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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Tattoo artists giving out ink for canned food

    Rebecca Marie Sasnett
    Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat Xavier Morales, tattoo artists at Ancient Art Tattoo for 2 and a half years, colors in Pima student Kelbee Smith’s dolphin and shark tattoo at Ancient Art Tattoo on Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2014. Morales has been a tattoo artist for 6 years.

    The tattoo community is giving back on Saturday during the “Will Ink for Food” charity event at Ancient Art Tattoo studio. From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., people can bring in canned food in exchange for credit toward tattoos, and all food donated will go to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona.

    Dennis Dwyer, tattoo artist and owner of Ancient Art Tattoo, is holding Tucson’s first “Will Ink for Food” event in the hope of helping out those in the community who are in need as the holiday season approaches.

    “Most of the people here are givers, and we wanted to give something back to the community,” Dwyer said.

    Dwyer and his team of tattoo artists, including Dave Draper, Adrian Encinas and Xavier Morales, have been preparing for the event by creating countless preset “flash” tattoo designs that will each cost $80.

    Customers can come in on Saturday and pay for part or all of one of these tattoos through canned goods. Each food item donated will be equivalent to $2, so someone who donates 40 cans of food can receive a completely free tattoo. If patrons only pay for a portion of their tattoo through food donations, the rest can be paid for in cash that will go directly to the food bank as well. Any other monetary or food donations will also go to the food bank, and people are encouraged to come out and donate, whether they plan on getting a tattoo or not.

    The flash designs vary in subject matter, style and complexity, with everything from detailed flowers to a heart with the word “beer” through it; anyone willing to donate can find some form of body art that speaks to them.

    The event is functioning on a first-come, first-served basis, and no appointments are being made in advance. Ultimately, the purpose of the event is not to give out free tattoos but to help out those in need in the community.

    “The day of the event is going to be a chaotic zoo,” Draper said.

    Attendees are encouraged to arrive early if they would like a tattoo, because there are no guarantees. There will be four artists working the event, and each tattoo is expected to take an excess of an hour to complete, limiting the number of donors able to receive body art.

    Those who donate and are unable to get their tattoo done during the event will receive vouchers for the equivalent of their donations — up to the $80 limit — and can return to Ancient Art before Dec. 6 to redeem them for a tattoo of their choosing. The flash designs will be the only tattoos offered during the event, so donors who desire a custom tattoo can make an appointment within the upcoming weeks to use their voucher to pay for a portion of the tattoo.

    “We’re trying to be as accommodating as possible,” Draper said. “If someone comes in and looks at the sheets of designs and just [doesn’t] like something, we certainly don’t want them to take their canned goods and go along down the road.”

    The Ancient Art Tattoo crew has been publicizing the event for the past several weeks. Jodi Washburn, Ancient Art Tattoo’s assistant manager, has been contacting various media sources in the Tucson area, inviting over 2,000 people through the event’s Facebook page, passing out fliers and trying to get a large turnout. By Wednesday, over 100 people had already responded to the invite and were planning on attending, and the number keeps growing.

    Encinas said other tattoo shops in the area had been promoting “Will Ink for Food” and are supporting the event. The shop has also received some negative feedback from outside artists against tattooing for free, but those on the Ancient Art Tattoo team haven’t let that discourage them.

    Dwyer’s goal for the event is to collect at least 2,000 cans to donate to the food bank. The donation boxes have been set up in the shop for the past week, and donations are welcome throughout the weekend. Vouchers and tattoos will only be given during the event, but people are invited to donate whenever and whatever they can.

    “It’s really about trying to create the spirit of giving,” Dwyer said. “This is a donation from the tattoo community to Tucson.”


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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