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Tattoo session goes beyond skin deep | PHOTOS
He shaved off the hair and wiped his canvas with alcohol. He dipped into his inkwell and used a gloved pinky finger to apply a salve. He tested his pedal with a series of foot taps, took a deep breath and asked his canvas, “Are you ready?”
“Yeah,” replied Derrick Burke tentatively.
Peter Dominguez stretched the skin on Burke's chest, lowered his tattoo gun, and began to fill in the wings of a massive harpy across Burke's chest.
“I grew up nerdy. I've always like the idea of a half-chick, half-monster,” Burke said. “What can I say? I'm a nerdy perv.”
All kidding aside, Burke understands that a tattoo of this size will be an exercise in patience and tolerance.
Burke said that getting a tattoo “is a pretty unique feeling. It pretty much just hurts.”
But sometimes it's not about the pain.
“It's all for the end result,” Burke said. “Can you deal with being a little uncomfortable for a few hours to enjoy something for the rest of your life?"
All Hope Aside Tattoo and Art Gallery co-owner Peter Dominguez said there's a lot more that goes into tattooing than just filling in the lines.
“Breathing, talking, laughing. Anything other than (the customer) lying there like he's dead” makes the tattoo a challenge, Dominguez said.
Dominguez, who has been professionally tattooing for more than 17 years, said that multiple factors come into play when tattooing.
“Keeping the skin and equipment sterile is important,” Dominguez said. “If the skin in a particular spot is thinner, I won't push down as hard.”
Skin condition can be an obstacle in the tattoo process.
“Any kind of trauma to a mole has a chance of becoming malignant. It's a speed bump in the session,” Dominguez said.
Throughout the course of Dominguez's career, he realized there is more to his job than just adding artistic expression to a person's figure.
“Sometimes people get a tattoo for a death in the family or to get over something,” Dominguez said. “It's kind of therapeutic for some customers.”
And he's glad to help them in that way. For Burke's chest piece, Domiguez expressed his pleasure in tattooing the harpy.
“I like sci-fi and fantasy tattoos,” Dominguez said. “Anything like that I can really get into.”
Dominguez pointed out that Burke is an ideal customer.
“He is one of my favorite people to tattoo, he's a champ,” he said.
Burke expressed his enjoyment of the experience.
“The conversations with Pete are my favorite part,” Burke said. “And my friends usually stop by and keep me company.”
Burke said he was confident in Dominguez as both an artist and a tattoo professional.
He's also glad that Pete Dominguez is a bigger guy.
"He keeps my arm from twitching and slapping him when he's going over my collarbone,” said Burke, who is not immune to the discomfort of a tattoo.
“I can tell when he is going over meat,” Burke said of his tattoo artist. “The sternum is the worst. I can feel the needle rattling against my bones. I'm a little unfortunate. I have a pretty bony chest.”
As the session drew to a close, Dominguez could tell Burke had gone through enough.
“I can tell he's done,” Dominguez said. “By the way he's reacting and how his body is moving.”
Using a squeeze bottle full of surgical soap, Dominguez wet a paper towel and wiped down Burke's chest for a final time.
He then wrapped plastic around the tattoo and sent Burke on his way – the second of 10 sessions completed.
Here are more photos from the recent session at All Hope Aside Tattoo in Federal Way.
Derrick Burke before the tattoo session:
Derrick Burke after session:
Here's what Burke's finished tattoo will look like:
All Hope Aside Tattoo co-owner Peter Dominguez: