• Can I use Numbing creams?

    Topical lidocaine creams such as bactine or bandaid are available over the counter at most drug stores. A wide variety of products are available online as well. However use of so called “numbing creams” can complicate the process and could be problematic for healing it is recommended that these products be used only sparingly. I prefer only to use them on larger scale long session work only as the seem to have little to no numbing effect on smaller quicker tattoos.

  • Should I eat or drink before my tattoo?

    It is a good idea to make sure you eat within an hour or so of your appt time. Nothing heavy. Some folks can experience a small amount of nausea do to the nervous stress that can build in anticipation of their tattoo. A greasy burger is not likely to sit well on your stomach if this becomes the case. I encourage clients to bring a light snack and drink with you. Something like a granola bar and juice is recommended but chips and soda are fine if that’s more your speed. Main thing is your body will use up a lot of blood sugar during the process so you want a quick source of fast acting sugar such as juice, soda, candy etc and a source of long lasting carbohydrates such as a granola bar/ chips,crackers etc. Drink plenty of water before you get tattooed and throughout the healing process if possible. This will help give your skin an extra boost of hydration which will help both the application and the healing process. Caffeinated beverages should be avoided prior to getting tattooed and should be reduced during the healing process if possible. Caffeinated beverages such as soda, coffee and tea not only dehydrate your body but they can raise blood pressure. This can cause swelling and increased bleeding during the tattoo process which could result in thicker scabbing and loss in color retention. You may choose to take some Ibuprofen before you get tattoo as it can help reduce the potential swelling from the tattoo however blood thinners such as aspirin should be avoided.

  • Tips to reduce swelling and bruising.

    Here are a few tips to Minimize Bruising and Swelling

    1. Apply a cold compress to the swollen area.

    This can be as simple as a pack of frozen peas or a cool washcloth. Don't apply frozen compresses or ice directly to the skin. Instead, wrap the cold element in a clean, fluff-free material like cheesecloth or muslin cloth. Leave the compress on the swollen area for about 30 minutes. This will reduce blood flow and limit bleeding into the skin, thus reducing bruising and swelling. It will also alleviate pain and inflammation and speed up the healing process.

    2. Elevate the part of the body with the swollen tattoo.

    Keep the swollen tattoo above your heart if possible, it may help to lay down. Body areas below the heart, have a higher probability of blood flow into the area, increasing bruising and swelling.

    You should attempt to keep the tattoo raised whenever possible for the first 24 hours.

    3. Avoid all blood thinners after getting a tattoo, including Aspirin.

    If you need to take a painkiller, try ibuprofen and panadol, taking them exactly as the packaging suggests. Consider stopping any blood-thinning medications, but always consult your doctor first.

    4. After 48 hours, apply a warm washcloth to increase blood circulation in the area, which will now help your body mend.

    You should do this for 10 to 15 minutes, three to four times a day. Alternating between cold and hot compresses can increase your tattoo's healing rate. Ensure you use a hygienic cloth and wash your tattoo after applying the compress to avoid introducing a foreign body, which could result in an infection.

    Diet Tips to Aid the Recovery Process

    Iron supplement
    100 to 200 mg of elemental iron per day has been recommended. The best way to take the supplement so that you absorb the greatest amount of iron is to take it in two or more doses during the day.

    Vitamin k
    Vitamin K comes in two forms.
    The first type is known as vitamin K-1 or phylloquinone and can be found in plants, such as spinach and kale.
    The second is known as vitamin K-2 or menaquinone and is found in the body and created naturally in the intestinal tract.
    Both vitamin K-1 and vitamin K-2 produce proteins that help the blood to clot. Blood clotting or coagulation prevents excessive bleeding internally and externally.
    While vitamin K deficiency is rare, it means a person's body cannot produce enough of these proteins, increasing the risk of excessive bleeding.

    Eat more garlic and onion. Besides keeping away people who get too close, these foods assist healing because of their anti-microbial elements.

    Eat more vitamin C. Vitamin C is commonly found in citrus fruits and sweet vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, and sweet potatoes. This vitamin is a natural defensive aid in tissue repair and recovery.

    Steer totally clear of alcohol. Not only is it a blood thinner, but it will also cause you to be less protective and careful with your new tattoo.

    Drink plenty of healthy fluids. Water, soups, juices, and herbal teas are particularly good for you.

    Avoid consuming extra dairy products, white flour, sugar, and processed foods. These are known to slow down recovery time periods.

