This week’s episode that highlighted Chris Garver’s work was definitely my favorite out of the whole “Best Tatts” series so far. The first story was of – the guitar player who got a tattoo of her favorite guitar – a Fender Stratocaster. Garver said the biggest challenge of this tattoo was the strings – getting them perfectly straight and lined up like they’re supposed to be. Nicole enjoys flirting with Chris, and he says it’s normal for women to flirt with their tattoo artist because getting a tattoo is an intimate experience.
Evan Seinfeld – the singer from Biohazard that got the bad-ass skull tattoo that looked a lot like himself. Garver comments on the FTW on the bandana…he says a lot of people think that means “Free the Whales”, but he thinks Evan means something else by it. He smirks and then says, “Use your imagination.”
– the girl who got the Mark Ryden reproduction of the girl crying bloody tears. Garver says it’s a real challenge doing art reproductions because it’s not like “regular tattooing”, due to all the different colors throughout. Chris also says that he has very good eyesight – he can write his name on a grain of rice – so even though it’s a challenge, he really enjoys doing miniature tattoo pieces.
– the big, bad biker who was brought to tears at the thought of his wife’s kindness to get him a tattoo for his birthday. Garver finds the sentiment of the wife very sweet and the emotional vulnerability of Eric amusing.
James – a friend of Ami’s from Denmark. He’s already got a great dragon on his right arm and shoulder, and Garver adds a fantastic tiger on the left arm and shoulder. Garver says he feels that this is one of the best tattoos he’s done at Miami Ink. It was also challenging because normally he doesn’t like to tattoo more than 3 hours at a time – at that point, the skin gets hot and the client gets fidgety. But since James is heading back to Denmark, they have to do it all at once, and it turns into a 7 hour session.
– the skateboarder from New York who got the WTC memorial tattoo and Sk8 or Die under it. Garver felt personally connected with this one because he remembered Harold from the “old days” when he also lived close to the twin towers. He was in Japan when the towers were attacked, celebrating his birthday – his birthday is September 11. He was sad to hear Harold died just a couple of months after doing this tattoo.
Serena – the girl who got the Japanese Hannya mask. Garver says he thinks people like the Hannya mask because they like the devil look, but don’t want to actually get something Satanic, so they prefer the Japanese version. He says this tattoo was probably one of the least challenging for him to do, but also one of his favorites. He liked it especially because there was no sob story attached to it. He feels that people who are really in a bad place emotionally would be better off seeing a therapist instead of getting a tattoo. He’s afraid that someone not in the right state of mind may regret their decision afterward.
Big Dave – came in covered in a heavy black suit. Garver figures it must be his “thing” to go for the shock value of when people see all the tattoos he actually has. Garver did some interesting water effects between a couple of pre-existing tattoos to bring them together as one. Big Dave was definitely an interesting client, but I’m not sure that the tattooing Chris did here was really all that momentous.
Amber – came into the Hawaii shop while Garver was working there. She was going through some tough times and wanted some cherry blossoms on her shoulder. That turned into a whole bunch of cherry blossoms and floating petals all the way down her back. Garver says that traditional Japanese cherry blossoms are not done in different sizes, so he draws one and then copies it several times so all the blossoms are uniform. He said he wasn’t really sure what she thought about the tattoo, but she brought him cookies the next day so he thinks that’s a good sign.
– this is the guy obsessed with the 50s and wants old style pinup girls on his arms. While Chris is half way through the first one, Jerry suggests that maybe Kat could do the other one since she’s also so good at pinups. Someone cooks up the idea that they should do them at the same time, so they tag-team Jerry, which upon reflection was really not a very good idea. Even with all the joking and the challenge of being moved around, Jerry survives it all and both pinups look fantastic. Garver says it was fun, but he wouldn’t do it again.
Mike – his daughter, Krista, got cancer at a very young age and they really thought they were going to lose her. But their family motto was “never give up”, and she amazed everyone by beating it. So he wants a tattoo of a girl punching an ugly mass (tumor) like the one Kristen beat. Garver creates just the right picture. Garver likes this tattoo story because it’s in celebration of something positive.