Edge of the Skin
Anybody who’s taken the time to glimpse my photo on this blog’s “About Us” page can pretty readily tell that I like ink. Tattoos. Tats. Body Art. And not only do I like to get carved on from time to time, I also enjoy tattoo photography. Few things say “Frayed Edge” better than a dragon chestpiece peering at you from behind the deep cut neckline of a bridal gown, or a tribal tramp stamp slashing right through the soft curves of a boudoir pose.
So Jill and I occasionally visit tattoo shops to drop off business cards and other materials to let tatted and pierced folks know they’ve got soul mates at Frayed Edge Concepts, LLC if they’re ever in the market for some photos. Not too long ago we stopped by Tattoo City in High Point, NC where we met tattoo artist, Dallas Morris.
When I met Dallas I almost felt compelled to drop into a cross-legged lotus position and wait for nuggets of wisdom to fall from his tongue. His wispy whiskers, gray hair, slight frame and weathered brow make him look like some kind of Sinsei just waiting for a little Grasshopper to bounce along and sop up the raw wisdom he’s gleaned the hard way from his years and travels. And Dallas has been around.
He’s a Vietnam vet and guitarist who spent almost 20 years with a band performing Southern Rock and Country music on the road. “Back in my hippie days,” as he says. He’s lived in Los Angeles and on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Over a decade ago he grew weary of the vagabond life so he channelled his artistic nature into the tattoo gun. He’s been in High Point, right there at Tattoo City, almost ever since.
Dallas does all kinds of work…tribal, lettering, portraits, cover-ups…and refuses to let himself be backed into one style or another. He creates tattoos based on what he knows about a client’s preferences and goals. But he is old school about how he relates to his clients. “I work with people,” he says. “I don’t expect someone to have to ask themselves whether they want a tattoo this month or make the car payment.” As a result, Dallas has developed some long term relationships.
“Long term” is the operative phrase, here. Because Dallas says that, besides the relationships, the thing he likes most about his art is that people not only carry it with them to the far corners of the world, they carry it forever. With all his years in the business he’s lost some clients to tragedies. “My artwork was with them when they went out,” he says. That’s where the weathered brow comes from. Dallas has lived the full swing of the human drama over the years and has shared the drama with clients who come to him for memorial pieces and tattoos that acknowledge their struggles. It shows on the Sinsei’s face.
That’s one of the things I like most about my job. Faces. They all tell a story. For me, Tattoo City is a great place to hear a story or two, and maybe find a creative (and perhaps a bit painful) way to tell some of my own.