    17 Foods to eat for anemia
    Meat has the highest and most usable form of iron that humans need. Meat contains heme iron, which is easy for the body to absorb and use. The highest concentrations of heme iron are found in organ meat, including kidneys, hearts, and livers. Liver is also high in other anemia-fighting nutrients, including vitamin B12 and zinc.
    Ways to Add Meat to Your Diet:
    Eat meat in about 3 ounce servings. This contains the amount of heme iron your body needs for the day.
    Eat one serving of an organ meat or red meat to your diet daily.
    Spinach is high in several of the vitamins that prevent anemia. Spinach is high in vitamin C, folic acid, and iron. Just half a cup of cooked spinach contains about 20 percent of the iron that you need in a day.
    Ways to Add Spinach to Your Diet:
    Include spinach on sandwiches and in salads.
    Sauté spinach with butter or oil as a side dish for warm meals.
    Add spinach to soups.
    Peanut Butter
    Peanut butter doesn't seem like it could do much to fight anemia, but peanuts contain a surprising number of nutrients. Simply select a peanut butter with no added sugar and you will receive the benefits of peanut butter without the dangers of increasing your sugar intake. Peanuts are high in iron and a serving of peanut butter contains about 10 percent of the iron you need everyday.
    Ways to Add Peanut Butter to Your Diet:
    Use peanut butter on your toast in the morning instead of jelly.
    Eat a traditional PB&J sandwich for lunch once or twice a week.
    Add peanut butter to sauces and soups to add a rich, nutty flavor.
    Beats are high in iron, vitamin C, B vitamins, and other minerals. Beets are helpful in repairing any damage to existing blood cells and producing new, healthy blood cells. When your blood cells are activated, they are more efficient at carrying oxygen throughout the body.
    Ways to Add Beets to Your Diet:
    Add cubes or slices of beets to a salad.
    Juice beets in a juicer and add the juice to a smoothie or homemade juice.
    Boil beets and eat them as a side dish.
    Cube boiled beets and cover them with olive oil and vinegar for a refreshing summer salad.
    Dates and Apples
    Both apples and dates are high in iron and other essential nutrients that prevent anemia. Apples and dates are high in vitamin C, helping your body boost the nutrients it receives from all other sources. Just one apple or 10 dates a day will help reduce and prevent anemia symptoms.
    Tomatoes are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, which are both incredibly healthy for your body. The nutrients in tomatoes will not only boost the absorption of other vitamins, but will also help prevent anemia from the inside out.
    Ways to Add Tomatoes to Your Diet:
    Add a raw tomato to one meal each day.
    Juice a tomato and add it to smoothies, soups, or sauces.
    Add tomatoes to hot dishes you make at home.
    Pomegranates are high in iron and vitamin C. They are known for their boost to blood flow and overall health. Pomegranates are also high in electrolytes, which can help reduce symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, and dizziness.
    Ways to Add Pomegranate to Your Diet:
    Drink pomegranate juice several times a week.
    Add pomegranate to salads.
    Snack on pomegranate in place of other fruit.
    Molasses (particularly blackstrap molasses) is high in a variety of minerals and iron. This makes it an effective remedy for reducing anemia symptoms. One tablespoon of molasses contains about 20 percent of the iron you need to eat daily.
    Ways to Add Molasses to Your Diet:
    Add molasses to baked goods in place of sugar.
    Sweeten your coffee, tea, and other beverages with a bit of molasses.
    Use molasses where you normally would use sugar.
    Peaches, Raisins, and Prunes
    Prunes, peaches, and raisins are surprisingly high in iron. Even though you won't get all the iron you need from a single peach or raisin, it is helpful to know that these foods contain notable levels of iron and can be an easy source of added iron in the diet. A salad of peaches, raisins, and prunes can be an excellent source of iron and other nutrients.
    Eggs are a superfood that can help with a host of health problems. Eggs are high in B vitamins and other essential nutrients. Each egg contains about 10 percent of the daily recommended intake for iron. Just eating one egg daily can make a large difference.
    Soybeans are high in iron and minerals. Soybeans are particularly high in iron.
    Ways to Add Soy Beans to Your Diet:
    Eat tofu.
    Purchase frozen soy beans and eat them as an appetizer or side dish.
    Add soy beans to a smoothie.
    Seafood and other fish are high in B vitamins, iron, and other nutrients. Tuna, salmon, mussels, and oysters are particularly high in B12 and iron. Try to eat fish at least twice a week for the iron and nutrient boost.
    All nuts contain iron, minerals, and a few other nutrients. Brazil nuts are particularly helpful in preventing anemia as they are incredibly high in selenium. A handful of Brazil nuts is enough to provide all the selenium you need in a day. However, other nuts are also high in iron and selenium, including pistachio nuts.
    Just like molasses, honey can also be beneficial in fighting anemia. Honey contains magnesium, iron, and copper, which are all important for preventing and reversing anemia. Simply use honey wherever you would use sugar for an instant nutrient boost.


