(Originally Posted on Monday, 09 February 2015 in Sturgis.com Blogs)
When you ask people about what they want to do in Sturgis, getting a tattoo seems to be on many people's agenda. It seems like a perfect way to commemorate your trip, especially if you have taken the traditional route and rode out.
I would advise a little bit of caution.
Tattoo shops are set up virtually everywhere in Sturgis during the rally. Tattoo artists from everywhere come to ink up some of the hundreds of thousands of bikers who call the Black Hills "home" for a week. It's a chance for them to showcase their talent, network, and make some money. The vast majority of them are professional, experienced, follow sanitation and aftercare standards carefully, and genuinely care about their clients' satisfaction. However, there are a few who don't.
Do I have names? Nope, sorry. I sure don't. I only tell my own experiences, good and bad, and do not have any horror stories regarding tattoos. If I did, I would not be shy about sharing names. On the flip side, I am not shy about sharing names regarding my positive experiences.
My tattoo artist is L.J. Kostaneski at Tattoos By LJ in Rapid City, South Dakota. He did my first and only tattoo, a Creeping Jenny vine that circles my left thigh, right above the knee. He does beautiful work, and a true professional. Check out his work at http://www.tattoosbylj.com/
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not telling you NOT to get a tattoo at the Rally, I'm just telling you to be careful. There are a few things you might not have thought of.
1. Tattoo artists are very busy during the rally. This means you may not be able to get in when you want to, or even at all. Even the best artists can get tired and feel rushed. Mistakes are always a possibility, as tattooists are human, but are more likely to happen under these conditions.
2. It's harder to track down artists after the Rally. Since they come in from all over the country, they will return home after the Rally is over. After your ink has healed, are you going to have to travel across the country to get touch ups? Are you going to be able to hold on to his or her business card?
3. Let's just be frank for a moment here. I have noticed that for many people, personal hygiene, um, declines a bit during the Rally. It's ok, I'm not judging here. Personally, it takes nearly a week for me to get all the dirt and dust out of my ears and nose, and that's with being a girl and showering once a day. You cannot be careless with cleanliness when you have a new tattoo.
4. Although you will be basically living outdoors, you will need to keep that fresh ink out of the sun. Not going to be easy. Plus, if you're like me, you will want to show it off. That's a painful paradox.
5. Think about the design you want. There is nothing wrong with flash, but if you want something custom, it may cost you more than you realize. Time is money, and you may not be able to get the elaborate, custom work you want for a moderate price. It's usually best to get a simple design at the Rally.
If you come to the Black Hills before or after the Rally, you may wish to get inked then, by one of our local artists. One of my friends comes every year from Australia, and always gets his ink done either before or after the Rally, by L.J., and couldn't be happier.