Artist inks his legacy
By RANDY GONZALES
In his 22 years in the business full-time, Art Gregory has seen it all.
"Some of it, I wish I could un-see," said Gregory, who owns Fantasy Graphics Tattoo Studio, 219 E. Eighth.
Then Gregory sees something like what happened one recent afternoon. Gregory's apprentice, Dan Chapman, was putting the finishing touches on a tattoo for Don White, Ellinwood. White, 22, was having a Viking ship inked on his right arm, in memory of a friend who died.
"Friend of mine from Ellinwood was into Vikings really big," White said. "I figured I had to get something in memory of."
Gregory also was applying ink to a customer at the time, with smooth jazz music playing softly in the background.
Owning a tattoo studio was music to Gregory's ears; it just took awhile for him to get there. Teaching art after going to school at Fort Hays State University didn't appeal to Gregory, who instead worked for 15 years in the oil patch, and tattooed part-time.
Gregory finally started his own tattoo business in 1991. Back then, it was located behind Pete Felten's Stone Gallery. Gregory stayed there for 13 years, until moving to his present location.
"I got to doing this as a hobby," said Gregory, 63. "When the oil field got slow there in the late '80s, early '90s, I got out and went tattooing full-time."
What helped Gregory's business become a success was the influence of MTV in the 1990s, making tattoos more popular among younger people, he said.
"It wasn't until the college kids, it started getting popular with them, that I really figured out it was going to be a (good) deal," Gregory said. "MTV, that's how it all started."
One change Gregory has seen through the years is more women in the shop wanting to be inked; now, about half of his customers are women.
The amount of pain in getting a tattoo depends on the person, and where the tattoo is being applied, Gregory said.
"Different places are different levels of pain," he said. "People's tolerances are different, too. Some people hurt quite a bit; others don't even feel it."
One of the more popular tattoos these days is the infinity symbol, Gregory said, adding crosses are always popular.
Gregory waited until he was 31 to get his first tattoo.
"I'd been riding Harleys most of my life, and my first tattoo was a Harley," he said. "That was the first thing I could put on me that I figured I could live with the rest of my life."
That's not always the case. As a result, coverup tattoos have become a big part of the business.
"People come in with something that they're sorry they got," Gregory said. "A prime example is a significant other's name that is not a significant other anymore.
"We'll design another tattoo to go over the top of that tattoo, change it into something else."