The Family That Tattoos Together
Husband-and-wife team Dave and Peggy Sucher have run the gamut with tattoos, from ones that scratch the surface of a person to tattoos that provide a look into the soul of their customer.
“Every picture is a story,” say the Suchers, owners of Tattoo Hawaii Studio.
One heart-wrenching tattoo was requested by a student who got a full scholarship to Notre Dame. He asked for a portrait of his mother, who died when he was 12 years old, to be tattooed on his arm. The student looked in the mirror, touched the finished tattoo, and said, “She’s always with me.”
On the fun side, a customer got a tattoo in Thai writing that says, “It’s a tattoo.” His point was that when people ask him what the design says, he could tell them it says “It’s a tattoo.”
He hoped that they’d say, “I know it’s a tattoo, but what does it say?” An Abbott and Costello fan, no doubt.
The 1,100-square-foot studio offers custom tattoos as well as new designs to go over a tattoo a client wants covered up. He does the body tattoos, and she handles the cosmetic eyeliner and eyebrow tattoos.
For a complete tattoo removal, they refer their customers to laser removal studios.
Peggy says sometimes people think they want a tattoo, but it may not necessarily be such a good idea for them in the future.
“I have an obligation to play mom to talk about the tattoo,” she explains. “They may think that’s great, but it could be a job-stopper and a career-ender. Or let’s say your tail light is out. The police officer pulls you over. He sees that pot leaf tattoo on you. It becomes more than just a traffic stop now. It will change their life in one way or another. We want that changed in a positive way. We don’t want any ramifications down the road of ‘I wish they talked me out of that.‘They can get that tattoo elsewhere. I hope that when that tattoo comes back to bite them, they remember the lady who said not to do that.”
Dave previously worked as a journeyman machinist for an automotive company, and Peggy worked as a sales trainer for a department store while doing tattoos part time until 1994, when they opened their Altered Images Tattoo shop in Chicago. The couple moved to Hawaii in 2004 to join family and get away from the cold. The Maili residents worked in Waikiki at Skin Deep Tattoo for five years before opening their Tattoo Hawaii Studio on Kona Street in October. The couple and their two visiting artists have tattoo licenses from the state Department of Health, which requires an exam and passing tuberculosis and syphilis tests.
The Suchers are longtime members of both the National Tattoo Association and the Alliance for Professional Tattooists. He also makes custom pool cues, and she writes a column on tattooing and serves as a blood-borne pathogen instructor and lecturer on tattooing.
Being married and running a business together may not work for some couples, but it has worked out great for them.
“We understand each other,” Peggy says. “We talk about everything - if we have anything that upsets us, we don’t let it fester. We love our business. We love the world of tattooing. We are fortunate to share it with each other and to be able to do it together.”
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