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Tattoo expo at Tulalip draws enthusiastic crowds from Pacific Northwest and beyond

TULALIP — This year’s Jet City Tattoo Expo packed the Orca Ballroom at the Tulalip Resort Hotel and Casino Jan. 21-23, as tattoo artists from across the country applied their ink to tattoo aficionados from throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.

Keith and Lacie Bailey of Anvil Tattoo on State Avenue represented Marysville in the midst of nearly 50 other tattoo booths, which were staffed by artists from as far south as California and as far east as Massachusetts. Keith has been running his shop in Marysville for two of the 24 years that he’s been practicing his craft, and just in those two years he and his wife Bailey have witnessed both dramatic changes and resurrections of old trends.

“We see a lot more women these days,” Lacie Bailey said. “I think people are a little more accepting of women getting tattoos, because our business is mostly women now. They’re still getting classics like skulls, but now they’re more like sugar-skulls, like Day of the Dead stuff. It’s more cutesy.”

“All the traditional sailor stuff is making a comeback,” Keith Bailey said. “At the same time you’ve got hot girls getting full-sleeve tattoos now, which you never would have seen 10 years ago. There are school teachers, doctors, lawyers and everyone in between getting tattoos now. The hoodlums that people used to associate with tattoos aren’t coming to professional shops like ours to get them done. They’re getting their stuff done in basements.”

Keith Bailey identified an increase in popularity of tattoos which resemble oil paintings, which suits his tastes well as an aspiring artist whose parents warned him that he’s never make a living at his chosen vocation. He praised Marysville for having half a dozen tattoo parlors, and with reality television shows spotlighting their craft he anticipates bright things for the future of his field.

Lindsey Eyers lives in Seattle now but she’s remained a loyal customer of the Baileys every since she and they all lived in Bellingham.

“All my tattoos have been done by Keith,” said Eyers, who sported a full sleeve in tribute to the animated movie “Heavy Metal.” “He’s versatile and artistic, and he just has a great laid-back personality.”

Not only does Eyers enjoy hanging out at Anvil Tattoo and talking about “cars and cool movies” while she’s getting her ink applied, but she also looks forward to the endorphin rush she gets from the physical sensation of being tattooed.

“After you’re done, it’s just such a release,” Eyers said. “Plus, you’re left with a beautiful, moving work of art, made all the more so by being done on such a difficult canvas.”

Marysville resident Levi Bissitt was one of the Jet City Tattoo Expo attendees who sat in on the other side of the ink pen Jan. 22. Bissitt laid face-down across three chairs as Stefan Johnson of Lovedog Tattoos in Santa Cruz, Calif., applied a creatively interpreted reference portrait of a glamour model onto the calf of Bissitt’s right leg.

“I must have put in 6,000 hours on tattoos so far,” said Bissitt, a 24-year-old who’s had two full sleeves and the full length of his left leg tattooed since he turned 18. “My goal is to get a full suit eventually. It’s addictive. It’s so cool to be able to look at these tattoos over and over. Having a piece of art on you is the best feeling in the world.”

Bissitt trusted Johnson’s artistic skills enough that all he requested was “something that looked cool.” Bissitt also acknowledged that no tattoo comes without pain, but as far as he’s concerned, “That’s how you earn your tattoos.”

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