Owner of new Chevy Chase tattoo studio says attitudes about getting inked have changed
After tinkering with a few different courses while attending Berea College, Lucy Begley ultimately decided on an art major, but after she left the school and moved back to Lexington, she traded in her paints and paper for ink and skin.
She was drawn to the tattoo industry, and worked at a variety of parlors in town, learning the business and the practice from a number of experienced tattoo artists. But as she became more familiar with the safety and sanitary precautions required of working in a tattoo shop, she realized it was in her, and her clients’, best interest if she was in charge of her own operation.
“The more I started to learn about the industry, the more I realized the importance of the medical aspect. I felt like the shops I had been at weren’t taking things seriously enough,” she said. “The only way I can guarantee my protection and my clients’ was to have my own space.”
Begley was interested in a retail location in Chevy Chase along Tates Creek Road near Chevy Chase Hardware and Morris Book Shop, and after reworking the space to fit her studio’s needs, Blotter Ink Tattoos opened its doors in late October.
She said the location, which may seem like an unlikely spot for a tattoo shop, has a lot of advantages.
“Basically, we’re right downtown,” Begley said. “There are so many events that go on right here, it’s a very art-focused area. I like the neighborhood. It’s really nice, and there’s always foot traffic, and there’s a lot of new businesses opening here too. I wanted to jump on that bandwagon.”
Begley admits that she’s heard some grumblings about a tattoo studio opening in Chevy Chase, but she says that today, for the most part, tattoos have become a very accepted, and admired, art form and have moved beyond the previously negative stereotypes.
“I think that people are just hesitant because of the reputation tattooing has had in history. It’s really becoming a lot more artistic,” she said. “With more and more talented artists showing their skills in the industry, it’s not just for bikers, it’s for art lovers. It’s for people who have taste. It’s not just hooligans anymore.”
Along with going “above and beyond” the required certification required of an artist by being dedicated to furthering her knowledge of all the medical aspects of tattooing, Begley has also attended a number of workshops with nationally esteemed tattoo figures, such as Guy Aitchison Lyle Tuttle.
Begley says that, as an artist she finds the medium of tattooing to be very demanding, given the variety of challenges working with skin provides, but is also very rewarding, given the intimate nature and permanence of the work.
“I like trying to pull images out of other people’s minds and helping to collaborate with them and create something original that is theirs forever,” she said. “It’s really inspiring to me in the sense that I have something to give other people, and you can really see it in their faces when they are pleased with it.”
And when it comes to the actual tattoos, Begley says that every one has different tastes and approaches to what they want on their bodies.
“There’s some people who will come in that will know exactly what they want, but they don’t really have an image for me look at, some people will bring in reference photos. That makes it a little easier,” she said. “And then some people will come in and they have no idea what they want and they’ll just pick something on the wall, something already drawn. Everybody’s different.”