American Tattoo | (760) 639.4545 | 125 Hanes Pl. Vista, CA

July 25, 2015

I'm getting a weird vibe

Last week I kicked a bitch out of the shop. After she left I was a little wound up, but my nerves subsided more quickly than when I've had moments like these in the past.

My client booked her mom a spot with me for a small tattoo celebrating a grandchild. She wasn't able to bring her so her sister brought her to the appointment. They arrived at the shop at 6:30, we went over the design the mom wanted; they showed me some internet reference and I roughed out a version of the tattoo on a scrap piece of paper. 
"I'm gonna go clean this up. Give me a little bit and hang out here," I told them. I went into the office and I started to render the drawing a bit further when the phone rang. I took the phone call and walked around the shop while talking to some lady wanting to get tattooed by my coworker. The call should not have taken so long but she was not wanting to accept the fact that she should have made an appointment weeks ago instead of calling the night before they move across the country. I gave her my boss' cell and told her she could try to text him for a booking, but it was a long shot.
I went back into the office and was finishing the drawing when the phone rang again. It was my boss asking about the text he'd just recieved. I walked around the shop while on the phone with him, because I pace while on the phone.
When I got off the phone with my boss the sister in the lobby called me out of the office. 
"Do you know how long it's gonna be? How long is the tattoo gonna take?" she asked.
"The tattoo will take an hour. What time do you need to be out of here?" I ask.
"Hmmm. By nine."
"Oh yeah, you'll be fine. Lemme go grab the drawing."
It was roughly 7:05 pm. By 7:10 I had refined the drawing to my liking. I had to keep in mind the mother's skin type while making the design: more experienced, thinner, sensitive canvas. The type that bleeds the entire time you are working on it; such delicate application that only the most deliberate will be successful. Because every time I am drawing a tattoo I'm doing my best to imagine what it might look like in ten, twenty, thirty, etc. years. There is not a day I wake up and say, "Tattooing is soooo easy!" while yawning and rolling my eyes.
I brought the drawing out to the door connecting the lobby to the tattoo area. Mom and sister are sitting on the bench about ten feet from me.
"I don't mean to be rude but do you think we're gonna be done in time?"
"Oh yeah. We're good."
"I mean I'm not trying to be rude but you are like answering the phone and we had an appointment at seven thirty, I mean six thirty, and we are just sitting out here by ourselves."
"So, I'm getting a weird vibe. Like you're trying to rush me. Should I even do this tattoo? Because I'm getting a feeling that I shouldn't. Like you're trying to rush me."
"I mean, I don't know how this works. I just see you on the phone and we are just out here."
Her energy seems pushy and that she is already unsatisfied. 
"Um, yeah, I'm drawing a custom tattoo for her."
"I don't know. I'm not trying to be rude," she said in a tone that sounded annoyed with a hint of entitlement.
"You are being rude."
My thought at this point was 'I'm done.'
"I don't think I like your energy and I don't want to do this tattoo. So, we're done and you can leave. Thanks, no thanks."
"Are you serious!?"
"Yes. Please leave."
"That is so fucking rude. That's how you run your business!?"
"Yep. Write a yelp review and get out."

The conversation was getting a bit loud and I'm probably missing some expletives, but I waved good bye and walked to the office as I told them a few more times to leave over her yelling at me about how she can't believe this is how I would run a business. 
I'm in the office telling her to get out and she says she can't hear me because I'm hiding. In hindsight, I should have just opened the door for them at this point instead of walking away. I did retreat because they were a complete waste of my time and that's my coping mechanism. 
I walk back out, continuing to tell them to get the fuck out, walk past them, tell them if they don't leave I'm going to call the cops as I open the door and point them in that direction. As the sister walks past me she flips me off about six inches from my face and let's me know again that I'm a bitch. I gave her a "go fuck yourself" for good measure.
I'm perplexed why someone would stay in a business that has asked them to leave. The whole conversation took place beneath a "We reserve the right to refuse service" sign. Why would someone try to push the buttons of the person about to put a tattoo on their mother? Why would someone want to rush that process? And why anyone would ever start a sentence with 'I'm not trying to be rude but...'? Be honest, with yourself and with others, what you are going to say next will be rude, in words or tone. It's passive aggressive.

