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Who's inked (or pierced)? Colorado Springs

City Council
(9 members)
Tattooed: 11%
Pierced: 0%

El Paso County Board of County Commissioners
(5 members)
Tattooed: 0%
Pierced: 0%

KRCC-FM 91.5
(11 on-air personalities)
Tattooed: 45%
Pierced: 18%

The Colorado Springs Independent
(32 in-house staffers):
Tattooed: 38%
Pierced: 22%

USA Cycling National Development Team
(11 members contacted)
Tattooed: 18%
Pierced: 0%

Manitou Springs City Council
(7 members)
Tattooed: 14%
Pierced: 0%

The World Famous Dj Vu
(percentage of an undisclosed amount of "independent contractors." Read: strippers.)
Tattooed: 95%
Pierced: 70%

"Piercings" include neither traditional ear piercings nor past piercings that have since been allowed to close.

Comparable cities

Initial research and best guesses by artists and establishments indicate the possibility of more than 50 licensed tattoo shops in Colorado Springs.

It's a common assumption and it's incorrect.

After a number of phone calls, Web searches and two treks to the El Paso County Health Department, we narrowed that number to 34. At least, that's how many shops are registered with and annually slated for inspection by the health department. Many cities do not require tattoo shops to complete the same type of registration process.

Due to the fly-by-night nature of tattoo studios opening and closing perpetually and the lack of centralized regulations in many states, these numbers are admittedly our best guess after a month of research. We wouldn't place any solid bets; a few may hit the mark and the population numbers are estimates. But they serve to show how Colorado Springs stacks up, per capita ... probably.

Colorado Springs, pop. 370,000, 34 shops

Pittsburgh, Pa., pop. 325,000, between 18-27 shops

Wichita, Kan., pop. 355,000, 7

Minneapolis, Minn., pop. 373,000, roughly 20 shops

Sacramento, Calif., pop. 445,000, roughly 30 shops

Las Vegas, Nev., pop. 517,000, over 100 shops (They have us beat, but it's Vegas, whaddya expect?)

Denver, pop. 557,000, 32 (registered) shops

Amanda Lundgren

Last states to legalize tattooing

Given the relative plethora of tattoo shops in Colorado Springs, you might be surprised to know some states just recently passed legislation to legally allow ink as art. In the early 1960s, New York imposed a prohibition against tattooing because the New York City Board of Health believed tattoo parlors were fueling a hepatitis outbreak. The state didnt legalize tattooing again until 1997. Massachusetts followed New Yorks lead, banning the practice from 1962 until 2001.

South Carolina and Oklahoma are a photo finish for last place, legalizing ink in March and November of 2006, respectively.

Tattoo removal

As much as you loved that tribal armband tattoo you got immediately after turning 18, youre now realizing you look like every other schmuck who got ink for the sake of getting ink. Time to get it removed.

Probably the safest way to remove a tattoo is by laser, which breaks up ink particles that are later attacked by the bodys cells. Usually multiple sessions are needed, which can become pricey.

Pikes Peak Tattoo offers tattoo removal at $80 a session. The Colorado Laser Clinic advises on its Web site that one could need anywhere from 6-15 sessions to remove a tattoo, depending on the size. So, your $60 tribal armband could wind up costing between $480 and $1,200.

Hey, dont blame us youre the one who walked into the first shop you saw without an appointment, pointed to the most unoriginal design on the wall and said, I want that.

For more information on tattoo removal contact any of the following establishments:

Academy Dermatology and Laser Center, 1655 Briargate Blvd., Suite 200, 590-1800, academylaser.com

The Colorado Laser Clinic, 1985 Dominion Way, 596-4000, colaser.com

Pikes Peak Tattoo, 902 N. Circle Drive, #201, 632-5300, pikespeaktattoo.com

Amanda Lundgren

Area shops

A-Z Masters, 2053 B St., 579-0220; 523 N. Santa Fe Ave., Pueblo, 296-1000, a-zmasters.com

Above Suspicion, 621 W. Colorado Ave., 328-1544, myspace.com/paes164

Academy Star, 4325 N. Academy Blvd., 260-7827

Anatomical Tattoo and Body Piercing, 908 N. Circle Drive, Suite C, 473-3344

Area 51, 3031 E. Platte Ave., 268-0510

Art in Motion, 927 E. Fillmore St., 636-1114, artinmotiontattoos.com

Art with a Pulse, 729 1/2 W. Colorado Ave., 630-3628, artwithapulsetattoo.us

Awesome Ink, 1747 B St., 540-0320, awesomeink.com

Barfields Affordable Tattoos and Piercings, 1861 N. Circle Drive, 633-3674

Bijou Tattoo, 9 E. Bijou St., 635-0650, myspace.com/bijoutattoo

Bone Deep Tattoos, 3720 Constitution Blvd., 573-7886

Freakys, 308 E. Platte Ave., 536-0400; 1714 Brookwood Ave., 575-0420, freakys.com

