The Fine Art of Tattooing with Eric Baumann
Eric Baumann (PHS Class ‘92) opened Extreme Tattoo in 1996. Today it’s the longest operating tattoo studio in Piqua. The artwork of Eric and several other tattoo artists are on display in the Piqua Public Library Second Floor Rollin Gallery.
How he became interested in art:
My interest in art started early. I remember creating my first drawings at age 6 (shown in the exhibit). I remember sitting at the bottom of our steps and trying to reproduce an Indian head painting my mother had. The other is a portrait of Bob Seger my uncle had at his apartment. Both of these wonderful works of art are on display at the library. The artistic side of me comes from both sides of my family. All my uncles on my mother's side are fantastic sketch artists, comics, and doodles. My grandmother and aunt on my dad's side are both very talented oil painters and sculptors. I'm the melting pot of both sides I guess... haha!
I don't remember ever having a plan to become anything particular. I wanted to be an honest person who enjoys life. I guess inside I always knew I would be living the starving artist lifestyle.
How he started tattooing:
I never intended to become a tattooist. It kinda fell in my lap. I bought some tattoo equipment from a friend that needed money to fund a trip to visit his sister. I sat on the equipment for a couple months until my friends pushed me to "experiment " on them. Boy were they good friends or what! I did my first tattoo in November of 1994. I believe it was a set of flames on music notes. From that point, it took off and never seemed to slow down. It snowballed into where I am today.
On learning the art of tattooing:
Learning the art of tattooing is a never-ending process. There is always new equipment and new techniques. There are so many new talented artists these days it's unreal what can be done. If I said I didn't need to learn anymore then I should retire.
The process of a tattoo is tedious and tricky. It takes hours of sketching, consultations and communicating. Some designs could take three or more hours just to render the idea. Then we clean up the drawing by doing a line drawing. That is just the outline, no shading. This is used for the stenciling process (examples in exhibit). Once the idea is on paper and both the artist and client agree on it the appointment is set. Then the application begins. There are many other detailed steps that go behind the scenes that most don't see. Sterilizing equipment and tools is the most important one.
My favorite style is good old black and gray. Realistic portraits, tribal, reproduction art. At Extreme we all have many styles and capabilities. We like to have a full range of style, from traditional style to skulls, animals, etc. Rarely do we say "we can't do it." We like them all.
What a person needs to know before they get a tattoo:
It's very important to look at credentials, certifications, and training to start with. Ask as many questions as necessary. If you don't feel comfortable with a tattooist or studio, leave. Free will is a wonderful thing. Choose the right artist for the style you want. Research and interview. A presentation is worth a million dollars -- this is forever so choose wisely. There is a difference between being a tattooist and a tattoo artist. Feel comfortable with the artist, both their attitude and first impression. Don't set yourself short. Respect your body. Just because it's cheaper somewhere else doesn't mean you will love it forever.
About Extreme Tattoo:
Extreme Tattoo opened in 1996. I started working there shortly after opening. I worked for the previous owner for about a year and bought the studio from him within the following year. I paid monthly installments for 12 months, all the .equipment was included. Shortly after I registered the name and the rights to Extreme Tattoo and Co.
October of 2015 we purchased the new home of Extreme, it's a total remodel. Plumbing, electrical, exterior and interior. The building was an old nightclub on Main street, Illusions Club. It's probably the worst condition a bar could be in. We're going to turn it into the cleanest tattoo facility this town will ever see. We plan to open this summer. It hasn't been easy at all to complete but is probably my best artistic work I have done yet. Most of the work I have completed myself, alongside my father and close friends that love tattoos as much as me.
On the community response been to Extreme Tattoo:
The community support over the years has been overwhelming, to say the least. They have always been there for me. I never have any issues or negative feedback from the community. They are good to me and I as well to them. The Library exhibit is proof of that, thank you so much for the opportunity.
One last thing:
I hope everyone that comes to see the exhibit, opens their mind's eye and sees the industry as it really is. It's living art. Not all in this industry are bad people. We love doing what we do. We have bad days just like the rest, but we do work really hard to give you the best we can give. This is our everyday life, we are always striving to be better and set the bar higher and higher. We like being trendsetters and we're working very hard at making tattoos great again! Wear them proudly! If you enjoy what you see, please leave a comment, good or bad. Thank you for this one time opportunity.