Lucky David Singletary
Lucky David Singletary (David to his friends) has been a professional tattoo artist for 15 years. He grew up in San Francisco, moved to Chico with his family, then, after moving around for a few years, returned to Chico in 1993 to help take care of his mother. In 1994, he started Sacred Art Tattoo in downtown Chico, which he still owns and operates, although it recently moved from being next door to Lost On Main to one side of the old Tower Records.
What first interested you in tattoos?
I’ve been going into tattoo shops since I was a little kid. I gave myself my first tattoo: a spider web on my elbow. That was with all homemade materials. If you count from my first tattoo, you could say that I’ve been tattooing for 25 years, but I’ve only been doing it professionally for 15. I remember the first tattoo I did professionally was a martini glass on this guy’s arm.
How did you start your career as a tattoo artist?
I went into an apprenticeship, which I suppose is the right way to do it. I don’t really want to give out names or anything, because it wasn’t a real apprenticeship. The woman just charged me a lot of money and turned me loose, and that’s not how it should be done.
Do you take on apprentices?
I have taken apprentices in the past. The most recent one was my son, but I haven’t taken on any more since then, and I don’t really plan to. I haven’t seen anyone that has proven themselves. An apprenticeship should be earned, not bought. There are a lot of people around that get into the tattoo business for the wrong reasons. They just want to make money. They don’t know or care about the history.
Do you offer tattoo removal services?
I wanted to, and I looked into it. But the laser cost $87,000, and in the state of California only a licensed doctor or nurse can operate it. I could have rented one out for about $2,000 a month; but unless I had a huge clientele list, there’s no point.
Why do you think people get tattoos?
Well, today I think the reasons have changed. Now a tattoo is more of a fashion accessory. There are new pigments now that come off a lot easier. Tattoos are still permanent, but not to the same degree that they used to be. It used to be that people thought more about what they were getting, instead of today, when it’s whatever is cool at the time. Personally, I’m about 80 percent covered. My tattoos are more like travel marks of what I was doing at the time.