Before you let any artist touch you, you need to know something about them
Question: Is your Ink & tattoo machines sterilized?
Gary: Yes, we offer single service, sterilized pigments. First to do so in Nebraska many years ago. When you choose sterilized ink, we open a new sterile bottle for each color of your tattoo. This is very different that reopening a previously opened bottle hundreds and thousands of times and then placing it on a shelf to use again. The health dept or the FDA does not regulate inks artists use. A new bottle of sterilized ink, for each tattoo, is a much better standard. If your tattoo has six colors in it, six brand new bottles of ink are used. Sterile ink is a much safer way to tattoo.
Tattoo machines likewise should be sterilized. In order to sterilize a tattoo machine, it needs to be an air driven machine. "Air driven" like a dental tool is air driven. Electric machines, pictured here, the machines used by most artists, cannot be sterilized. Not acceptable for the standards set at Guns 2 Roses. In our 27th street studio with tens of thousands of procedures, we never once used electric machines. 14 & P street, never used them. North 48th street, never. 1st & O street, in our new studio (the biggest, brightest, largest cubic foot studio in Nebraska devoted to a single artist) we will never use an electric machine on anyone. Electric machines cannot be sterilized. Let me repeat, electric machines are not as clean. You can eat off of air driven machines. They are that clean.
Question: Do you numb procedures, and what steps do you take to minimize discomfort and speed healing times?
Gary: Every VIP procedure from the simplest piercing to the largest tattoo is always numbed for the clients' comfort. We never spray the procedure area with anything that causes pain or discomfort like alcohol solutions or detergent solutions. Most tattoo shops use a detergent once used by hospitals called Green Soap. Hospitals quit using this product some 30 years ago because it has been replaced with better products, and we have followed the hospitals lead using these newer products for client skin care.
Healing times are lowered by the use of special needles to reduce discomfort, lower healing times, and also make the ink flow in easier. I cannot go into detail, and give away trade secrets, but the health dept knows what type of needles we use, and there is nothing finer, or safer for the skin.
Guns 2 Roses gives away the proper aftercare products for all their VIP procedures, right down to the soap to wash your body arts with. Some piercings take up to a year to heal, and we will give each client a one years supply of aftercare for that reason. No other studio gives away free aftercare for a year, we even give away free aftercare if you did not get your body arts in our studio. We want everyone to heal correctly, so when we see someone in need, we gladly help them as much as we can. We have given away thousands of free aftercare kits to anyone that asks for help.
If you are working on the cheep, and want pierced, we can treat you like other shops do around the country. Twenty bucks, in and out fast, few jewelry choices, no numbing, no micro needles, no aftercare. Do you really want treated like that? If you want a twenty dollar piercing, we offer our basic service, but we recommend our VIP service.
Question: Do you use all disposables, or do you reuse things like tubes, tips, and grips? The health dept requires everyone doing procedures to use new needles, but how about the things they do not require you change for every client?
Gary: Yes, we change everything with brand new equipment, every time. No exceptions. New needles as you say, as required by the health laws, but we also use a new tube holding the needle, we do NOT just clean the old ones and reuse them. That is not clean enough in this day and age of Hep C and Prions. We also change the tip, even more important, and the grip. We also change the tension band, put on a new barrier bag that covers the machine, tube, tip, grip, band, and supply tube 100%.
Question: Do you have lots of jewelry choices for my new and existing piercings?
Gary: We have more body jewelry than all the other studios in Nebraska combined. Remember, I started out in this business a traditional jeweler, so if you want real gold and real diamonds, we have them in stock. We have over 10,000 pieces of jewelry in our studio and many of these are displayed in our 16 traditional jewelry cases in our lobby. Any one case has more than most other tattoo/piercing studios. Why such a large selection? Why not! Our rows of department store display cases is longer than 40 feet, stocked full of body jewelry. If you looked all day, you could not see it all.
Because I am a jeweler with over 25 years expirence, I also custom make jewelry, and custom fit jewelry. We will make you comfortable in your jewelry choices.
Question: How many years have you been in business?
Gary: I have owned and operated businesses in Nebraska from jewelry stores to appliances stores to a Little King restaurant for over thirty years. I started several businesses in my dorm room in college back in 1978. I started Guns 2 Roses over ten years ago, out of a need for people to get safe clean body work done by OSHA standardized principles. When I started, the health dept was not involved in body arts. It was at my insistence over concerns about the shops operating at the time on 48th street, one of them selling drug glass while tattooing, that led to cleaner shops that are controlled by the health dept. The shops I was so worried about then, were closed by the new health dept laws.
Question: How many procedures have you done?
Gary: I have done over 35,000 (thirty five thousand) procedures in my licensed studios. I have NEVER done a tattoo or piercing in a persons home, across a kitchen table, or basement or garage. My first body arts shop was at 33rd & Holdrege on the corner of The University of Nebraska, north campus, opened in 1998 as a jewelry store. I had moved from Beatrice where I had a successful jewelry business for ten years, Beatrice Jewelry & Loan. The business was later renamed Pawn Mart, and in 1998, we moved to Lincoln. After we switched to body arts from a traditional jewelry store, we switched the name to Guns 2 Roses. Guns is a slang name for a tattoo machine, and Roses is one of the most popular tattoos over the past 100 years. Hence the name, Guns 2 Roses.
Question: Are you vaccinated against Hepatitis B?
