CELEBRATE KNOXVILLE – While you’re thnking about fall decorations, why not add a little color to yourself? This week Celebrate Knoxville paid a visit to Liquid Ink Tattoo to chat with artist Tony Maskevich about industry trends and to ask if Knoxville has its own tat vibe.
Tony Maskevich (pictured above) says he has worked as a tattoo artist since October of 1991, and since that time he has “heard it all from folks sitting in the chair” and has developed his own strict standards for a clean shop. He has even been a special speaker on industry standards at the University of Tennessee and has expanded his art into creating custom framed artwork (including airbrush) as well as custom design and installation of signage for other businesses. Photo by Laura Long Martin for Celebrate Knoxville.
“Tennessee has some pretty strict standards for this work, but I go even beyond that,” Maskevich says. “You saw my daughter in the lobby, right? I want this shop to be clean enough for me and for my family, as well as for all my clients. Some of the things I do here, (he points with a gloved hand to disposable plastic coverings on the ink lines from his machine and on containers on his desk) aren’t law, but I do them anyway.”
Cleanliness and hygiene are always important for Liquid Ink Tattoos, and they are inspected six times a year, Maskevich said. Fines for health inspection infringements can range from $50 to $500. The company has strict standards that go beyond what the law requires, and the excellent inspections history for the company is a testimony to high standards.
As far as trends go, Maskevich says geometric patterns from Europe are making their way into the Knoxville market, as well as tattoos designed to look like watercolor paintings. In urban cities like Knoxville, Tennessee, he sees a lot of steampunk, mandalas, and a lot of images that morph into other images like M. C. Escher paintings. As often as he can, he goes to conventions such as Tattoo Carnival of Mayhem in Pasadena, Texas, to learn tricks of the trade from other artists and to keep up with trends.
“Tribal will never go away,” he says, referring to designs that look like black and white drawings. “And I can’t tell you where those designs came from in the beginning, but now it is a standard in this business.”
Editor’s Note: Wiki says the word “tattoo” comes from the Polynesian word “tatau”, meaning “to write.”
Traditional tattoos refer to enduring symbols of a variety of nations and cultures, such as tigers, eagles, stars, swords and other weapons, and fire.
“Traditional tattoos are old school, and are respected designs among equipment makers and ink manufacturers,” Maskevich said. “That would be like the tiger with the sword through his head, or the nautical star, which is considered by some to be a reminder to seek balance in life (star points north, to find your way home).” Other symbolic designs may indicate that a person has spent time in prison (cobweb), survived a suicide attempt (semicolon) or witnessed and/or committed a murder (teardrop).
Maskevich says in 26 years in business he has heard many stories from clients, and since tattoos can be deeply personal, there is a measure of confidentiality to his work. He loves clients that bring in art that they want him to duplicate, but sometimes gets annoyed with people who bring in a photo from Pinterest and want that exact tattoo, which is a challenge sometimes, especially if the design is complicated.
Maskevich says he works hard to produce the style of work clients are looking for, if not that specific design. Costs for a simple tattoo start at about $60 and can go up into hundreds, even thousands of dollars for large pieces, such as back pieces, or sleeves that cover part or all of an arm. Clients that also want body piercing can choose from a wide variety of jewelry at the shop. Gift certificates are also available.
The business often gets involved with fundraisers, and in October this year Liquid Ink plans to donate a portion of the proceeds to a friend, Bobbi Foster, who is a survivor of breast cancer.
Does Knoxville have its own tat vibe?
“Every state has tattoos that are popular for that place,” he says. “Here in East Tennessee, you better stock up on orange (ink).”
Liquid Ink is located at 12215-B Chapman Highway in Seymour, Tennessee. Call for an appointment at 865-333-5963.