Boston Tattoo Company’s Alicia Thomas began an ambitious project two years ago.
She wanted to tattoo 151 Pokémon characters on 151 different customers.
Thomas began her quest before the height of the Pokémon GO mobile app. But she has reached a block in the process, like a bottle of dried-up ink.
A Somerville tattoo artist’s quest to ink 151 Pokemon characters on 151 different clients is nearly complete. https://t.co/iCvO3cixYT
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) July 16, 2016
Thomas said she’s gotten a lot of requests for tattoos of Pikachu, the whimsical yellow character most commonly associated with Pokémon. But according to the Boston Globe, there is no demand for Victreebel, “which looks like a Venus Flytrap with fangs.”
“The trouble is, who really wants a tattoo of Grimer — a poison Pokemon of the sludge variety? Or Magneton of the magnet species? Or two mushroom crab-variety Pokemon called Paras and Parasect?”
Thomas, 26, told the Globe she was hoping a “nerdy chef” would get into Exeggcute, which is a group of angry eggs.
In an interview with Vice, Thomas explained how she got started as a tattoo artist.
“I went to art school for printmaking, and did that for a couple of years after school. I realized that it’s more of a dying field, like film photography, so I actually applied for a counter person position [at a tattoo parlor] and they hired me. A couple months in, they offered to apprentice me.”
Apprenticeship involves learning how to make needles, sterilize equipment, earn a bloodborne pathogen certificate, and learn to use a tattoo machine, according to Tattoodle.net. Besides being assistant to the artist they are studying under, apprentices act as gophers: cleaning and running errands.
Most apprentices learn the business aspects before starting to actually tattoo.
Thomas said it was a customer who got her started on the Pokémon series. She was working on one drawing and the person joked about “catch em all.”
Thomas took the idea to her manager, who thought it was great.
“I’m definitely a goal-oriented person so I figured it would be a fun project to start. I’ve seen someone try to tattoo Pokémon once in a while, but I don’t often see, from beginning to end, to tattoo every Pokémon.”
She said that she has done very little advertising beyond sharing photos on social media. Most of the Pokémon tattoos have been commissioned through word of mouth.
Original Pokemon tattoo design from a Boston tattoo artist pic.twitter.com/LtXrKJPU51
— tattoodiy (@tattoodiy) August 6, 2015
Thomas said Pikachu gets the most requests, with Bulbasaur being a close second. Her customers have been a fun group. She said she would get booked for the day, people coming in together, such as seven or eight girls all getting tattoos.
“Kind of channeling their childhood that they spent together, or something they all have in common.
“I think the best story was two brothers and their mom. They all got the Charmander, Charmeleon, and Charizard. Mom got the baby, and then her two boys got the Charmeleon and Charizard. She’s not into Pokémon but she was completely supportive of the project. She liked the idea that, even if she’s not into it, she watched her sons grow up and collect the cards, trade the cards, and battle each other. So that was probably the cutest story out of all of them.”
She added that a lot of couples wanted matching tattoos.
“A couple got the Rattata and the Raticate; I did those very early on. I was like, ‘Who is going to get rats tattooed on them?’ and they explained that they love rats and mice, and that’s what they have as pets. They were a happy couple.”
Thomas has no Pokémon tattoos herself. But for her, Pokemon has been one of the most constant things in life.
“It’s one of those parts of your childhood you can still hold on to. It’s simple and fun.”
[Image via Paul Stringer/Shutterstock]