Portrait of a Tattoo Artist,How to survive as an Artist

by davideubank on February 7th, 2008

Barbara Guran-Eubank

Four years ago Artist Barbara Guran-Eubank had enough; struggling to balance her day job, family, health and artistic carreer. 40 plus hours a week as a computer applications specialist for a local hospital was more stress than reward. Barbara had worked in glass for years and had a large project, a window for an indoor fish pond on her table for nearly a year. Life was just plan too tiring to work on it. Barbara had also had two incidences of cancer which seemed now under control when she went in for a skin check up and got floored. Melanoma; that mole just above her left breast was cancerous. Surgery was quickly scheduled and the area was removed. Barbara say’s it was on her left side because that is the woman, the female side of the body and that it was a wake up call to start taking care of the woman in her. Stress of a never ending job dealing with software confined to a cubical without a view at her office just wasn’t going to cut it any longer. She had had a back injury years ago that had also required surgery that had left scars physically and emotionally for years. She had heard of women who had gotten Tattoos over top of scars that where healing totems. So she designed her first Tattoo and went to a local shop and had it placed over the scar on her back. She had incorporated the scar into a lotus blossom in the design and now what had been a painful reminder of the injury and the following events was now a beautiful design. She told her husband that she thought she could become a Tattoo Artist, that all of her shills as an artist and desire to work with people could be a new venture in her quest to be a full time working and successful artist. Her husband and I will confess that it is me, was in shock. I really didn’t know what to say. I thought, this will pass as ideas and often do. Especially radical ideas and I thought this idea was radical for a forty something year old woman with one nice tattoo as her only experience. So I gave her the only advice I could think of and said, well find somebody to teach you how to Tattoo and research the business possibilities. And she did. I had been out of town working and when I got home she broke it to me as gently as she could. She had found a school where she could learn the art of tattoo. She had researched the business end and had a plan. And she decided to take her retirement money as well as some other resources and finance the plan. The only words that I could get out of my mouth were, Go for It! I knew she was desperate, her health issues had brought up the reality that if you do not do what you really want to now, you may never be able to do it. And she did do it, she became a Tattoo Artist and has had her own shop now for three years and is doing well. It did come slow; she went to the school and learned the basics of the trade. I helped her build a studio in the back of our house where she started part time, still working at her day job. After 6 months she decided to work half time, still maintaining her health care benefits. She got two clean cancer check ups and to date has been cancer free for four years. So she decided that it was time to go for it, all the way, quit the day job and work for her self. She has worked hard and has earned her old salary every week since she opened full time. She has expanded the shop and added an Art Gallery where she exhibits fine art. Her customers love it. While they lay on the table getting Inked they gaze at all of the painting and photographs that cover the walls. Barbara uses all of her skill as an artist in the practice of Tattoo. Design, drawing and color. Although most of the time it is more like graphic design, where the client comes to you with a concept, you as the artist have to make that concept a reality. You then have to produce a finished piece, but your canvas is the skin. Then there is the business side of the operation, with marketing, accounting and general management. I think the biggest problem she faced was insurance liability. Our local State farm insurance company after years of doing business with them cancelled our home owner’s policy, because we had a business on the property. It was very difficult to; but not impossible to get insured again. It seems that the insurance companies do not want to provide home business owners with insurance if you have foot traffic. What that means is, if you have a studio in your home, where people come in, they will not insure you, at least not in Montana. Her solution was to insure the property as a business and we became renters. It did cost about four times what a home owners policy costs and you have to have the right zoning on the property, which she did. After talking to dozens of agents this was, all of their positions on home business. She had to go to an independent agent who was willing to do the necessary work to find the right kind of insurance. Most agents were unwilling to put in the extra effort. Over all Barbara’s life satisfaction and her needs as an artist have merged and she is healthy and happy and very busy. Her solution is certainly a new path for her and it was creative in idea and practice. I am not suggesting that every one should become a Tattoo Artist but rather you have to find the right fit for yourself as an artist. Today with all of the new technology and the way everyone receives information there are unlimited possibilities that can work for you. It is that old cliché, thinking outside the box or get rid of the box altogether. Creative outlets are everywhere today and you can reinvent your self and be successful. So throw away those old ideas and tactics that have failed you and find new ones, new ones that will work for you. Be happy now because it is the only time we all have. Visit Barbara’s website and find out more.



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