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Inked – More than Skin Deep

Permanent ink. It’s on almost everyone’s mind these days. Students and high-positioned people such as doctors and politicians have them. It is becoming more popular to be inked.

“My first tattoo experience, it was kind of exhilarating and stressful at the same time. It wasn’t bad. It was right. It was kind of life changing, my first tattoo,” said Ruben Conner, sophomore at Tyler Junior College.

Conner got his first tattoo on his 19th birthday at Exotic Ink on Loop 323. He had just recently established his relationship with God and wanted to get a tattoo that showed his commitment to Christianity.

“The tattoo is of Jesus on the cross. And at the bottom it has two hands holding the cross. One of the hands represents Jesus and the other one represents mine. It has the word Sozo at the bottom, which means salvation in Greek,” Conner said.
Joseph Haddad, freshman at TJC, got his first tattoo at Resurrection Ink on Highway 69 when he turned 18.

“The tattoo is the number ‘115’ and it practically binds me to one of my closest friends. Our entire relationship first started around this number, and it flourished,” Haddad said. “They are the very few non-family members that I can say ‘I love you’ and actually mean it. Everyone has at least one friend like that.”

Haddad had always drawn on his arms and hands, and he is glad to make things permanent, as is Conner.

“If it wasn’t for the motivation of impulse and friendship, I wouldn’t have walked into Resurrection Ink,” Haddad said.

About four and a half years ago, John Mahfood, the co-owner and artist at Resurrection Ink, opened the doors to his tattoo salon wanting to give the city a good artist, making it his mission to change tattooing in Tyler.

“It’s a salon, and the main difference between our place and most of the other places that you’ll find is that it’s all about you. We want you to feel comfortable. We want you to feel happy. We want you to be able to tell it’s clean. We want you to be able to tell your friends, ‘Hey, you’ve got to come check this place out. It’s not like any place else,’” Mahfood said. “And it’s not just the building, it’s inside each one of us. As Christians, it’s our responsibility to do what good we can in the world and wipe out what bad needs to be wiped out.”

According to U.S. News & World Report tattooing has become one of the fastest growing categories of retail business in the last 10 years. Estimates are that at least one studio opens each day across the country. The PR Newswire website says one out of every five U.S. adults has a tattoo.

“Eighteen to 80, blind, crippled, and crazy. It doesn’t matter. When people want to express themselves and they find a safe place to do it, they’re going to do it their way,” Mahfood said.

The artists don’t just keep themselves to tattoos and fixing bad tattoos, Mahfood and other artists do permanent makeup, skin tone restoration and in some cases scar management and scar camouflage, eyebrows and lip liners.

Skin restoration is when a burn ruins any part of the skin or where the skin becomes a different color. This is one of Mahfood’s specialties.

“I do this for kids, and I do this for adults. I’ll do it for free for combat veterans that have served and they are horribly burned and want their skin tone matched again. It’s just paint and camouflage. They have a flaw in their skin and like a painter. I match their skin tone and give them a new coat,” Mahfood said.

Mahfood encourages anyone thinking about getting a tattoo to go somewhere they are comfortable and at peace with the artist. He also encourages people to ask questions about sterilization and ability.

“In my place, I want them to feel comfortable. This place is for us…this place is for the people much like yourself, that really appreciate bodywork and want good high quality work,” Mahfood said.

Ashleigh Brents

Staff Writer

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