In Ink Spot, Amy Price stops strangers in Dallas to shoot, and learn about, their body art.
Hustling from bench to bench with handles of my favorite bottomless mimosas, Amber Miller, a 29-year-old server at Barcadia and make-up artist, attracted a lot of attention on a recent visit. Not just because she can juggle an inordinate number of drinks in two hands while running through the packed bar and dealing with intoxicated SMU students, but also because she is covered with many, many tattoos. See also: A Tattooed Veteran Tells His War Stories Through His Body Art
Displayed on the top of her left arm is a life-like image of the iconic Marilyn Monroe. "Marilyn is the ultimate beauty," Miller told me. Marilyn is also the tattoo she is most asked about. "If I had a dollar every time someone asked me about this tattoo it would have more than paid for what it cost -- three times as much actually."
The praying hands on her inner bicep represent her family's strong religious ties. "Just growing up it's just something that's rooted in me."
Nestled in the nook between her arm and collarbone is the well-known Hello Kitty trademark. This intrigued me since it did not seem to match up with the adjacent half sleeve, so I asked. "Well it matches my credit card," Miller said, brandishing the shiny plastic black, white and pink Hello Kitty card.
In a small collection above her left wrist is the traditional "13 tattoos," except these are all custom-made from Elm Street Tattoo. "They're all custom I don't like to get anything off the wall," Miller said. "The lipstick -- I'm a make-up artist ... and of course what girl wouldn't want a cupcake."
On Miller's right side is a ferocious leopard surrounded by traditional red roses. Miller said it was the most painful tattoo, especially around the "boobie" area. Most of Miller's tattoos have a central theme, leopard theme. "I just like leopard print, I don't know why I just always have."
Miller has received most of her work from Elm Street Tattoo, but is an avid collector of shops all around the Dallas metropolis. She said she gets a lot of questions from strangers wanting to know about her artwork, and for the most part she politely obliges. Unless it's one of the creepy ones who want to touch her, or the ones who ask the redundant questions.
"I get the typical question 'Did it hurt?' I mean come on, it tickled. I want to say, 'No they were licked on by unicorns.'"
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