Interview with Point Blank Tattoo and Body Piercing artists - Eddie B., Vic, & "Q"

Point Blank Tattoo and Body Piercing, located in downtown Wisconsin Dells, is a custom tattoo shop that has been giving both tourists and locals alike beautiful works of art on their bodies since 1997. Recently, I got to spend time learning about the shop, as well as the tattoo process, from manager Eddie B. and fellow artists, Vic and “Q”.

So, are you guys originally from the Dells?

EDDIE B: No, down by Milwaukee. Moved up here about fifteen years ago.

What brought you here?

EDDIE B: Milwaukee. (laughs)

How about you Q?

Q: From Milwaukee. Been here about four years. I basically came up as a guest artist for the summer and just liked it here. Decided to stick around.

How long have you been doing tattoos for?

Q: Over twelve years.

What about you Vic, where are you originally from?

VIC: I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY.

What made you come out here?

VIC: Probably work. My brother’s wife’s family was from Milwaukee, but he had an uncle that was from Baraboo. One time I came up to visit him and he was working at the casino when they were just starting to expand it, and he was like, why don’t you try out for a blackjack dealer? So I came out, tried it out, and needless to say I got a job as a blackjack dealer.

So what made you go from dealing cards to working in a tattoo shop?

VIC: The guy that owned the shop, Rob, one of the partners, he used to sit at my table all the time and gamble. So he said one day - I’m tired you of taking all my money, why don’t you come make me some. (laughs)

Were you doing art before then?

VIC: Nope, I did an apprenticeship here.

When did you start working at the shop Eddie?

EDDIE B: 2003.

And how long have you been doing tattoo artistry for?

EDDIE B: Since about 2003.

How old are you?

EDDIE B: Forty-two.

So, what made you get into tattooing so late in life?

EDDIE B: It’s just really something I always wanted to do. I tried to get into it when I was younger, but it just never panned out, you know, so I had to get a real job.

Were you doing art before that?

EDDIE B: I did a lot of airbrushing and painting and stuff. Mostly I just built houses.

How did you learn the art of tattooing?

EDDIE B: Apprenticeship.

Where did you do that at?

EDDIE B: Here.

What did that entail?

EDDIE B: Ah, just a lot of drawing. A lot of learning techniques and equipment. Watching a lot of guys doing things and finding out the reason why.

What was your first tattoo you did?

EDDIE B: A clover.

And how did it turn out?

EDDIE B: Great! It looks great today.

What were you feeling when you did that. Were you nervous? Excited?

EDDIE B: Yeah, I was a little nervous, but I had a great crew around me that were teaching me what to do, what not to do, so it went really well.

How long has Point Blank Tattoo been in the Dells for?

VIC: I think it was 1997, so about sixteen years now.

What’s the story behind the name?

VIC: There is a Point Blank Tattoo One in North Carolina; this is Point Blank Tattoo Two.

Same owner?

VIC: Same owner. Point Blank Tattoo One was in Hendersonville, NC.

EDDIE B: He had a partner that helped him open this one, and then he went on his way. Moved to Arizona and his partner kept this place.

How many tattoos do you think you’ve done over the years?

EDDIE B: 10,000

Wow, really?

EDDIE B: Got to be close.

How about you Q?

Q: Thousands for sure.

What’s your favorite? Do you have one that stands out of all you have done?

EDDIE B: Not in particular. Japanese style is fun. I like doing that and photorealism. I don’t have one particular one that I’ve done that I thought was the best though.

Do you guys have any influences? Like is there a certain famous artist you really dig?

Q: All tattoo artists are influenced my other artists. We like to do a lot of traditional work, so a lot of work from some of the older, traditional artists. Sailor Jerry . . .

VIC: Dave Gibson. Mike Malloy. A lot of those older traditional artists like that. Just because they took so much pride in what they do, even way back then. They didn’t use what these guys use today. Obviously there are a lot of newer machines that came out like rotaries, pneumatics and stuff like that.

What do you guys use?

VIC: Just a power supply, electric, and that’s what they use to use back then, you know. The only thing different back then is that they didn’t use no gloves to tattoo you. (laughs) You had to be drunk, know what I mean.

Well, walk me through the process a bit. What happens if I come in here wanting to get a tattoo?

VIC: Well, if you walk in, unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, we’ll help you whether looking it up online or drawing it for you. We’ll draw it up, show it to you, and make sure it’s to your liking obviously. If you agree with it, we’ll have you sign a release form we have up front which basically just has your information. Your name, any medical conditions you might have . . .

