Universal Rites Tattoo

By John Darling
For the Daily Tidings
Posted Oct. 7, 2014 @ 4:57 pm

611 Siskiyou Blvd., Suite 2, Ashland
Benja Burlingame, owner • www.universalrites.com • 541-488-0611
What do you offer here? What makes you different?
Most studios tend to be similar. I’ve worked in a bunch of them, all over the country. I saw the need for a more personal, spiritual, private experience and that’s what I do. We call this our “tattoo temple.”
Everyone’s needs and concerns are taken into consideration, whether it’s a joyous occasion, a memorial or a declaration of a new intention. Tattoos are about personal transformation. It can be healing, empowerment, recognition of a great experience, your beliefs.
By transforming your physical form, you transform your inner world, your spirit, soul, destiny.
Tell us about yourself and how you got here.
I was born and raised in Walnut Creek (Calif., in the Bay Area). No one in my family was into tattoos. I had a calling, a fascination. I became an artist doodling on my homework. I went to the San Francisco Academy of Art, in illustration. I decided to make this my career path.
You definitely have to be an artist first. It’s like being an engineer and having to learn math first. I developed my skills and abilities. I worked all over, in Texas, Washington D.C., Minnesota. I worked in San Francisco at the famous Erno’s, with a lot of celebrity tattoo artists.
What’s your favorite art genre?
My favorite is art nouveau. It’s such a blend of the refined, stylized and the raw, organic. But you have to be well-rounded in this business, as you interact with all kinds of clients. Tattooing is like doing a Buddhist sand painting. You put a lot of mojo into it, then you blow it away and never see it again.
What are your prices?
It’s $80 minimum or $100 to $120 an hour. That’s needle-to-skin time. But all work includes a lot of consultation, stenciling, clean-up. I probably end up making $20 an hour.
A quote from the shop website:
“I see it as my ability and purpose to interpret inner aspects of the personality and soul and personify them in a work of art that speaks to each client’s individuality, vibration, and intention.”
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at [email protected].

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