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Carrie Davini | All-Star Tattoo


With local artist Christopher Granger on the table for a lengthy session, All-Star Tattoo’s Carrie Davini is free to talk on a variety of subjects relating to her job; after all, Granger suggested the session as a time to talk, with Davini’s needles dancing up and down the entirety of his right leg, part of what’ll eventually be a near-full-body piece.

The waiting room at the whimsically appointed All-Star is full, with a mild rain not keeping down the walk-in clients looking for ink. A few regulars, too, seem to be on hand to chat and hang around the shop, trading comments with Davini as she colors in Granger’s leg. With an appointment book that’s solid through the end of summer, Davini, though, doesn’t focus on who’s walking through the door, only on the clients that are increasingly seeking her out for work.

As needles buzz and Van Halen guitars roll through the shop, the tapedeck’s put to work, capturing her distinctive laugh and no-nonsense, but pleasant, summaries of the job.

What else do you have planned today, after this tattoo?

This is five hours, and that tends to go by pretty fast. After that, a gentleman from Minneapolis—an art history major—wants something related to that. So we’re doing an open book that’s got paint splotches on it, some birds, a compass, some clouds, a paintbrush, a pencil, everything. This will be the first sitting, so we’ll probably get an outline done for that and some shading.

Tell me a little bit about your clientele. How do they find you?

A lot is word of mouth. I think I’ve gotten a big clientele because I’m female; I think a lot of people are more comfortable because I’m female. A lot of repeats, too. I’ve been doing a lot of bigger stuff, so obviously they have to come back to get it finished.

Do you have any projects right now that are particularly interesting to you?

What I’m working on right here, I’m loving. I like art nouveau, and I’ve been doing a lot of Macha stuff; it’s just something I’m interested in. And I’m doing a whole sleeve of vegetables. I like fish, but besides that I love produce, a lot of colors. The gentleman I’m doing that for is vegetarian, which is why I’m doing that.

Do you work on a lot of other artists, as well?

Do you mean other tattoo artists? Not that many, but when I do, it’s very nerve-wracking...because they’re in the field and they’re watching how you do things. As far as any other type of artists, oh, yeah. You appreciate color and decoration, so why not put it on your body?

Are you primarily doing custom work at this point?

Yes. If somebody doesn’t show up or if there’s time between tattoos, I’ll do walk-ins, if they’re waiting. Besides that, most of my clientele is pretty booked.

Have you traveled for shows or expos?

When I go on vacation, I don’t want anything to do with tattoos, unless I’m getting tattooed. There are so many amazing artists out there; I’m a little intimidated working in other shops. It’s a good opportunity to learn, but I usually don’t take it up. I’d much rather go on vacation than hang out at a tattoo shop.

How much interaction do you have with clients? Some I imagine just want to sit and not talk to anyone.

I’m a yammerer; I can’t help it. If people sit and are quiet, I get uncomfortable. I drive the guys nuts because I don’t stop talking, from the moment I get in here to the minute I leave. It definitely makes time go by faster. And you develop these great relationships with your clients. It’s really sad [when] you finish a piece and you’ve learned so much about them, you’re sad to see them go. You find as a tattoo artist, you become a part-time counselor. It’s a choice I’ve made because I’m a talk-aholic.

How do the recognition and awards, affect the business?

Right after we get the awards, we see an increase in business. I think this shop is more word of mouth. We’re all nice people and we try to sell that environment. People are nervous when they first walk into a tattoo shop and we try to change that, make them feel more comfortable. If our clients are comfortable, we’re more comfortable, too. It makes for a better work environment.

When you’re out, do people want to constantly ask you about your pieces? What’s the etiquette on that?

People are always nice to me; it’s because I’m a female and am probably easier to approach. Very rarely do I get negative responses and, of course, they’re not going to say anything. They just get a look on their face that they’re going to get sick. I’ve seen that before, and it’s real offensive. It just depends where I’m going and how I’m going to dress. It used to bother me a whole lot. But I stare at people with tattoos, too, and if I was out, I’d stare at me, too. You can’t really say anything about that.

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