Stuff in there so that you can’t sue the place?

EDDIE B: Correct, if you sign that you can’t sue us for shit. And that’s the way it is.

VIC: Because we ask people, it has on there, like do you have HIV, Hepatitis, or something like that. Now, how many people are going to be honest with you? Probably not much. Even though we treat everyone like they have something anyway. We do ask you for medications, obviously someone with blood thinners or something like that we can’t do work on you, but that’s pretty much it. Once you fill out the release form, they pay obviously, whatever the price is, and then we get you in and get your tattoo.

How much does it cost? Obviously it depends on what’s being done, but what’s the price range?

Q: We have a minimum of sixty dollars. Actually there are two minimums; there is a minimum for the hands, feet, and neck, because they are harder spots to work in. Feet and hands don’t hold up as well, so it’s more likely that you’ll have to come in and get it touched up, you know. That we don’t charge for, but things start in the $60-$75 range.

What’s the most expensive stuff? Like if someone were to get a full back done.

Q: A back with a lot of detail can be a few thousand. It’s usually hourly for big pieces. We charge about $125 per hour and huge tattoos can sometime be 100 hours or more, so it can get pricy.

In general, do most people just come in and pick something off the walls?

EDDIE B: Not, anymore. They usually just have something on their phone.

VIC: They used to, maybe when we first opened up the shop, for the first few years. But now they just come with their phones.

I noticed the sign that says the cops will be called if you take any pictures of the artwork on the wall. What’s the reason for that?

EDDIE B: A lot of this is from artists that have been through here, guest artists. A lot of stuff that we’ve done is on the walls. So basically, we don’t want people to take photos and then bring it somewhere else. If they want to get it done, they get it done here.

So, after they decide on a tattoo and it’s drawn out to their liking, what’s next?

VIC: We place it on you with a stencil, unless you have something that we have to draw on you or something like that.

With marker?

VIC: Yeah, like a sharpie or something, but usually the stencil transfers the outline onto your skin. Then you clean and shave the skin.

What do you clean it with, alcohol?

VIC: No, we use Dr. Brown’s soap, or Green soap, which is an anesthetic.

Then you start just start tattooing with the guns?

VIC: The machines! The machines! Guns to a tattoo artist are offensive . . .

EDDIE B: Guns kill people!

Oh, I’m sorry. With the name Point Blank I just assumed . . .

VIC: Machines just tattoo you man. (laughs)

Q: But yeah, you use a foot switch to power the machine, which moves the needle up and down. Then just dip the tip in the ink, and then tattoo it.

Speaking of needles, tell me a little about those and how you disinfect everything.

VIC: They’re surgical steel, doctor’s grade. After use they sit in ultrasonics, and once they get done, they get scrubbed, packaged, and then put it in the autoclave.

What does the autoclave do?

VIC: Sterilizes it.

EDDIE B: It puts it under fifteen to twenty pounds of barometric pressure at 240 degrees for forty minutes. Same things surgeons would use.

VIC: Hospitals all use these.

EDDIE B: Yep, the exact same stuff. That’s why people think sterilizing things, jewelry at home with alcohol or anything like that, that will never kill everything. It doesn’t kill blood-borne pathogens or anything like that. Like Hepatitis or AIDS or what have you. The only way you are going to achieve that is by using one of these.

I’m assuming you guys also use this for the body piercing tools. What are some of the things you use?

VIC: Basically we use is forceps, spreaders, pliers . . .

Who does most of the piercing?

EDDIE B: Vic does the piercing – he’s super good.

What’s the most popular piercing these days?

VIC: Probably nose piercing. Nose and belly buttons I guess.

Where’s the most unusual place you’ve guys done. I’m guessing genitals?

VIC: Yeah, but we don’t do guy piercing of those here, just girls. We’ve done quite a few of them.

What about tattooing, any weird parts of the body? Eyelids or something?

VIC: Eddie tattooed a face before, but you can tattoo just about anywhere. Inside the mouth and stuff like that.

What’s the most painful spot on the body to get a tat?

VIC: I guess everyone is a little different, you know what I mean? Some people say the ribs, some people say the foot. A lot of people think that bony areas are a lot more painful than fatty areas, but I don’t think it’s true. I think, just personally for me, I think the kidney area. It’s fatty back there, but to me that hurt like hell!

EDDIE B: I think it has more to do with the artist then the person.

VIC: Exactly. Some artists are light handed, some a heavy handed and just grind on you.

You guys have any unusual experiences of people reacting while getting a tat?

EDDIE B: Just people passing out I guess. From the pain. Every once in a while.