Gary: Yes Every body artists should be, but no requirements force artists to get vaccinated. It is quite possible for someone not immunized for Hep B to infect a client while getting body arts, so we feel all artists should get the Hep B immunization.
Question: What other safeguards do you have in your shop to keep your customers safe from Hepatitis, HIV and other blood borne pathogens?
Gary: We use hospital grade all stainless autoclaves. Plastic autoclaves are not as safe because the plastic on the outside cannot be cleaned to a medical standard. We also clean with high pressure, high heat steam on our floors and counters. Ozone is used to eradicate Prions, and to our knowledge, we are the only body arts studio in the nation with an industrial grade ozone machine. We use a glass bead sterilizer along with our autoclave to double and triple clean instruments and customer jewelry. We use OSHA approved Antimicrobial Tuberculocial Disinfectant Cleaner on hard surfaces like floors and counters. We also use solutions based upon silver. Silver cleaning solutions are effective at killing about anything that wants to invade the human body. Silver solutions are the most expensive available today, but the health of our clients make the expense necessary.
Question: What friends, or business relationships do you have with other people in the tattoo world?
Gary: I was the center judge for two events and a judge for a third event at Mario Barth's Worlds Largest Tattoo Convention outside New York City in 2005. To be a judge at the worlds première tattoo show on the planet was a great honor, and to do it three times in one show as a guest artist (also tattooed at that invitation only event) was a highlight of my tattoo carrier. I am friends with Lyle Tuttle, that I met at the convention. I have done business with Rand Johnson of Cherry Creek Tattoo Flash, who has a positive comment on our testimonials page. I have done business with Carson Hill, one of the worlds best tattoo artists, as his world wide distributor of his original air tattoo machine. Do you think Carson Hill would have let me be his world wide distributor of his machine if he did not like my tattooing? I sold machines all over the world for Carson before many in the industry gave his machine much notice. I have friendships with several tattoo shop owners from England to Omaha.
Question: What is the farthest someone has traveled to get a tattoo by you?
Gary: Most of my customers travel all the way from one of the local college campuses. That is 95% of my business. I also serve all the local high schools and Junior Highs, as we are licensed to perform body arts on minors with a parents permission. However I have one client that has seen me twice from India. The first time she was visiting someone here, and I did a cover-up for her. The next time, she made a special trip to Nebraska just to get work done by me. I have tattooed and pierced people from all over the world, and from most of the fifty states including Alaska and Hawaii.
Question: Have you ever been in trouble with the law or the health dept?
Gary. No, nothing beyond a speeding ticket in 2000 for nine over. Thank God for stop class! In stop class the instructor admitted because of my large truck, the radar gun provably picked up my truck rather than the 2 cars passing me. O well, I enjoyed the class. I teach tattoo safety for the State of Nebraska, Dept of Corrections. To do that, I have access to inmates in Nebraska correctional facilities, and in doing so, my background was extensively checked to obtain the clearances needed to walk among the inmates.
I have never been written up for a violation of a major health code, in either my body arts stores or my Little King restaurant.
Question: Have you ever taught body arts?
Gary: Also, I have had many apprentices over the years. My feeling is no one should be allowed to tattoo until they have worked in a licensed shop, over 5,000 hours. That is over two years if they apprentice full time, four years part time. That is how the best artists learn, by never doing anything they are not already suited for the task to do, before they do it.
I also teach tattoo safety for the State of Nebraska, Dept of Corrections. I lecture to staff and inmates of the states correctional facilities on the dangers of tattooing inside the prisons. I also answer questions about tattooing safety from the inmates.
Question: Are their tattoos and piercings you will not do?
Gary: Yes. I never have done a back piece, sleeve, face tattoo, front of a neck. I have never done a gang tattoo. I never do piercings that cannot be easily be removed by the person wearing them. I never do dermals, preferring to do my own invented piercing I call an Outplant. My Outplant looks like a dermal, but nothing stays in the skin when the customer easily removes the piercing. Dermals are against the law in about 40 states, (except the backwards state of Nebraska) People in other states are in jail, state prisons for doing dermals, because it is practicing medicine without a license. For some reason, Nebraska is not acting out in the best interest of the public in this regard.
I am not big on names of spouses and lovers. That almost never ends well. I do them, but I try to talk everyone out of it. Mom, or children's names are a good idea.
Question: Is it true tattoos and piercings are addictive?
Yes, it is true, body arts can be addictive. However, they do not have to be, if done correctly. If you go to a body artist that is covered in body arts, that person is a good example of addicted. If you follow his lead, his direction, in things you see and notice, and the things you DO NOT SEE AND NOTICE, you will likewise most likely also become addicted. Can two walk together, lest they be agreed? As the thousands of years old saying goes.
Body arts are like anything else, they can be done correctly, or incorrectly. There are many ways things can seem to be correct, but upon close inspection, things are less than ideal.
As my clients mentor, I always do body arts in a way that tends not to become addictive. Case in point: I numb my clients. Numbing means the body is less impacted on many levels, thus making the procedure less addictive.
My tattoos tend to be smaller. More discrete. This also makes the wearer less addicted to body arts.
Piercing done to the extreme, can also become addictive, but unlike tattoos, piercings can be easily be removed without the long term effects like tattoos.
Question: Do you have a favorite artist?
There are several that I admire for the work they put out. On my links page, I have many of them listed.