The Intimacy of Ink, with tattoo artist and author James R. Tuck

This entry is part 9 of 15 in the series Pricked Party

I’m super awesomely, very much excited to have James R. Tuck here today! Not only is he a pretty kick ass urban fantasy author, he’s also a tattoo artist. I met him on twitter thanks to someone retweeting him, and I kinda love his tweets. I badgered him into guest blogging with us today and I’m so grateful he accepted. Tattoo artists are some of my favorite people.

I hate getting tattooed.

I do. I know that sounds silly since I am heavily tattooed. My arms are sleeved (completely covered in ink), my hands, fingers, chest, legs, fingers, throat, and skull are all tattooed. I have been a professional tattoo artist for over 16 years now. I own a tattoo shop outside of Atlanta.

But I still hate getting tattooed.

It hurts. Sometimes it hurts a LOT. The healing process sucks. I’m old.

But I love tattoos.

I love having tattoos. They are completely worth the pain and the aggravation of the process to heal them . I love the way tattoos look. I love the history. I love the artwork. I love mine and I love them on other people.

I also love tattooing. Tattooing has given me a wife, food for my children, and friends.

I also love having the ability to tattoo people. I have the single best job in the world. Not only do I get paid to do artwork and be a part of something bigger that I love so much, but I do different things every day. I also have the opportunity to change people, to mark them in a permanant way that will impact them for the rest of their lives.

Tattooing is an intimate artform. It takes place in a close environment with two people who have already shared their ideas and their creativity with each other. The client has the idea and the artist expresses it. It’s like a form of empathy, reaching into someone’s mind and spirit and pulling out a piece of artwork that symbolizes what they want to express. It a communion of souls, one person to another, a bridge that can only be crossed by the two of them. In this one way I know my clients better than anyone else in their lives ever will.

During the tattoo I am constantly touching my client. Through the process my hand is almost always on them. We humans are affectionate people, we crave contact with each other. If we don’t get it a part of us begins to wither and rust and die. I have had people cry while I’m tattooing them, not from pain, but because it is the longest that someone has spent just touching them. Most people don’t even know that they need this until it happens.

There is pain, sometimes a little, with some tattoos a lot. For brief moments it can even become excruciating. Physical pain is cathartic. It pushes us through our emotional trauma, giving us release on the other side. During the tattoo I am inflicting the pain, but I am also touching my customer and soothing them, speaking softly words of encouragement or talking to them to take their mind off the pain. Sometimes no words are needed, just my presence sitting closer to them than anyone ever does, is enough to take them away from it, to get through to the other side.

People have told me their darkest secrets, trusting me as they would a therapist or a priest. They have confessed their sins and the sins done to them. Though my life has been blessed, through them I have lived through every tragedy a human can. Lost children, broken homes, abuse, terror, and loss.

One customer came to the shop I was working at. As we began his tattoo he looked at me and said: "So the doctor told me I have lung cancer today and that I only have about a year to live. You were the first person I thought of and the first person I wanted to tell."

Rest in peace Devin.

Through all the years I have been tattooing I have learned that it is much more than ink in skin. It is a magical, mystical art that can change someone’s life. I know it has changed mine.

Author Bio:

James R. Tuck is the author of the Deacon Chalk series from Kensington. He is a former bouncer and a professional tattoo artist. He owns Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga. He lives in the Atlanta area with his wonderful wife, two wonderful children, and four wonderful dogs.

He writes the stories that keep you up at night.