    1.We tend not to think of a tattoo as a wound, but as far as your immune system can tell, it's the same thing as a scratch or scrape.

    2.Leave the tattoo bandaged for at least two hours. This will give the body plenty of time to stop bleeding.

    3.Remove the bandage and wash your hands with antibacterial soap then use your clean hands and warm water to wash your tattoo. Do not use a washrag or sponge.

    4. A shower is the best way to wash your tattoo. With this first shower , the warmer the water the better. The warmer water will open your pores. Simply washing your tattoo with clean hands and the warm water will be enough. Do not soak your tattoo.

    5. After washing your tattoo allow your tattoo to air dry. Do not use a bath towel or paper towels as these can irritate your new tattoo.

    6. As you sleep your tattoo may continue ooze out a little more clear liquid, called plasma. I feel its best to rebandage your tattoo with plastic wrap or a non-adherent (non stick) bandage overnight, this will help keep your tattoo clean and keep it from sticking to you clothes or your sheets.

    7.In the morning remove the plastic wrap or non stick bandage and wash your tattoo. Your new tattoo will may shed a colored sludge when you wash, these are dead skin cells and this is a normal part of healing.

    8.Your tattoo is no longer and open wound and you do not need to rebandage it; however, it is still important to wash your tattoo every day. Keep your tattoo clean and as open to air as possible and avoid tight clothing around the tattoo as this can irritate your new tattoo.

    9.Your tattoo will begin to shed thin flakes of skin similar to a healing sunburn and may have small amounts or minor scabbing.

    10.DO NOT PICK OR SCRATCH your tattoo while it is healing, this can pull out color and cause infection.

    11.As the old skin layer sheds off the new skin layer growing in may appear shiny and is not yet transparent this may cause your tattoo to look dull or faded. During this process your tattoo may become dry and feel itchy.

    12.If the Dryness or itch of your healing tattoo becomes too uncomfortable you may choose to moisturize your skin with a plain unscented white hand lotion. It's is best to apply lotion only after you have washed your hands and your tattoo and no more than twice a day.Use a very small amount of lotion then blot it off with a paper towel.

    13.Most tattoos that heal hard do so because the client has used too much ointment or lotion, it clogs those pores and makes big thick scabs.

    14.Your tattoo should heal within four weeks. Avoid swimming and tanning for the first four weeks and if your tattoo is located in an area that is normally shaved avoid shaving that area for four weeks.

    15.Your tattoo may fade slightly after healing. I recommend waiting a minimum of 6 weeks before any touch up work to allow the underlying skin to completely heal.

    16.Tanning beds or exposure to the sun will fade your tattoo. After your tattoo is fully healed use SPF 45 sunblock and lotion everyday to keep it bright and beautiful for many years to come!

    Proper sleep, nutrition and good hygiene along with a daily multivitamin are great ways to keep a strong immune system and this will help your tattoo heal.

    Above all else keep it clean and don't itch it, pick it, or scratch it.

  • pricing

    So the big question on everyone's mind is always ...'how much?"

    The best way to get a price quote on your tattoo is to look through portfolios first to find the artist or artists you may be interested in doing the work for you. You may hear different prices from different artist and shops however a "good price" does not always mean you will get "good work" and conversely just because someone charges more does not make them better. Once you have found your artist it is best to contact them and setup a consultation. It is during this time that you can discuss ideas, get measured and have some face to face time with the artist and make sure you have a "good vibe" from them.You two might be spending a lot of time together and its important to have a good relationship with that artist in addition to knowing you will be getting the work that you are expecting and paying are fair price for it.

    On average most tattoo parlors charge $100-$150/hr but this doesn't go to the artist, this goes to the shop. The artist only makes a percentage of this and is required to use their own supplies and equipment and pay their own taxes as well. Tattooers also do not receive an hourly wage so all those hours we spent custom drawing your tattoo instead of just tracing it out of a book is done out of love for our craft.

    Its not mandatory to tip but it is greatly appreciated as this money that will go directly to the artist and their supplies as the shop does not take a commission of this money.Though it is common for people to tip 10-20% some clients tip with food, coffee, neat little gifts etc. its just a way to show your artist that you appreciate them going the extra mile for you and that you enjoy the time you spend together even if you are being put into pain.

    We accept cash, credit and debit though cash is preferable.
    Just like at the pump cash may fetch you a better price so be sure to mention to your artist in advance if you plan to play in cash or credit.

