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A Really Great Tattoo Experience

I just got my tat covered up, and had was basically amounts to my first tattoo. The original was 'In Ardua Petit,' my family motto, and was just plain text about the size of a couple of quarters. It took twenty minutes, and six months later it looked like crap. The place I got it done was in my hometown, and has since gone out of business (a good thing, I say – the guy was a bad artist and it was my own stupid fault for going there and getting such a bad tat).

So now, three years later, I finally had a design that I knew I wanted. I went online and talked to a bunch of people, and decided that the place I wanted to go was Live Once Tattoos. They've got the artists' portfolios on their website, so I was able to browse on my own time. I particularly appreciated this option, because I'm kind of shy and didn't like the thought of standing around in the actual shop.

I went in on a Monday, talked to the receptionist/helper dude, and met Joel. Everyone in the shop was really friendly, lots of smiles and everyone seemed really happy to be there. The customers that I saw looked excited and delighted. The shop set-up is great: each artist has their own room, but the doors are all kept open and the main hallway is really wide and inviting. The front area has couches and a more complete version of each artist's work.

Anyway, the guys were really nice to me. I had a lot of drawings and variations, and Joel looked at them all and together we figured out what would be best. He talked me into colour, which I had toyed with but I'm not the kind of person who can visualize it, so I just trusted him.

I left him with the sketches and made an appointment with the helper dude, and he told me a maximum price range. I thought this was great – a guarantee that my tat would NOT cost more than what they told me. He also told me it would take about three hours.

I came back on the Friday with my friend T, who also wanted a tat but was too afraid. She wanted to watch mine to see how it went.

Joel showed me his sketch, and it was FANTASTIC. I was totally excited, and I could tell he was getting excited too. We all went into his room, and he got me all set up. Just seeing the press-on outline on my back was amazing! Joel sat me down, gave T a nice comfy chair, and got to work.

I have to say, I didn't handle it well. I couldn't believe the difference in pain from the other one I got (that I was actually covering up). The tat is on my lower back, and within twenty minutes I had passed out. T said that Joel noticed right away, and asked her to gently wake me up. I came right to, and he stopped for about ten minutes to make sure I was okay. Joel got me some water, and calmed me down, and gave me some time alone to suck it up. When he got back, he gave me his PSP and stuck in Open Season for a distraction, which I thought was really nice of him.

Throughout the next three hours, I shook, clenched, breathed incredibly heavily, and cried and snotted all over his workbench. He was SO nice to me, and T said that throughout my trembling and deep breathing he kept really steady on my back. She said she watched him change all of the needles, and was really happy with how clean everything was, and how thorough and careful he was being. For my part, I was pretty out of it, but I know that Joel kept telling me that it was okay to cry, that he had much the same reaction when he got his lower back done, and that I was doing great. He kept a running tally of how many colours I had left.

Joel and T (and later S, another friend of mine who showed up halfway through) joked and laughed, which helped me because it was distracting. I couldn't really join in because I was too busy crying, but it did help. Joel is a smart guy, and seems very well-versed on quite a few subjects, so it was cool to listen in. He was telling T and S all about tattooing, and describing the various skin types and weird practises. I do remember they were discussing eyeball tattooing and glow-in-the-dark tattoos, which Joel said they don't do because it's too experimental and Live Once wants to be sure that everything they do for their customers is 100% safe.

The door was wide open during all of this, so the other artists would occasionally pop in and say hi, and check out what Joel was doing. They were all great people, and the artists all seemed to have a great relationship with each other. It was all very relaxed, and friendly.

So three very painful hours later, we were done! It looked fantastic, and it still does! I could NOT be more pleased – it's so, so awesome.

Joel was totally stoked by the piece, and paraded me around the shop (once I had mostly stopped shaking, and assured him I was fine) to show the other artists. Everyone was so supportive, and a couple asked me if I was okay (which I was!), and the other guys were all really proud of Joel and his work. The other rooms all looked as clean as Joel's, and despite the walls everything felt really open.

Joel did an absolutely PHENOMENAL job on my tat, and we were both thrilled with how it turned out. I had some very minimal bleeding, and now, a little over a week later, it's very tender (like a bad sunburn) but I couldn't be happier. I'm going back in a couple weeks so Joel can get some pictures of it when it's healed, and since I'll be more coherent, I'm going to tell him what a great job he did.

Overall, my Live Once Tattoo experience could not have been better (unless I could've somehow got an elaborate, gorgeous tat minus the pain!). Joel was a great artist, and I would definitely recommend him to anyone. My friend T, who was terrified of the thought of a painful tattoo, has decided she's going to go back to Joel in a couple of months with her boyfriend to get hers done, and S is now seriously considering getting hers done, and has already said she would definitely go to Joel.

If you're in North Bay, and want a clean, supportive place to get a beautiful tattoo, I would recommend Live Once Tattoos 100%. Joel is a great guy, and an amazing artist, and I had an excellent time despite the pain.


submitted by: Anonymous
on: 21 Oct. 2008
in Tattoos

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Artist: Joel
Studio: Live+Once+Tattoos
Location: North+Bay%2C+ON

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