Glory Badges, 219 E. Platte Ave., 630-7675, glorybadges.com

Heebee Jeebees, 318A E. Colorado Ave., 635-0620

Holey Rollers, 332 E. Colorado Ave., 577-9943

Hotrod Tattoo, 2344 S. Academy Blvd., 392-2271, hotrodtattoo.us

House of Catt Tattoo, 2929 Galley Road, 597-0026, angelfire.com/ego2/cattstark

Ink Pitt Tattoo and Piercing Studio, 5698 S. U.S. Hwy. 85-87, #107, 392-9388

Jez Ink, 723 Dale St., Fountain, 388-6831, jezink.com

Living Art Tattoo, 586 S. Academy Blvd., 578-9688

Out a Line Ink, 3623 Galley Road, 591-8052

Pikes Peak Tattoo, 2924 Wood Ave., 632-6141; 902 N. Circle Drive, #201, 632-5300, pikespeaktattoo.com

Premier Tattoo, 429 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 633-4045, premiertattoo.com

R U Tattooed, 5352 Montebello Lane, 260-1357, rutattooed.com

Shrap Metal Piercing, 2928 Parker St., 963-3279

Sinister Tattoos, 2216 E. Platte Ave., 575-0646, sinistertattoos.com

Snakes Tattoo, 2340 E. Platte Ave., 475-8282, snakestattoo.com

Springz Ink, 603 S. Nevada Ave., 634-7600, springzink.com

Studio Habitat, 443 Union Blvd., 963-1726

Superstar Tattoo, 1865 Peterson Road, 574-7827, superstartattoos.com

Tattoo America, 632 S. Academy Blvd., 380-8000

Tigers Eye Tattoo, 645 Ford St., 201-5823, tattoolegendz.com

Top Notch Tattoo, 1615 Lashelle Way, 576-2769

Westside Tattoo Gallery, 2031 W. Colorado Ave., 219-4800, westsidetattoo.net

COSMETIC TATTOOS

A Total New You Salon, 975 Garden of the Gods Road, 528-8511, atnysalon.com

All New Innovations Day Spa, 4360 Montebello Drive, #1200, 266-0682, allnewinnovations.com

Premier MediSpa, 3920 N. Union Blvd., #250, 599-7768

The Rage Salon & Day Spa, 2360 Montebello Square, G2, 260-6955

Piercing

The price of being skewered varies much more than that of being tattooed, for the clear reason that poking an ear is a little less involved than say, getting a Prince Albert.

But even the price of the same procedure, such as a navel or nipple piercing, can range a bit around town. In some shops, expect to pay $25 to $40 for small-procedure work and in others, such as reader-voted, Indy Best-Of-winning Shrap Metal, look to pay $10 across the board. The disparity can partly be attributed to piercers who are independent contractors inside a shop vs. those who are paid hourly and working within a volume-based shop.

You will hear lots of smack talk on this subject, but don't let it affect your decision of where to get poked. Some workers in hourly shops are ex-EMTs with extensive medical training. Before you buy into anyone's hype, ask a lot of questions of the shop owner and piercer. Look into jewelry threading and material, as well.

A widely contentious Web site (revered by some locally and loathed by others), safepiercing.org, at least offers a lot of information on getting pierced that should help you make an informed decision on the right studio for you. The price will fall into place.

Tattoo

Art with a Pulse Tattoo's Jack D'Amore cites an old industry saying when it comes to the question of what to expect to pay for a tattoo: "A good tattoo ain't cheap, and a cheap tattoo ain't good."

D'Amore and artists such as Paes 164 from Above Suspicion Tattoo charge $150 an hour, justified by their experience, skill and reputation. Internationally renowned artist Rich Ives, from Pueblo's Steel City Tattoo, charges $250 an hour. And there's no short waiting list to get into any of these guys' chairs.

The cost of a tattoo is based on design complexity, size, area of the body and, obviously, time spent under the machine.

The industry average price for good custom work is widely agreed to be somewhere between $100 and $125 an hour. A general rule of thumb is to be skeptical of artists charging far less or more than this figure. Though some world-famous hotshots do get $500 or more per hour, it's rare, and no one of that stature resides in Colorado Springs.

Remember that artists working in another's shop pay up to 60 percent of their hourly wage for rent and supplies, which explains why a talented artist in a reputable establishment wouldn't accept much less than $100 per hour.

And that brings us to another important, and lesser-known body art custom: tipping.

Tipping

Again, because many artists are paying half or more of their hourly income back to the shop, tipping has become customary in the tattoo industry.

Generally, tattoo and piercing artists aren't hurtin' that bad on the hourly wage after shop payout, but tipping is still a nice gesture if you're pleased with the work.

According to Holey Rollers' Jeremy Katz, 20 percent would be greatly appreciated, just as it is in restaurants. But he acknowledges that because not all customers are aware of tipping in tattoo and piercing studios, it's not uncommon that customers won't leave anything extra. And the artists aren't going to chase you to your car.

Sure, it's hard on everyman wages to shell out an additional $80 on top of $400. But consider that you're making a life-long investment: We aren't talking about a pair of Skechers or a concert T-shirt.

If you have the discipline to save up for the ink or metal, maintain your Zen for a week longer and grow from Padawan to Jedi save some tip money, too. Your artist will love you.

Matthew Schniper

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