Loveland’s oldest tattoo shop is now under new management. Alex Oram, who worked as a tattoo artist at Lady of the Lake Tattoos at 1718 W. Eisenhower Blvd. in Loveland for a year, is set to become the senior manager of the boutique, which he will now co-own with former owner Melody Davis.
Oram says he has big plans for the shop, which has been a Loveland staple since it opened 25 years ago, which include updating the interior and hopefully making it more of a community center .
The Reporter-Herald caught up with Oram as he takes on this new responsibility to talk to him about these planned changes, his vision for the shop and whether getting a tattoo is as painful as people say.
Name: Alex Oram
Occupation: Tattoo artist and co-owner of Lady of the Lake Tattoos in Loveland
How long in Loveland: He grew up in California but has been going back and forth to Loveland for a while now and has worked at Lady of the Lake Tattoos for a year.
1. Does it hurt to get a tattoo?
Yes, they hurt. But it’s not an intolerable pain. There’s a reason people come for it. It’s a version of sorts for sure. It’s ink therapy, you know? Honestly, I think it’s because people like to come here and (complain) while they get tattooed. We learn to hear people’s life stories over and over again. And what I’ve been told about our store compared to other stores is that we’re much more laid back. It’s not that steep. Everyone tells me how crazy it is here because they come, they hang out and they can listen to music and have lunch with us. I like to believe that we go as far as possible for them.
2. Do you think there is a tattoo culture that plays a role in their popularity?
It’s definitely one of those things where people want to live vicariously. I think it’s a huge thing that plays with pain. I think, from what I’ve heard from people, they like to come here because we have a different way of life. Me in particular, I’m from the streets (in LA) and people like to live vicariously and learn about that side of life.
3. Like many tattoo artists, a lot of your visible skin is covered in tattoos. How do people tend to react to this?
I am a young old soul and have always had tattoos since I was young. I walk around and there is still a bit of hate. Well maybe not hate, but I guess fear is the word. But I still get the dirty looks and stuff. But in terms of the mainstreaming of tattoos I think that’s something that’s definitely changing and (they’re) more and more accepted than they used to be to the point where it’s now quite easy for people to find a job (when they have tattoos). In California, everyone is tattooed and (whether it is) the face, the head, the hands, whatever. But here in Colorado, it was a little different with the jobs. But I think it happens here too. Cops, nurses, military, they’re all getting tattoos now.
4. Do you plan to make any changes to the store now that you’re taking it over?
In California, the tattoo parlor in my neighborhood had a barber shop vibe. But in the past (Lady of the Lake) was all about business and you couldn’t be here unless you got a tattoo. I don’t want it to be like this. I want it to be a safe area for everyone. If there are people who come to hang out because they need a safe place, I agree. So we have a small room in which I put a TV, tables for everyone to relax. As I slowly pick it up, we begin to redo the interior of the shop. We want to have a pool table and arcade games.
We also try to work with the community and everything. If we can help anyone, we will. We are sponsoring a little boy to ride a skateboard. Slowly but surely we are trying to reach out to the community somehow outside of allowing people to come and be safe here. And they do. People love that. They’ll just hang out with us.
5. What would you like people to know about the tattoo world?
I think the hardest issue we have is price and it’s because people don’t understand why tattoos are expensive. If I can get one thing across, it’s that tattoos are expensive for them because they’re expensive for us. At the low end, for a good machine, you’re going to pay $400 or $500. Needle cartridges are expensive.
According to the tattoo, we can easily use only $100 worth of materials and it’s all thrown away for the most part, so it’s not like we can reuse it and save money. The other thing is when a client comes in, he comes in here, he gets a tattoo and then he leaves, so he doesn’t see all the prep work that goes into it, all the cleaning that goes into it and how much hours we spend drawing the tattoo. I just got a tattoo on Saturday and I was talking to the guy and I said, “Before you even got here, it took me six hours already.” It’s between design and implementation. Then you have to take everything apart, run things through the autoclave, and make sure everything is neat and clean. There are a lot more things to do than people think.
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