Anthony Lawton decided to heavy it up right away. At 1 p.m., big bass and guitar notes from heavy metal band Mastodon filled the room, and Lawton prepared to drop color into the left side of Len Bohley’s chest. The 34-year-old Lawton, who lives in Rotterdam and has been leaving his mark on men and women since 1998, had already stenciled the pattern into friend Bohley’s pectoral — a large skull with swirls behind it. He dabbed his tattoo machine with black ink and began etching deep black lines around the “teeth” of the boney face.
Anthony Lawton of All Star Body Art in Scotia draws on client Len Bohley of Schenectady before inking. It was an early step in Bohley’s new tattoo of a large skull with swirls. The completed tattoo is seen in the top photo.
Lawton assembles his tattoo apparatus before working on Bohley's new tattoo. The tattoo machine sounds like an electric razor, humming at high speed. Lawton has blue latex gloves on his hands and a bunch of paper towels at the ready. Each time the tiny grouping mass of 14 needles — moving up and down 111 times a second — struck 1/64th of an inch to pierce Bohley’s skin and imprint color, Lawton quickly wiped away excess ink.
Lawton works on Bohley’s tattoo on the early afternoon of Jan. 19 as All Star Body Art colleague Travis Aanensen watches. Lawton works six days a week and normally schedules three clients per day.
As the needles buzzed, Lawton said reality television shows like “Miami Ink” have created positive images for tattoo artists and their studios. He’s not as crazy about follow-up shows like “New York Ink,” which he said portrays tattoo artists more like rock stars. “That’s really not how we live,” he said. “Most of us have kids and wives. We love tattooing, but we’re trying to create a future for our families.”
Lawton starts to ink the skull design on his Bohley's shoulder. “If I fall asleep, just tap me,” joked Schenectady resident Bohley, 49, manager of computer operations for the state Assembly and an Air Force veteran.
Just before 2 p.m., artist and client took a break. Bohley sat up on the table, then stood up. The outline of a black skull was visible on his left pectoral, along with redness from some skin irritation. Bohley liked the work, and was ready for Lawton to begin texture and detail work after lunch.
The final product. Bohley's new skull tattoo a few hours after it's application.
Nate Fregoe of Rotterdam shows of his body as canvas. The majority of the work was done by Anthony Lawton, owner of All Star Body Art in Scotia.
The work of Anthony Lawton, owner of All Star Body Art in Scotia. Subject Nate Fregoe of Rotterdam.
Anthony Lawton, owner of All Star Body Art in Scotia, talks with client, Juliana DeLorenzo, 18, of Schenectady, during a break from inking her tattoo.
Kara Weidow, 18, of Schenectady, left, supports her friend Juliana DeLorenzo, 18, also of Schenectady, center, as Anthony Lawton, owner of All Star Body Art in Scotia, tattoos a tender spot.
The steady hands of Lawton inscribe a saying in script on DeLorenzo waist.