Richmond is the third most tattooed city in the U.S.
Good thing too, because this means there are some amazing artists and shops all around RVA ready to dole out some inky art. What's makes our city of people with half-sleeves and intricately decorated clavicles even cooler is that since tattoos are more widely seen - they're becoming more widely accepted.
My wife and I are already an alternative couple - we're two chicks, but she doesn't intend to stop there. Oh no, if she has it her way, someday she envisions being practically covered in carefully needled-on artwork. And as of this summer, she's well on her way.
We call her most recent piece: the biggest cover up ever.
In the beginning there was only this mostly-blank canvas, dotted with a playful constellation of moles and friendly freckles. In her younger years, however, my wife had her ex's lips tattooed on her upper left shoulder. Sometimes I'd doodle little vampire teeth on the lips or color them in with bright red marker, until the day came that she decided to cover the pucker...big time.
I reached out to our favorite tattoo artist, Kati Davis, co-owner of Salvation Tattoo here in Richmond, VA and let her know that my wife wanted a back piece that depicted a whimsical foliage scene with adorable critters throughout. Katie, as always, was super attentive and listened as I stuttered and fumbled through the description of what my Missus had yearningly described over the years. After my initial chat with Katie, awesome master of ceremonies at the shop, Phillip, helped me out in getting a gift certificate to surprise my better half with on her birthday.
And so the almost-year-long process began. It took nine sessions, 25 hours, loads of bleeding for wifey, and a lot of needling via Katie to crank out what can only now be described as a friggin' masterpiece, and one motherload of a cover up.
What sets Salvation apart from a lot of other shops around RVA is not only the superior quality of art they offer up, but also the non-pretentious demeanor shop owners, Katie and her hubby, Fred posses. They're truly a chock-full-of-talent bunch over at Salvation. Each artist makes getting a tattoo a bit easier because they know how their craft works, they're good at it, and they seem to really love it.
When it's time for another tattoo, my wife and I go to Katie, but she's a tough cookie to book with because of her ever-growing, stellar reputation. She took home 3rd place in Style Weekly's 2014 Best Tattoo Artist, which is nothing to scoff at considering Richmond's plethora of many, many excellent artists. Tattoos are practically their own currency in this gritty city - great work conjures up respect and value among viewers and so to get in with a true expert demands patience. You could wait months for an appointment with one of RVA's heavy-hitters.
Time and time again, though, Katie is worth the wait. Unlike so many artists out there, she's a bit reserved and almost even humble. My wife and I have both noticed that as she works on you, she'll pause, lean back, cock her head from side to side, and with a furrowed brow examine what she's put on your skin. She cares about her work, and wants to make sure each job is a job well done.
At Salvation, there's no such thing as a job not well done. Each artist has their own style and their excellence is displayed in every piece that they permanently place onto their clientele's flesh. No matter which artist you choose to book with, you'll walk away a satisfied customer.
Like us or not, Richmond is an art-lover's destination. That's precisely what Salvation is serving up, and your skin is the canvas.