Needle and the damage done |

Needle and the damage done

Jake Harkins

Jesse Novotnak got his first tattoo at age 15. Now, eight years later, he has biomechanical animals running up his arm, across his back and down his leg.

“I like biomechanical,” said Novotnak, 23, of Breckenridge.

He spent his past five tattoo sessions at Independent Art Exotic Piercing and Tattoo, 326 S. Main St. in Breckenridge. Novotnak is looking to continue covering his body, too – he plans to blanket half of his arm with new designs.

When it comes to receiving large tattoos, Novotnak is not alone, as the industry moves ahead with a bigger is better attitude.

“The biggest thing in tattoos is bigger,” said Sierra Colt, 27, owner of Independent.

Over the years, the idea of having a tattoo has become increasingly more accepted, which is why Colt says tattoo size is growing.

“Small tattoos turn into small little blobs,” said Matt Victor, owner of Rock Star Tattoo in Boulder.

He said all tattoos will blur over time, but the larger ones incorporating more skin between the ink don’t show it as much and are easier to touch up.

“We’re learning to use more negative space,” said Victor, 28. “We’re doing this because skin is perfect and will always stay the same color.”

Recently, tribal bands and Chinese characters have dominated skin art, but this is giving way to more artistic designs that can cover entire sections of the body.

This movement is something many tattoo artists like.

“The tribal thing is here to stay whether we like it or not,” said Colt, who estimated 60 percent of his clients choose artistic tattoos to tribal and other designs found in supplied art books. “It’s just kind of boring.”

Sandi Calistro, 23, inks customers at Rock Star and said she considers tattoos a form of art and the body as a canvas.

“There are more tattooists now who are more artistic,” Calistro said.

This is another reason some think bigger is better as larger tattoos allow more attention to detail.

Body piercing is branching out too. As conventional piercing becomes commonplace, extremists continue to push the boundaries.

Surface piercing is the new trend, Colt said. These piercings are done directly on a body surface using a Tygon tube, which is inserted under the skin to hold a stud in place. Popular placements include the neck, forearm and back.

All types of people are testing the waters now. Angelique Rouchard, a piercer at Rock Star, said she just did a surface piercing on a man who had no previous body art or jewelry.

“I’m seeing more a variety of people,” she said. “It’s not just the punk-rockers anymore.”

Colt expects to see both bigger tattoos and more extreme piercing to continue to grow in popularity. He says people generally don’t worry about anything other than the initial pain.

“The “for life’ thing is becoming less of a concern,” he said.

This is becoming increasingly the case as technology develops.

Werner Deubon, a laser technician in Los Angeles, said he can remove virtually any tattoo. Removal typically costs $200 a session, and a simple 6-inch tattoo takes six sessions.

Novotnak is not worried about having to go under the laser anytime soon. Even with a disapproving mother, he plans on continuing to color his body.

He won’t be working with Independent anymore though – he’s moving to San Diego. But he’s confident he will find someone else to do a quality job on the rest of his body.

“It’s just so addictive,” he said. “The more you get, the more you want.”

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