Ink fast

A local tattoo artist is attempting to break the world record for the most tattoos completed in a 24-hour period

Jason Freeman, owner of Triumph Tattoo, is attempting to break the world record for most tattoos done in a 24-hour period. The current record is 801.

Jason Freeman, owner of Triumph Tattoo, is attempting to break the world record for most tattoos done in a 24-hour period. The current record is 801.

Photo By amy beck

Triumph Tattoo is located at 241 West Second St. For more information, visit

The current Guinness World Record for the most tattoos done by a single artist in a 24-hour period is 801. That record was set on Nov. 16, 2008, by Hollis Cantrell of Artistic Tattoo in Phoenix, Ariz.

Jason Freeman of Triumph Tattoo in Reno is aiming for 804 tattoos in his upcoming attempt to break that world record, starting at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 14.

The history of the record is short. An original record of 400 tattoos was set by Kat Von D, celebrity TV star tattooist, in December 2007. She inked an “L.A.” logo she designed onto willing participants. Less than a year later, on Friday, June 13, 2008, Von D’s ex-husband, Oliver Peck, broke her record by tattooing 415 lucky number 13s. (A little rivalry, perhaps?) About four months after that, his record was shattered by Derek Kastning of Tyler, Texas who tattooed black and blue stars on enough people to come up with 726 in 24 hours. Just 5 days later, his record was topped, with 775 tattoos by John McManus, who held the title for a mere two weeks before Cantrell, the current title holder, broke his record.

Since then, no one has been able to top Cantrell. Jeremy Swan of Silver Lake Tattoo claims to have done 875 tattoos in a 24-hour period, but his record is not recognized by Guinness.

Record-ing artist

Freeman says he decided to do this for “personal gratification, mainly just the challenge of the whole thing. I want to be able to do really clean tattoos.”

It’s a big endeavor—not only physically but mentally as well. It’s not just completing the number of tattoos, but doing it under extreme circumstances such as sleep deprivation, and holding a tattoo gun in the same hand for the majority of 24 hours—just think about writing for 24 hours straight and imagine what would happen to your hand and arm muscles.

When asked if there was anything he was really worried about, Freeman responded, “Power failure. It would really suck if the power went off. That would instantly kill the whole challenge.”

He’s also concerned about getting the number of people to come out and get tattooed. Luckily, he doesn’t have to tattoo 802 different people. Anyone can get as many tattoos as they like and each one counts toward the total.

“If I could get people to even get two tattoos, that would be such a help,” says Freeman. “I’m pretty confident that I can do the tattoos. But, I’m not kidding myself, I’m nervous for sure.”

However, he’s more nervous about things outside of his control and with meeting all the Guinness guidelines so that, if he does in fact break the record, it will be recognized.

These guidelines include things like:

“This record is to be attempted by an individual.”

“Each tattoo must cover an area of at least 24cm2.” (That’s approximately 1.25 x 3 inches.)

“Witnesses must have experience with tattoo techniques. These individuals must judge whether each finished tattoo is of a suitable standard.”

“The event is continuous. The clock does not stop.” Twenty-four hours means a complete 24-hour cycle including rest breaks.

“Two experienced timekeepers must time the attempt with stopwatches accurate to 0.01 seconds.”

“The entire attempt must be filmed in case further evidence is required.”

Angela Watson, of Black Hole Body Piercing, has taken on the task of managing the volunteers—of which there are about 30—who have agreed to help Freeman with the challenge and make sure all the guidelines are met. Nobody from Guinness will be there, so it has to be documented properly.

Volunteers will be taking care of paperwork, checking people in and getting proper documentation. Freeman will work with four stations, continuously feeding people into the chairs. One team of volunteers—made up of Triumph Tattoo artists—will prep each station, apply stencils, and give verbal aftercare instructions to each person receiving a tattoo. Another team will be logging each tattoo and participant. Witnesses, from other tattoo shops, will check each tattoo. Every tattoo will be photographed and an official notary public will be signing everyone into a logbook.

“We have Washoe County regulations that we still have to follow,” emphasizes Watson. “We need to make sure that each person has filled out a release form, has a copy of their ID, and that they receive written and oral aftercare. He will never make his goal if he has to do all that.”

Where it’s tat

The shop, located in the El Cortez hotel, has permission to use the hotel’s Trocadero Room for processing so people won’t have to wait out in the cold for their tattoos. Watson recommends that participants bring snacks, water, comfortable clothing, jackets and cigarettes.

“We’re going to have board games and cards so people can have something to do while they wait,” says Watson. “We don’t want them to go very far once they get in line. And no drunks, no drugs.”

The volunteer teams are there to ensure that Freeman spends most of his time tattooing and nothing else. There will be stations set up in between so Freeman can grab a quick drink or bite of something as he moves from one person to the next. There are even rules for when a person is in the tattoo chair.

“The basic rule is you can’t change the tattoo,” says Freeman. “And talking about it is going to waste my time. Every second counts. It’s not to be rude or unappreciative of people coming in here and helping me obtain this goal.”

The tattoos also must be two-color. (Guinness considers gray wash a color.) Freeman has designed 11 different tattoos to choose from for this event. All of them are basic black outlines with some gray wash shades.

“I’m designing them exactly how they are going to be,” says Freeman. “There aren’t going to be any changes. I’m also trying to design them so that if someone did want color they can always get color later. I’m not going to fool anyone, these aren’t going to be the greatest tattoos in the world.”

Freeman also says he’s kept them simple so that the tattoos will look good even as the 24 hours wears on, and he gets tired, or in case his hand cramps. The only practice he’s done has been to find out the time it’s going to take to complete the hardest tattoo. He also says his almost 19 years of tattooing experience has been practice for this.

“When I first started this, three months ago, I really didn’t think about all the technicalities of it,” he says. “There are so many technicalities, and it’s costing me way more than I thought it was going to cost to actually do this. But, I’ve already kind of opened up Pandora’s box so … it’s happening. And it’s an absolute certainty that it wouldn’t be happening without all the people who have been helping me out.”

In addition to the volunteers who have come out to support this event, it’s being sponsored by several local businesses including Pie-Face Pizza, Tonic, Imperial, Freeman’s Natural Hotdogs, and Forever Music.

“I got involved because I like organizing things, and I think it’s good for my business to have a good relationship with the tattoo shops in town,” says Watson. “I really wanted to help out and make this happen because that’s notoriety for Reno, and notoriety for Reno helps all our businesses.”

“It’s just a matter of pulling it off,” says Freeman.