My Visit to High Voltage Tattoo, Home of Kat Von D and L.A. Ink

01
of 09

Outside High Voltage Tattoo

High Voltage Tattoo - Los Angeles, California.

This is what High Voltage Tattoo on N. La Brea Avenue looks like. It was so understated we actually drove past it and had to turn around and come back. There's a McDonald's about a block down the street with plenty of parking, especially on a Monday night, so we parked and then walked up to the shop.

02
of 09

Inside the Shop

I was pleased to see that the shop wasn't crowded, so they shouldn't be too busy to talk. We glanced around the shop, pacing back and forth a few times, barely catching a glance from anyone there. So, then I proceeded to stand at the counter and the man sitting there - Mr. Personality - glared at me and then went back to his paperwork or whatever he was doing. Not a single person said hello or asked if they could help. hmmm.....

03
of 09

May I Speak to a Manager?

So, after pacing back and forth a few more times, feigning interest in the pinball machines and coffin seat at the front of the shop, I finally caught a young girl's attention and asked if I could please speak with a manager. Of course, she needed to know why first, so I explained that I was with About.com/New York Times and would like to take some pictures around the shop and interview someone if they had time. So, she went to go get the manager, and guess who it was? Mr. Personality himself! (Turns out his name is Dennis.)

04
of 09

The Rope

I politely explained to Mr. Personality who I was and why I'd like to take some pictures around the shop and he informed me that I could take all the pictures I wanted from the front of the store, but I was not to cross the velvet rope hung on each side of the front desk. I almost think I heard an apologetic tone in his voice as he explained that "they" get really manic about people wandering around the shop. I'm not sure who "they" are supposed to be, but apparently "they" don't have much experience in customer service and making potential clients feel welcome. If I can make myself at home and be given the full tour of any other shop in the country, it shouldn't be any different at L.A. Ink and I don't give a damn who "they" think they are.

05
of 09

Beyond the Curtain

After snapping a couple of quick shots from the front of the shop and preparing to leave, a young man approached me and said I could cross the rope after all. She told me that "she said" I could as long as I don't go beyond the velvet curtain in the back - I had to ask who he meant by "she" and he said Kat Von D herself had given permission for me to take photos around the shop. She was in a back room beyond that curtain, but was in the middle of a private appointment. So, thank you, Kat, for allowing me to step beyond the rope and take some pictures. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to see that I didn't get from the front of the room - there was no offer of a tour or even to view the sterilization area, and no one was offering their time for an interview. I basically wandered aimlessly and snapped a few shots, ready to bolt and get out of this inhospitable environment.

06
of 09

Beyond the Curtain

This guy - I believe this is Nate - actually smiled at me while I leaned in for a closer look while he worked. Since he was obviously busy, I didn't interrupt, but I did appreciate the acknowledgment. Mojo, on the other hand, who was tattooing on the other side of the room, only spoke to me to ask me not to stand so close (I was about 6 inches away) to the table the client was laying on while he worked. Sure, no problem! I'm just getting more and more warm fuzzies the longer I stay here.

07
of 09

Yede and Meds

We did meet these lovely people visiting from Denmark. This is Yede (right) and her nephew Meds (left). They didn't even know about the TV show LA Ink but were asking a tour guide where to get a tattoo in L.A. and he directed them to High Voltage. They seemed happy with their experience and I guess that's all that matters.

08
of 09

Denmark is Warmer than LA

We also met Yede's niece (unfortunately her name escapes me) after she finished getting her tattoo from Mojo. This was her first tattoo and she was very nervous, but her brother and aunt said she did great. All three of them were so nice to talk to and a refreshing change from the studio staff.

09
of 09

Finished Tattoo From LA Ink

This was the tattoo Yede and her niece both got. It's very well done, but I shudder to think that the shop minimum is $200 so you know this small tattoo cost at least that much.

Needless to say, this was a disappointing visit. TV show or not, celebrity or not, when you run a business it should be handled professionally and potential clients should be treated with respect. If you are ever treated this way in any tattoo studio, walk away. There are other shops out there with better people. Never settle and never assume all tattoo artists have rock star egos. Don't give people more credit than they deserve just because they are on TV or have celebrity status. We're all just people.

Just a few miles away from L.A. Ink, we visited a fantastic shop with the warmest and most welcoming crew. Next week, you'll be able to read about them!