Sikeston is typically at the tail end of trends in the tattoo world, said Erin Thurman, owner and tattoo artist at Monster Tattoo. Currently, tribal, Old English and Oriental (Chinese and Japanese) symbols are the craze. Thurman said he looks for meanings of the tattoos and tries to have them interpreted by at least three sources, using the Internet and a friend in Japan to help verify the meanings.
At times, people will want opposites -- for instance, getting the symbol for weak and having "strong" written below. "People are constantly trying to do something different with tattoos," he said.
For girls, the most popular tattoo is a butterfly. "I do more butterflies than anything else," Thurman said. "I can't believe there's that many people that like butterflies."
Girls tend to get their tattoos on their ankles, hips and lower backs.
And for the guys, crosses and crucifixes are most in demand, while arm bands have fazed out. Common spots for males to get tattoos include the upper arms, upper back and across the shoulders.
"Most everybody tries to get something that won't be visible when they wear short sleeves to work," Thurman said.
Thurman said he tries to discourage customers from having their husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend's name tattooed on them. In the year since he has had a shop in Sikeston, he has already covered several.
The cost of a tattoo depends on the size, amount of ink and work involved. Thurman said starter tattoos, which he recommends because they aren't too large or elaborate, run from $50 to $100. The more sizable tattoos are $125 and up. Smaller tattoos that can be done in one visit are a set price, while big, intricate designs are charged by the hour.
The proper way to care for a tattoo is pretty sketchy amongst tattoo parlors. "We're all kind of clandestine, we don't like to share information with each other," Thurman said.
But he shared some of his tips. After the procedure, he covers the tattoo with a medicated band-aid, which promotes healing and keeps it out of the air. "It's basically like an open wound," Thurman said. Customers should leave the bandage on for two to 10 hours.
If the tattoo feels dry, customers should apply A and D ointment.
And there is a big list of things you shouldn't do after getting a tattoo. No picking scabs (it will pick the color out of your tattoo), no scratching or rubbing, no soaking the tattoo (but it's OK to gently cleanse it with an antibacterial soap while showering), no swimming for at least three weeks or until the tattoo has healed, and no suntanning without sunscreen -- outside or in a tanning bed.
But even if you do follow all the rules, everything may not turn out correctly. "The healing process has to go exactly right," Thurman said. Because of that, he generally offers free touch-ups.