717 Tattoo in Highspire is always buzzing with creativity. But there is a new sound catching some attention. It’s the sound of a dying art coming back to life.
“I’m part of the new generation that helps to revive it,” said Clarke Gable, Tattoo artist.
It’s called hand tapping. “It’s two sticks and one stick has the needle at the end, so the other one is hammer,” said Gable. “Most people look at how we do it, and hear the sound, and it sounds scary you know, like loud. It’s brutal they say, but it’s not actually, once you experience it, it’s all right.”
“Kind of like bee stings over and over again, just enough to be annoying, but not terribly painful,” said Abby, tattoo client.
“This design is called a fruit from Borneo, I think it’s only found in Borneo, this type of tree. It represents new beginnings, new journey in life,” said Gable.
And Clarke’s journey with hand tapping also led him to his wife.
“The first night that we met, he tattooed me, it’s this one here on my arm,” said Cassi Romanowski, Clarke’s wife.
“It’s a unique experience. It’s a little more personal too, I feel like between you and the artists when it’s not with a machine,” said Abby.
But this art almost disappeared.
“We start with Borneo history, back in the days when the British came, they stopped tattooing and then the generation after that to their kids don’t get tattooed, don’t do it because we are different now, you know. What I do is revive it,” said Gable.
It’s a slow process taking several hours and lots of patience, but when it’s done.
“You wear it with pride, you have to show off!” said Gable.
Clarke has been doing hand tapping for 6 years. He’s traveled to over 20 different countries to share his art.