Junior journalist: Exploring the world of a tattoo artist
Ryan Summerlin April 15, 2013
Editor’s note: Jonah Dominick, 10, is a fifth-grader at Frisco Elementary who participated in the school’s mentor program. He currently enjoys writing poetry, but someday would like to write about music and tattooing. As part of a project for the mentor program, he interviewed Guapo, a local tattoo artist, to learn about his job and wrote about the experience. This is his first professional publication.
Buzz. I hear the machines as I walk into God Speed Tattoo. I have just started my mentorship with Guapo, owner and operator of God Speed.
He has just walked in.
“Rule No. 1 for being a tattoo artist: you have to sterilize your hands,” Guapo says.
The sink was no ordinary sink. It was a foot pedal sink like the pedal you would use in your car, but instead of brake and go it has hot and cold.
Now I walk into the tracing room. There are three writing binders filled with artwork and tracings of roses, animals and all sorts of different art.
Guapo flipped through pages and pages, looking for something for me to trace. Finally, he found some beautiful roses for me to trace.
“Take your time,” he said. “No rush.”
And again he repeated it. And I repeated it.
While I was tracing, little did I know what awaited me. A stencil? An apprenticeship?
Finally, I finished tracing. I walked out of the tracing room and Guapo asked, “You done, buddy?”
“Yeah,” I replied.
“Let’s see it.”
“Everything has a beginning and end,” Guapo said.
“OK,” I replied.
“How many tattoo guns do you have?” I ask.
“You mean machines,” Guapo said. “Call them machines, not guns. Guns are bad. I love them.”
Finally, I found out what awaited me. He showed me how to tattoo on a real person. The customer, Valani, had just had a baby girl, Bailee, and was getting their bonding tattoo.
“I am originally from the San Francisco,” Guapo says. “I moved here 20 years ago and that’s when I started tattooing.”
“Is it hard to multi-task when you’re tattooing like now?” I asked so eagerly, wanting to know all the answers.
“No, not really,” he replied. “The license is more about sterilization, not too much about the art.”
“So do you need a license if you’re going to a convention out of state?” I asked.
“Not most of the time, because they are only for a couple of days,” Guapo said.
So, as you can see, tattooing is more complicated than just the art. So if you’re looking to get a tattoo or want to know more, stop by God Speed Tattoo in Breckenridge.
A big thanks to Betsy Tomlinson, Guapo and Caddie Nath for letting me write this article.