Tattooed love

Joel Dodds

Photo by Robert Cabiness Jr

Ah yes. Can you feel that Sacramento heat? Summertime is definitely here again. This is the time of year when Sacramentans practically ransack the city’s department stores and boutiques in search of something a little more comfortable. In case you didn’t know, around these parts, a little more comfortable means a little more revealing. For many of us, the warm-weather attire will serve as a means to show off the results of long hours in the gym. On the other hand, some of us have been a little negligent—depriving our bodies of sunlight and much-needed exercise. Never fear. Tattoo artist Joel Dodds of Nostalgia Studios offers the perfect accessory for a sun-blessed, hard body and a fairly decent distraction from a not-so-hard body. No matter what kind of tattoo you’re looking for, Dodds will hook you up. The man even does work below the equator, if you know what I mean. Did I mention he likes his job? So, who is the guy that gives customers an incentive to wear something backless, waistless or strapless? A damn happy one—that’s who!

What made you become a tattoo artist?

I got tattooed. Then, I got hooked on it. I’ve always drawn stuff. I was pretty excited about tattooing because it was more challenging than paper.

When did you get your first tattoo?

When I was 14. I got it at a shop. You used to be able to go into shops at that age and get a tat. That was back then. It’s not like that anymore. Now, you have to be 18. Some shops might let you do it younger than that, but I don’t know of any.

Have you ever tattooed someone’s genitalia?

Yes, female. It was a pretty good time. I’ll tell you now—a vibrator has nothin’ on a tattoo needle. The power in the motor! Nah, just kidding. It’s different than tattooing most of the body though.

Has anyone ever expressed a sense of pleasure from that?

Yeah! I don’t know if everybody does, but I thought it was great.

What kind of credentials are you required to have?

Basically, you have to get a business license to tattoo. You have to have a hepititus vaccination. I’m certified by The Alliance of Professional Tattooists. To have a professional shop, you have to have a sterilizer. Each customer is single service. We don’t re-use caps and needles.

Which holidays are the busiest?

Holidays aren’t really busy. It’s kind of seasonal. Not everywhere, but in Sacramento because the seasons are so extreme. You know—summer and winter. During the summertime, business seems to pick up because the weather’s hotter.

Do customers often ask you to cover up their ex’s name?

Yeah. They don’t love you—it’s just your turn. I think it’s cool to get your kid’s name. I’ve done a lot of boyfriend/girlfriend tattoos. They come back like three weeks later wanting me to change it.

What do you say to people who want a tattoo of their lover’s name?

No. If that’s what they’re into, I’m totally cool. I’m just saying it doesn’t always work out.

Do you get a lot of business from biker gangs?

Nah. I tattoo like a lot of 9-to-5 people. Neighborhood folks.

What do you think of Wild Bill (the guy who tattoos the Kings)?

Oh yeah. I know Wild Bill. He taught me how to do some tattooing.

How do the shops in Sacramento compare to the ones in San Francisco?

That falls on an individual basis. Just like in any trade, there’s people that are good all over. There’s tons and tons of excellent artists in San Francisco, but there’s tons in Oakland too. You know? I don’t think it’s geographical. There’s tons of great artists in Sacramento.

What celebrity has the best tattoos?

I don’t like that question. Usually, movie stars only have like one small tattoo.

What was your worst experience as a tattoo artist?

I pretty much like it. I did a tattoo of a pirate flag on this guy, and he passed out and pissed all over himself. That was probably the worst.

Is this a good way for you to meet the ladies?

Hell yeah! You start to get jaded because, basically, they just want a free tattoo. Like I said, they don’t love you—it’s just your turn.

So, do you have a lot of fun?

Yeah. I love what I do.