“I’ve worked in the tattoo industry for over 20 years to change the public perception of what we are,” Echols said.
Echols and Williamson, a native of Eunice, are co-owners of Eunice Ink, located on Second Street.
The proprietors said they plan to change the name to T&T Studios, and turn it into an art gallery as well, with pictures of fine art and photography.
“We’re going to push and promote our Louisiana culture as well,” said Echols.
Williamson said that tattoos of the fleur de lis, alligators, pelicans and cypress trees are becoming more popular.
Echols, a former U.S. Marine from the New Orleans area who has performed over 20,000 over his career, said that tattooing has evolved into an art form, like painting or photography, but one that uses the human body as a canvas.
Echols said that many tattoo artists are coming into the field now with fine art or commercial art backgrounds.
While some people may have given tattoo artistry a bad name, Echols said, “You shouldn’t judge all of us in the industry by what some people do. We’re trying to set a new standard in the industry. We’re really looking to explore the artistic side.”
Echols said that tattoo artists entering the field now study for two and a half years studying electronics, art, anatomy, CPR and have training in blood-borne pathogens.
Echols said that sports figures have helped change public perceptions of tattooing.
“You watch football, basketball, any sports game, and you will see tattoos. These are people who are well-respected, who are role models,” Echols said.
Television reality shows, such as “L.A. Ink” have really helped bring tattooing into the mainstream.
“They’ve helped out a lot. It’s let a lot of people know why people get tattoos, especially memorial tattoos, to remember lost loved ones,” Echols said.
Williamson agreed, but said that television editing makes the many hours of work that goes into a tattoo look easy. “It’s not 15 minutes like you see on T.V.,” he said.