Lance Talon tattoos Terbo at Bolder Ink.
Lance Talon tattoos Terbo at Bolder Ink. ( Zak Wood )

Tattoos are amazing. Stab at some flesh with an ink-filled needle a bunch of times and create permanent body art.

That's pretty serious business. It hurts, requires the care you'd give to a wound, which it basically is, and it will be there forever. Whether you're getting your first tat or finishing off a sleeve, there's a lot to think about.

Once you've decided to commit to that ribcage art (ouch, dude), the first thing to do is find a good shop, obviously, and then accept that you might have to pay a lot for quality.

"Sometimes people have this idea of, 'I only want to spend this much on this and I want it to be really good and last forever.' That's a bad mentality," Bolder Ink Manager CJ Shea said. "They go somewhere cheaper and have to get it touched up a year later. It's on your body forever."

A shop like Bolder Ink will fix up faded work, but when you go in for a tattoo, make it worth the big bucks. Shea said students will sometimes want an exact replica of a friend's tattoo, but the artists encourage people to get something unique and reflective of their personality.

As a custom shop, they're also not fond of being asked to replicate from a photo.

"It's kind of disrespectful to a custom tattoo shop to roll in and say this is exactly what I want," Shea said. "It kills the creative process."

Once you've dropped a solid chunk of change on that fine art, you need to know how to take care of your investment. Shea said he often sees work destroyed by impatience in the summer -- that means some people just can't wait to get in the pool or the lake, then fry in the sun. But putting that stuff off is crucial.


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Most shops have similar recommended regimens for tattoo care, with slight differences. At Bolder Ink, they recommend keeping the bandage on overnight if you get tatted in the evening. When that's off, wash it with Gold bacterial soap and let it air dry. Then, they recommend Aquafore for three days to two weeks, depending on the tat. Lubriderm is also good because it's not too thick. Shea said thick lotions force you to rub a little harder, which can cause scabs to flake. You also want to avoid scented lotions, which have chemicals that can irritate the healing skin.

There's a lot to think about, but there's always someone to answer questions at any of Boulder's tattoo shops. Below is a brief guide to where to get your ink in town. Good luck, and try not to tat while drunk.

Bolder Ink

Where: 2735 Iris Ave., Boulder, 303-444-7380

Hours: 12 p.m.-7p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday

Location-wise, Bolder Ink is a little further out of the way than the other shops in town, but it's worth the trip. The custom shop opened in 2001, and they've won local awards two years since then.

Electric Quill

Where: 1546 28th St., Boulder, 720-406-8457

Hours: 12 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, closed Sunday-Monday

This spot uses organic and vegan ink -- something we're just now learning exists. The artists here generally work by appointment and charge an hourly rate, with a $60 minimum.

Claw and Talon Tattoo

Where: 1695 Folsom St., Boulder, 720-379-6577

Hours: 12 p.m.-8 p.m. every day

Mike O Farrell outlines a sleeve for Tony Spinuzzi at Tribal Rites on the Hill.
Mike O Farrell outlines a sleeve for Tony Spinuzzi at Tribal Rites on the Hill. ( Jeremy Papasso )

Claw and Talon wants you to show your love for the People's Republic. The shop is part of the Boulder Tattoo Project, in which Kentucky-based artists Kurt Gohde and Kremena Todorova will ink words from a love poem to Boulder on volunteers. "People who call Boulder their home are called to become the canvas of an artwork," according to the project's website.

Rising Tide Tattoo Emporium

Where: 3193 Walnut St., Boulder, 303-500-5046

Hours: 12 p.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, closed Sunday-Monday

Artist Phill Bartell opened up shop by himself in 2005. Since then, he's enlisted the help of Darren Hall and expanded his business to include an art gallery. The opening gallery show in 2010 featured Ed Hardy's famous art.

Tribal Rites

Where: 1309 College Ave., Boulder, 303-449-4611

Hours: 12 p.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 12 p.m.-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Sunday

This shop on the Hill has three artists on staff and they've won a handful of the Colorado Daily's CU & Boulder's Best awards. They also have locations in Longmont and Westminster.

Follow Ashley Dean on Twitter: @ashaleyjill.