I called my client, the sister who made the appointment for her mom and gave her a synopsis of the situation that had just occurred. I apologized for losing my cool, but her sister was acting totally out of pocket and I don't deal with that shit. Especially for a hundred bucks. She told me it was a bummer because her mom was only in town for a short time and really did want the tattoo. I told her I didn't even care and would text her the artwork for them to have to get done somewhere else (but I wasn't about to recommend anyone to them). She told me that it was sort of funny that I told her I was going to call the cops because the sister is actually a border patrol agent. 

July 16, 2015

Busy, busy, busy

I've been just as busy as ever and loving every minute! I recently became a Public Arts  Commissioner for the City of Vista, making me even more active in the arts scene of my hometown. Last June, the Backfence Society and the Hill Street Country Club  held a group art exhibition at an old lawn mower shop on S. Santa Fe Ave. It was our most successful effort to date; a thousand attendees came out that night and we helped raise $1800 for the Vista Art Foundation and its next event the Alley Art Festival. The festival will take place September 5 from 11 am to 9 pm in historic downtown Vista.

Yours Truly at Get Weird! Photo by Jen Acosta

I am making another mural in the downtown of Vista during the festival and am looking for community involvement. If you are interested in helping paint "Hunting Cat" please sign up to be a volunteer. To find out more about the festival please visit

Hunting Cat mural planned for the side of Crozier's Flowers in downtown Vista on Main St.

"Space Coyote" from last year.
For me, the funny (or maybe the torturous) thing about being an artist is that you never feel like you are making enough. But then, I go through the photo album on my phone and sit down at the computer to add pictures (finally) and there really is quite a bit of work to sift through. 

Some recent-ish works:
Finally finishing this Keep-a-Breast cast I was given to paint two years? ago. Not even sure if I'm done with this thing yet.
Krampus, December 2014

Gary and my dad holding his "Gary" painting.

Bounty, March 2015 - SOLD

Fresa Segrada, May 2015
Mural work at GET WEIRD!
Mural work at GET WEIRD!
Mural work at GET WEIRD!
Work in progress.
I've done a few conventions this year, and a guest spot in Petaluma at Aces Over Eights, which has been a blast. I've been lucky enough to visit Austin, Baltimore. Prescott, Tulsa, and next I'll be in Chicago at the end of August. Thank you to everyone who gets tattooed here at home and where I've visited. I feel so lucky!!
Here are some tattoos I wanted to share.

September 24, 2014

Some recent tattoo work

Thanks for looking :)
A pretty fan for Dominique.

On the owner of the salon next door to the shop. Chris is a really amazing lady and one tough cookie. Truly honored to have been able to do this tattoo for her.

Jordan's grandpa.

Eagle and a snake for Scott.

Color kitty cat portrait for Laura.

September 19, 2014

Space Coyote Mural

 Last Saturday, during the inaugural Alley Art Festival, I painted the Avo Theater in downtown Vista with the help of approximately one hundred and twenty eight festival attendees.

The process started back in April when I designed the mural and submitted it for approval from the city of Vista and the Vista Public Art Commission. On Friday, September 13, I met with my friend Justin Frankfather, owner Frankfather Painting, and we sprayed out the background with black and overlaid purple space gas throughout. Justin painted the bar about twenty feet in the air and then challenged me to climb the ladder and add the bows from which the planets would later hang. Not gonna lie, that shit was unnerving. Justin on the other hand, practically ran up the ladder the whole morning, like a boss. But I did it, laughing in my mind, telling myself it would be totally worth it if I fell. Not really. But that's what you tell yourself when you are twenty five feet in the air on a shaky piece of metal.

A big thank you to Robert Bennett, photographer, for this time lapse photography.

Back of the Avo Theater. Very honored Chor Boogie added a Boogie Bird to the outer space scene.

After the background was complete my husband and I chalked out the rest of the design. All of the planets, the sun and the Space Coyote.

During the festival participants wrote their names on a list before adding their hands to the project. The only brush work done was by me after everyone colored in the subject matter.

This project was like nothing I have ever done before. I was truly inspired by some of the participants and enjoyed watching them have so much fun making art in and with their community. Collaboration is an amazing, magical thing to witness, and I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to lead such a task in my hometown.

June 28, 2014

Recent-ish tattoos

Vulture for the always lovely Sherry.
Claw detail.
Hello Kitty camera for Jenny.
Miss Van for Helen.
Cover up for Rattle Jake.
Elora's floral cover up.


Better late than is a slide show from my trip to Reno last March. And, who knew Reno would offer the best chicken wings I've ever had?! Check out Noble Pie for some serious deliciousness.