Monday, July 23, 2001


Burl Burlingame /

Tattoo artist

Clients' requests can be surprising

MAKUA ANNON >> "I got interested when I got my first tattoo, a tribal piece, up on my arm here. You don't just fall into being a tattoo artist, and there isn't any school to go to. I apprenticed for three years to another artist.

That's how the knowledge is passed down. The trade is very old-fashioned, and has its own traditions. Someone has to agree to take you. And the Department of Health for the State of Hawaii is very strict on health and safety codes.

I've been at South Pacific Tattoo in Waikiki for some years now. We're open 10 a.m. to midnight every day, and there's no telling when you'll be busy. Could be anytime. Monday morning could be hopping, Friday night could be dead.

It takes anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours to do a tattoo. The technique has been the same for years; the biggest change is the introduction of brighter, hypo-allergenic inks. It's safer all-around.

You can never tell what kind of tattoo a person will want. We have lot of samples on the wall to choose from, and many people design their own. We had a older Japanese visitor the other day who wanted to get what the kids were getting, and we couldn't tell him. It varies too much. A nice little girl might want something bad-ass-looking, and a big old sailor might want a flower. You can't tell.

We get a lot of return customers. I might not remember your face, but I'll remember your tattoo."

Burl Burlingame, Star-Bulletin

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