Visual Space: Fuse Tattoo

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Waiting for us at the studio were the people behind Fuse. Owners Ozmund, Freuland, and I an were there along with artist Gen and their apprentice Jon, to give us a brief background on the store, and a few things a tattoo virgin has to consider before going under the needle. These were the people who got together and decided to put up a tattoo studio. When I asked them how they got around to putting up a studio, they explained that they were just a bunch of classmates who happened to get tattoos, and one day figured, since they enjoyed it so much, to make a little business of it. It took them a year of planning, but once things started to roll, things speeded up, and just last December 15, Fuse Tattoo Studio opened its doors to the public. They themselves don’t come from artistic backgrounds; they leave the art to their artists; and as their portfolio shows, the artists they do have are top-notch.

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One of the biggest questions people looking to get ink done revolves around the pattern they should have done. The guys from Fuse offered simple advice: “You have to get something that has meaning to you; something that you really find interesting:’ It is something that is going to be there forever, as long as you are concerned, so it had better be relevant. They do, however, go out of their way to say that it’s no problem if you want to get something done just because you think it looks cool. It’s a piece of art, and if you enjoy looking at it, then that’s a pretty good reason to get it done. They have had clients who want a tattoo, but have no pattern in mind. The artists are very willing and more than capable of helping you pick a design and tweak it until it looks exactly the way you want it. As far as the design goes, there really isn’t any limit as to how detailed, large or intricate it is; at least on paper. The limiting factor becomes the pain when the needle starts hitting the skin, particularly when blending colors. The artist will have to make several passes on some areas in order to get the shading and colors just right. This means that areas that have already been wounded will get hit again, and as the minutes pass, it gets more and more tender. If you’re a first timer, it might be a good idea to stay away from joints, ribs and the neck, and even if you’ve had ink done before, the hands and feet won’t be much fun. Other than those, it’s very likely you’ve had a scrape or bruise far more painful than a tattoo artist’s needle. They did warn me of two things: first, a tattoo will inevitably need retouching. Colored tattoos in particular will need a retouch after about three years; longer if you take care to avoid sun exposure, or protect it with sun block. Black and gray ones will last about twice as long if cared for. Second: tattoos are addictive. Very few people stop at just one.

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Tattoos have had a pretty negative rap in the recent past, but lately, it has started to get acceptance. The guys all agreed that mainstream media, pop artists and actors getting tattoos has brought the art into the mainstream, and have turned it into a fashion thing more than what conservatives think is a gang mark or badge. “As a matter of fact;’ Oz said,”very many of our clients are just under 30. They know what they want and have had time to think about it, as well as the means to get it done:’ The negative mentality that used to surround tattoos is slowly fading. There was a time though, not long ago, that tattooing wasn’t the easiest thing to do. As recently as the late 90s, tattoo artists had to rely on home-made equipment and raw talent to get the job done. Back then, there was no regulation, and hygiene codes were little more than a quick wipe of alcohol.

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Now though, the entire scene is regulated. There is a Tattoo Artist’s Guild here in the Philippines that serves as a way to constantly update skills and knowledge, as well as closely monitor the health and safety of the clients. Membership to the guild is achieved through a very strict set of criteria, not the least of which is a talent test that is judged by the eagle eyes of highly competent guild members. The tools are also purpose-built, and make up a particularly large investment on the side of the artist and shop. Shops are also regulated, and must comply to Department of Health standards in order to gain accreditation. You no longer have to go to a shady tattoo studio in the dangerous part of the city to get your tattoo; Fuse even has an internet connection and a few shows you can watch to help you find just the design you are looking for. Shops like Fuse, which comply with all the health and safety standards set by the government, are another reason behind steady acceptance of the art in society today. Another effect of the acceptance of tattoos is price.

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Because there are more shops, prices start to get more competitive. Another reason Fuse was put up was because they wanted to offer their services at a reasonable price to anyone interested. A 2×3″ black and gray tattoo at their studio will cost PHP 1,500, while a colored one ofthe same size will set you back PHP 2,500. While they cannot stray too far from the average price due to guild agreements, it’s great value. They do, however, rather let their portfolio do the talking for them. Their main artist, Papa Dhong, has a very impressive gallery of portraits and other highly realistic designs, while Gen also does portraits and is their go-to guy for oriental tattoos.

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So is it time for you to get some art work done on your body? Unfortunately, we can’t give you the answer to that question. If you do decide to get it done, at least you now have a better idea about what you’re doing.

If you’re curious about tattoos or want to take a look at what they can do for you, check Fuse Tattoo Studio out at www.facebook.com/fusetattoo, or give them a call at 484-0217.

Words by Ren Alcantara

First published in Gadgets Magazine, March 2013