Northwestern students travel to Chicago for tattoos


Molly Lubbers/The Daily Northwestern

Weinberg sophomore Carter Makice shows off one of their tattoos. To get their tattoos, Makice travels into Chicago or does stick-and-poke tattoos on campus.

Max Lubbers, Assistant City Editor

When Weinberg sophomore Carter Makice started Northwestern, they didn’t have any tattoos — now, they said they have around 10. However, they initially couldn’t find any local shop options; they said Google Maps once showed them a tattoo place in Evanston, but when they went there, it didn’t exist.

There are no tattoo shops with Evanston addresses listed in The Real Yellow Pages Directory for Evanston. Instead, nearly all 136 listings are based in Chicago.

So, some students venture into Chicago for their tattoos. Since being in college, Medill sophomore Avery Adams said they’ve gotten about 19 or 20 tattoos, and for the majority, they went to Chicago shops.

Adams said they try to go to a different person for each tattoo.

“I’ve definitely hit a lot of the artists I wanted, so I think I might return one day,” they said. “But there’s so many artists that come to Chicago, so I think I’m going to stick to a minimal amount of one or two per artist because there’s so many interesting styles.”

Both Adams and Makice said they follow tattoo artists on social media to decide who they might go to next.

Makice said they want another tattoo, but they are saving up for it. Other students also said they had to consider the price of tattoos.

SESP sophomore Lucas Vime-Olive said he went to Taylor Street Tattoo during a flash sale to get his first tattoo. He said the cheapness of the sale — the tattoo cost about $40 — was the biggest draw for him.

Flash sales allow customers to choose from premade designs, rather than get a custom tattoo. This quarter, Vime-Olive plans to return to the shop for its Friday the 13th flash sale, and said that now he has one tattoo, he can’t stop.

“I just enjoy the idea that there’s something on you that you can always have be there,” he said. “There’s just something beautiful about the permanence of a tattoo that I can’t really formulate into words.”

For Makice, there’s also a cheaper — and closer — option. They’ve learned how to do stick-and-poke tattoos, and said they use ink and needles ordered from Amazon and sanitary supplies from CVS Pharmacy.

Makice tattoos their own body and trades stick-and-pokes with friends. They said it’s a much more intimate and sentimental feeling, especially when they receive a friend’s design or give a tattoo of their own art.

“I remember that experience a lot more than some of the tattoos I’ve gotten in shops,” Makice said. “It feels much more like an exchange between people, which is how I feel tattooing should be.”

Makice said they originally wanted tattoos because it was a way to collect art on their body.

As people evaluate their own reasons to get a tattoo, they sometimes have questions. Adams said many ask them for tattoo shop recommendations, but they said ultimately the decision comes down to what the customer wants.

“I definitely share my experiences of which ones I thought were the best but I think it’s very open-ended,” Adams said. “I think whoever you’re drawn to, you should go for them.”

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