Author Website:

Author Twitter:!/JamesTuckwriter

Author Facebook:

Author Blog:


A Deacon Chalk e-novella

By: James R. Tuck

Release Date: June 26 2012

Publisher: Kensington Books


He lives to kill monsters. He keeps his city safe. And his silver hollow-points and back-from-the-dead abilities take out any kind of unnatural threat. But between this bad-ass bounty hunter and rescuing the most helpless of victims stands the one evil he can’t defeat…

For Deacon Chalk, loyalty is worth dying for. And now that something has taken were-spider Charlotte’s un-hatched children and one of his closest friends, he’ll tear up the human and supernatural underworlds to find them. But with his allies stripped away by an invincible Yakuza hit man and time running out, Deacon must face down the most ancient of demonic entities. And his last hope means surrendering to the inner darkness waiting hungrily to consume him …




Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter book 2

By: James R. Tuck

Release Date: August 7 2012

Publisher: Kensington


He hasn’t met a monster yet that could give him a scare. With ice in his veins, silver hollow-points in his chambers, and an innate ability to rise from the dead, what’s to fear? The answer may be something he doesn’t want to face. . .

Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer. . .until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any humans in their way. Suddenly, Deacon is outnumbered, outgunned, and unsure who–or what–to trust. The only edge he has left is a weapon hungry for his soul and his most savage impulses. And using it will exact a price even this hell-raising hunter fears to pay. . .

"This is urban fantasy as men’s fiction―Sookie Stackhouse meets the Dresden Files by way of Maxim." Publishers Weekly



Series Navigation<< Tattooed Man Candy with Cynthia SaxThe tattoos in Under His Skin >>

15 thoughts on “The Intimacy of Ink, with tattoo artist and author James R. Tuck

  1. Jayne says:

    I’m endlessly impressed with tattoo artists. It takes such a high level of confidence to permanently mark someone in that way. It’s an unbelievably intimate thing to spend so much time and share so much of yourself with someone. You’re trusting them to bring your vision of your body art to life in a way you’ll never regret. I’ve known several tattoo artists through the years, and I guess I sort of took it for granted that they love what they do. It’s good to hear it first hand.
    Jayne recently posted..Guest Author – Cynthia SaxMy Profile

  2. S.J. Drum says:

    I think my favorite part of getting a tattoo or piercing is the healing. Is that weird? For a few days to a few weeks, the pain is a constant reminder that I’m alive. Even watching TV is a new experience for the duration of healing. If I sit on the couch and feel discomfort from the new tattoo, it’s a reminder. My heart speeds and I see my environment in a new way. I can definitely see how a tattoo artist is similar to a therapist.

  3. Cynthia Sax says:

    I agree. It is the ultimate artform, works of art placed on a living canvas. So beautiful.

    You MUST have some crazy stories, James.
    What is the crazies thing you’ve ever seen?
    And do you use some of these stories in your books?
    Cynthia Sax recently posted..Tattooed TrystMy Profile

  4. Jan Springer says:

    Great guest blog, Sid! It’s great to meet James. His books sound intriguing! And I love his tattoo pics and book cover. Nice!
    Congratulations on your release today too!


  5. Fedora says:

    Wow, great to meet you, James–thanks for sharing a bit about your work. I can see how the tattoo process is truly one of trust, and that a good partnership produces art. Congrats on finding your niche as an artist and writer!

  6. Anya Richards says:

    I’m in the process of saving up for my first tattoo. I’m old (or older, anyway!), from a very conservative family, so it’s not something I even contemplated before. But as I age I’m suddenly in need of a way to connect myself to the past and yet also look to the future. I’ve always been fascinated by the symbols people put on their bodies, want to stop and ask strangers what their ink means, and what it means to them, so soon I’ll be the one making others wonder about the strange talisman I’m wearing so proudly on my skin.

    • Sidney says:

      The girl who did most of my tattoos said that a lot of her customers were over 40 and getting their first tattoos. And I can totally say that of the people who approach me about mine are older than I am and have often expressed that they wanted one when they were younger but waited.

      I get a lot of people coming up to me to explain mine. It’s a fun way to meet people and strike up conversation. What’s not fun is that people feel free to rearrange my clothing to see the tattoos. That’s not always approriate. Had a guy look down the back of my dress once. WTF???
      Sidney recently posted..The Intimacy of Ink, with tattoo artist and author James R. TuckMy Profile

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