portfolios, both drawn and tattooed art.

Hunter recommends that first timers “Research and find an artist and shop you like and bring references to help show what exactly you want. Listen to your artist and trust that they know what they are doing and that they want to give you the best piece of art they can.”

He confirms that “Yes, tattoos hurt.” Some places more than others, the tops of the feet, ribs, armpits and scalp have been reported to be some of the most painful locations. Still, customers come back for more.

So what if you end up not liking your tattoo? Most shops offer free touch-ups after healing (which takes about two weeks). A cover-up tattoo is an option if you don't like one of your past tattoo decisions. Tattoo removal is another growing industry. However, it is painful and costly, on average $200 per session, and most tattoos can take up to 10 to 15 sessions to be entirely removed.

“Tattoos have been around in American pop culture for many generations and they will continue to progress just as America does. You get what you get. Tattoos aren't perfect and neither are people. I love that they are hand-made by a craftsman and not generated by a computer. The subtle imperfections are part of what makes the art beautiful," Hunter said.

You can get a gift certificate for a tattoo. Call your local tattoo shop for more information. Alki Beach Tattoo is located at 2622 Alki Ave S.W.

The shop is open seven days a week, from 11a.m. till 7p.m.

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