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Tattooers Talk Trends

Jason Nagy shows off the completed part of what will eventually be a full leg sleeve tattoo.

Tattoos are an art form that is extremely personal, allowing the wearer to express what is important to them and the tattoo artist to express his or her vision of that concept.

Trends come and go quickly in the industry, and local tattoo shop owners Chuck Schorr and Ron Meyers discussed what trends they are seeing now, how their art form relates to pop culture and the nature of their art in general.

“Pop culture is always going to affect tattooing, and tattooing is always going to reflect pop culture trends. Tattooing is exceptionally trendy, but tattooing is a reflection about how passionate people feel about pop culture trends rather than being the trend itself,” said Schorr of Hot Rod Tattooing in Martins Ferry.

Schorr demonstrated his craft for The Times Leader, outlining a character on the thigh of his friend of 20 years Jason Nagy. Nagy will eventually have a full leg sleeve after several more tattoo sessions with Schorr.

“Jason is getting a contemporary Japanese leg sleeve using elements of traditional Japanese tattooing mixed with pop culture iconography,” Schorr said. “Specifically, it is Jason’s own house cats dressed up like traditional Japanese Samurai, but their uniforms and armament are designed and colored like recognizable garments from the ‘Star Wars’ trilogy.”

Nagy said the idea for his leg sleeve did not come from a trend but from a combination of things that were important to him, such as his favorite cat, his son’s favorite cat and, eventually, his wife’s favorite cat. Nagy and his son both share an affinity for Japanese art.

“We are obviously a cat family, and these are the cats we have bonded with. It was actually my son’s idea to get my cat done as a Samurai, and we kind of ran with that idea. The ‘Star Wars’ aspect of the tattoo is because we are a family of Star Wars fans,” Nagy said. “This is the style of work that Chuck is the most comfortable with and does really well. Just seems like the perfect combination of things that put me here to have him do this particular tattoo.”

Nagy lives in Kent, Ohio, and drives two and a half hours for his tattoo appointments with Schorr.

“This is my fifth appointment already — just for this particular one. It’s more than just, ‘I found a picture and want to get this done,'” he said.

Schorr said his studio has many different artistic voices, with every tattooist doing things their own way and reflecting trends and pop culture in a unique way.

“We are not only the reflection of pop culture but the vehicle of pop culture,” Schorr said.

Ron Meyers, owner of Low Lock Tattoo Studio in St. Clairsville, said trends in tattoos change constantly, although right now pocket watches, compasses, arrows and roses with skulls are popular requests.

“At the moment, the trend is everything on Pinterest. In the past we used to have people come in and look at designs on our Flash sheets that were up on our walls and decide what they wanted. We don’t even have those any more. People just bring in 15 pictures on their phone,” Meyers said.

Meyers noted that although his studio will do small tattoos such as arrows and infinity knots, most people who come in to his shop want either a full or half sleeve tattoo.

“Our stuff tends to be more photo-realistic,” Meyers said. “People are trending at our shop toward work on a larger scale rather than small tattoos here and there. For example, we have been doing a lot of patriotic stuff lately, half sleeves tied into the American flag.”

Schorr also noted the popularity of Pinterest in helping people choose what tattoos they want.

“Pinterest is what we refer to for whatever the new trend is. The infinity knot trend is kind of waning. The feathers exploding into birds is kind of waning,” Schorr said.

“My wife is on Pinterest all the time and generally telling me what the next tattoo trend is going to be. And she is usually right.”

Schorr said people who get those types of tattoos are getting them as an embellishment and treating the tattoo like jewelry and not necessarily committing one of their body parts to wearing a huge piece of art. He noted that he was not trying to dissuade people from getting those types of tattoos, if that is what they want.

“I get it. The rose was the Pinterest tattoo of the ’40s before there was Pinterest. But this is where we are now, where technology and this … old art form have merged,” Schorr said.

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