What do you have to do in those situations? Fan them off?

EDDIE B: Yeah, just give them a soda. Sit them down in front of a fan.

VIC: We’ll give them a pack of sugar or a soda. Any kind of sugar will bounce them back. It’s just they work themselves up thinking it’s going to hurt so bad.

Who deals with the pain better, guys or girls?

VIC: Girls by far, for sure.

Anything you won’t tattoo?

Q: Well, we generally won’t do gang signs and things like that, or racist stuff. Anything that would reflect badly on the shop. We won’t tattoo drunk people.

Have you done any funny cover-ups?

Q: Nothing that really stands out. Usually names of ex-wives, ex-girlfriends, or stuff like that.

Do you have a dream tattoo that you want to do?

Q: I think what I would like to do is a full body suit, one tattoo that actually covers the whole body, as opposed to pieces, pieced together. Just one tattoo.

Someone comes in with just a blank canvas and you cover him completely up?

Q: Yeah, that would be cool.

What are some of stuff that is “out” these days? Like I heard the tribal stuff is a thing of the past.

VIC: Yeah, tribal. In the tattoo industry these days, tribal is like, nobody wants to do that shit no more. That shit is like a nineties thing, you know. In the nineties, that thing was off the chain, everybody loved that tribal! But you still got people that come in and want the shit. (laughs) I don’t know, I guess people think it makes them look tough.

Anything else like that which tattoo artists now laugh about?

VIC: Infinity symbols. Everybody wants an infinity symbol these days. Mostly women. Girls with infinity symbols and guys with tribal, that’s basically it. It was stars and hearts for a while.

What about Chinese lettering? I heard sometimes you might not be getting what you think it means.

Q: We usually double check with a dictionary, English to Japanese or English to Chinese. We also get a lot of kids that come in here from China or Japan, and we double check with them to make sure we got the correct meanings. (laughs)

What’s the funniest tattoo someone’s asked you for?

EDDIE B: If it ain’t fatnin’ –  it ain’t hapnin’!

VIC: Awesome, yeah. He’s got it in his portfolio actually. It’s a pin-up chick, hugging a drumstick.

EDDIE B: Pin-up chick? Maybe after a few kids!

Anything funny ever happen here at the shop?

VIC: I don’t know man; there is so many funny things that go on around here. Like when that girl farted in your face! (laughs)

EDDIE B: You don’t need to be putting that shit in the newspaper man, come-on!

I won’t mention it in paper, but for my website I can put whatever.

EDDIE B: Thanks, I appreciate it.

So, what type of tattoo were you giving her at the time?

EDDIE B: Oh no man, no no…not going there.

VIC: Well, Q had a girl that farted once. She was getting a tattoo on her lower back. I don’t know if she was just relaxed too much, but she let that thing rip boy! I was walking by; Q looks at me all funny. I heard it, but I didn’t want to make her feel bad so I just kept walking – but I came back here and started laughing. Q came back and said: Man, she shit on my chair! (laughs)

Anything you guys want to mention before we wrap this thing up?

VIC: Well I guess, I heard the other day that you’re not supposed to get a tattoo in a tourist area because most tattoos in tourist areas suck. They figure after they make it, they won’t see you no more. You know what I mean? We just had a couple come in the other day saying they were told not to even come in here because of stuff like that . . . 

EDDIE B: But then they’ll see our portfolios, find out who we are, and they are more than impressed.

VIC: We are open year round, you know what I mean, so . . .

Plus you guys have been around for a while.

EDDIE B: Yep, plus Q and I are both award winning artists.

Like in magazines and at conventions?

EDDIE B: Yeah, we’ve been in magazines, both of us, as you can see all the trophies up here at the front counter.

You got a lot of them.

EDDIE B: The glass one there is Best of Show – which was won up in Minneapolis. I won that for a back piece off an eagle and an American flag, with the guys raising it. The famous World War II Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima image. 

So, what is your favorite part of the job?

VIC: I guess I just like meeting all the people. You get a lot of people coming in and out of here, but really it’s just something I like to do. I enjoy what I do, and these guys enjoy their art. Probably the nicest thing is seeing them walk out of here happy.

Also, there are a lot of International students that work here in town, and we were just talking about this the other day. We’ve tattooed people from all over. We’ll sit back and think about it – I pretty much got tattoos everywhere. Internationally. Tattoos all over Europe, you know what I mean. It’s a pretty cool feeling.

For more information about Point Blank Tattoo and Body Piercing visit their Facebook page: or call 608-253-3055