Retro, Japanese-style tats are hot trend in Temple
DAVID STONE | OUR TOWN TEMPLE
A Temple tattoo studio has leased a neighboring office to expand its lobby, increase creative design space and give its artists a place to display off-the-body art such as paintings and drawings.
“This is a tattoo studio, but we are all artists,” said Chris Simmons, owner of Lucky in Love Tattoo, 2614 Exchange Plaza in Temple. “The extra space not only will allow us to expand our drawing room and give our artists more space for creating designs, it also will give us an art gallery for our paintings and other works of art.”
“Also, we want to do more screen printing and embroidering,” he said. “The extra room will give us space to create t-shirts and space to produce large, quality art prints.”
Simmons, a west Texas native who has spent years in the Temple area and now lives in Little River, has been tattooing for 22 years.
“I started a tattoo studio in Morgan’s Point nine years ago last month,” he said. “Temple had a ban on tattoo shops back then, but I moved into this location six years ago after that ban was lifted.”
His first ink creation was for his father — a horseshoe with the “Simmons” name inscribed on it — and Chris now has the same tat on his leg.
Lucky in Love Tattoo employs four full-time artists, plus an occasional guest artist, and a receptionist.
“Most of our artists do about 10 designs a week,” Simmons said. “We do quality, custom art for our customers — everyone gets the best product possible.”
Examples of Simmons’ and his artists’ work cover the walls and ceilings at Lucky in Love, giving customers inspiration for future tats.
Simmons said popular tattoo trends include retro art and Japanese-style art.
“A lot of our customers are looking for a specific, traditional tattoo such as eagles, lions, panthers — animals are popular. So are flowers. We can do black, gray and black, or bright and bold tats — whatever the customer wants”
While simple, retro images are “in,” some customers are looking for something more elaborate, Simmons said.
“People often are looking for something spiritual — a life belief,” he said. “We’ve created Egyptian-style designs, black holes with giant worm creatures — it can get creative.”
Japanese-style tattoos are expressive and bold, and they are popular in Temple and around the globe. They usually include vibrant colors, and shading makes these inkings eye-catching and exciting.
The imagery used in Japanese-style tattooing is often a way to honor folklore or tradition, and common designs are mythical beings such as dragons and phoenixes, nature, animals and the supernatural.
Simmons said his customers include a cross-section of the local population, and more than half of his clients are women.
“It’s close, but I would say more women are getting ink than men,” he said. “Tattoos are art, and they are beauty on the body — like jewelry. Women want to decorate themselves and look pretty.”
A large percentage of Lucky in Love customers come back for new ink.
“Usually they have an idea of what they are looking for, and sometimes they will bring in a visual such as a photo,” Simmons said. “They tell us where they want it, how big and color preferences. We take the reins, draw it up, and give them a great tattoo.”
“Customers know our style and want us to draw their artwork,” he said. “All four of our artists — including myself — have different styles. It’s not uncommon for a customer to get tats from all of us. They want a mix of styles.”
Simmons said not everyone who walks through the door at Lucky in Love leaves with a tattoo.
“We have high standards,” he said. “We don’t do color outlines because they won’t hold up, and we discourage tats with very small lettering.”
“And if you are drunk, we won’t give you a tat,” he said. “We can tell if you are not in the right state of mind, and we don’t want to give someone a tattoo they will regret. And if we don’t think a specific design will work, we are going to let you know.”