Odessa shop offers medical condition tattoos

June 14, 2011 7:19:56 AM PDT
Many people with medical conditions such as diabetes or epilepsy can buy bracelets or other jewelry to alert medical personnel in case an emergency leaves patients unable to communicate. But more and more people are considering medical-alert tattoos instead of the jewelry.

Hooligans Apparel and Tattoos recently announced they will be offering low-cost medical-alert tattoos to their customers.

Staff had thought about adding this service for a while, tattoo artist Shawn Cherry said. More people are turning to tattoos to communicate health conditions because jewelry can be lost or broken, according to Cherry, or "Bounty" as he's known.

"They're becoming more popular because tattoos are easier to wear," he said.

Most medical alert tattoos look like a double snake with wings or a red Star of Life symbol. The medical tattoo would cost from $10 to $50 depending on the size, Bounty said.

The tattoo parlor isn't the only one in town, and other shops said they can do medical-alert tattoos, too.

For some residents, the tattoo style and atmosphere of the place makes it a favorite for a tat.

Hooligans has been open for about four months, after changing names and locations, Bounty said. It used to be Damnation Apparel. The tattoo artist speaks with pride about the parlor, bragging about how hygienic it is.

"Every surface is hospital-grade clean," Bounty said, and in line with state law, they use needles once and disinfectant to prevent infections.

Customers said they liked the originality and creativeness of the tattoos.

Odessa resident Chris Mullins said he chose the tattoo parlor because there was no cigarette smoke and the atmosphere is laid-back.

"I like it," Mullins said. "It's clean and professional."

Mullins got a tattoo in tribal black of a griffin, a mythical creature with an eagle head and the back of a lion. He said it's original and included a lot of freehand drawing.

Bounty said they work with customers to understand what they want. Bounty and other Hooligans tattoo artist Kodak Houston, or "Kodak" as he's known, pride themselves as having a "light hand." This means that the ink is deposited into the top of the dermis, which is the second major layer of skin. Going deeper can mean more pain, Bounty said. The lighter the hand, the quicker the tattoo will heal, he said. Healing can take a week to two weeks to completely heal.

"We just want to create good art," Bounty said.

The artists can do almost anything the customer can imagine, both Kodak and Bounty said.

What's popular?

Well, that would be stars, lots and lots of stars.

"Stars are huge," Kodak said.

In Odessa, oilfield-related tattoos are popular, ink drawings of drilling rigs and pipe wrenches. Also popular is tribal lettering, skulls and the names of children, spouses and significant others. "Which we try to talk them out of," Bounty said of the names. Kodak has tips for people considering a tattoo. Don't just pick something random, he said. Really think about it. Kodak is heavily tattooed and he said that every tattoo is like a diary. He remembers life events by the symbols embedded in his skin.

"Let it have some kind of thought and meaning," he said.

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