    As an artist I love doing custom tattoos I can really put my special touch on and for these tattoos I am willing to give great price breaks.. consider it a favor returned for allowing me creative freedom. The more freedom you give me, the better the price. Additionally, the longer you can sit for a tattoo the better it will look as opposed to only sitting for an hour or two. If i have to wait a month to tattoo you again I then have to try to figure out where we left off. I would much rather tattoo you for four hours or even a whole day.

  • About Me

    Hey there my name is David Zobel. Thanks for giving the me the opportunity to tell you a little about myself. I am thirty five years young and the proud father of my eight year old son, Elijah. I have been tattooing since 1999. I got my start in Richmond, VA and have worked around the country and even overseas. My favorite trips have been to Seattle, WA here in the states and to Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Both were very laid back places with lots of amazing artwork everywhere. I have been honored to have met many friends during my travels and learned from many great artists along the way.
    When I am not tattooing I enjoying drawing and painting and dabble in sculpting and photography. I also like to run one or two 5-10k races a month and recently competed in the wintergreen spartan obstacle race and next year i will be participating in a few tough mudders and similar events. I have recently gotten very interested in archery as well as camping in the blue ridge mountains and hiking alongside the Appalachian trail.

  • "Consultations- the meet and greet"

    So you've seen my work and would like to get a tattoo. The next step is to email me your ideas, reference photos and a paragraph or two about why you are getting the tattoo and the symbolism behind it as well as a bit of backstory about yourself. This may seem unnecessary, but I find it helps me get into the mindset of the client to understand why they are getting the tattoo as well as I encourage you to tell me about your favorites music, movies and inspirations etc. This extra step will help me create a unique experience designed to fit you when you are here. By tailoring your tattoo and experience to suit the client, I feel it helps them relax and puts their mind at ease, ultimately allowing me to create a better tattoo.

    Consultations can be done in person or via webcam through FaceTime or Skype

  • "my style and influences"

    Early influences come mostly from comic books as well as the H.R. Giger, Dali, Luis Royo and Robert Williams. The funky pop art of Ed Roth, Coop and Frank Kozik. and the pinup works of Gil Evergreen, Olivia and Varga.

    As I have gotten older, my style has matured and I now draw inspiration from the work of Alphonse Mucha, creator of the style which later became known as "art noveau" as well as the many oil painters of the renaissance such as Rembrandt, Raphael and Rubens to name a few. I enjoy working in both black and grey as well as full color for both my artwork as well as my tattooing. While I can tattoo every style from old school (traditional Americana), new school (graffiti and anime influenced), horimono irezumi (traditional Japanese),
    illustrative (watercolor/ oil painting inspired) and Photo realism (duplicating a photo onto skin). I prefer to work in a style I refer to as "illustrative realism"

  • "pain management"

    Lidocaine sprays and creams are very beneficial to large tattoos to lessen the pain of continued tattooing over long sessions, "bactine" is a great example of this as are its generic alternatives. Ibuprofen can be taken to reduce swelling and inflammation. "Valerian root" and/ or "kava kava" are herbal supplements that are available at most vitamin shoppes and will help relax you. Please limit your caffeine intake and do not drink energy drinks prior to or during your session as this is counterproductive to sitting still. There is no substitution for a good night's sleep the night before a tattoo and you should eat no less than an hour before your tattoo. It is recommended you bring a snack or two as well as a drink to help you maintain your nutrients during your tattoo session. I would recommend fruit, nuts or granola as opposed to candy, chips or fast foods as the natural foods will be absorbed better by your body and are less likely to leave you feeling sick to your stomach.

  • Photo realism vs. illustrative realism

    'Photo Realism" refers to the process of creating artwork that is as true to life and nature as possible and often references or photos are used to create realist details shapes and forms. In realism you tattoo everything "as is" with little to no deviation from the original reference. The goal here is to replicate, not innovate. However in "illustrative realism" artistic liberty may be taken to create the best image possible, such as adding increasing contrast perspective and foreshortening adding outlines and design elements to certain components to enhance it's readability to the viewer as well as the longevity on the design. This creates a signature look to the art and the goal of this form is to make a imagined object look as three dimensional as possible. I consider this to be the best style for me as it plays well to my strengths as a realism artist and to create a tattoo that will stand the test of time. In my opinion "illustrative realism" is the apex that respective arts of painting, photography and tattoo merge into on cohesive style. I create in a style that serves tattooing both today and tomorrow. I strive for balance and simplicity in design and incorporate many techniques to achieve this harmony.

  • "Flow and Fit- no two bodies the are the same"

    I often will draw sections of the design on freehand to flow with the curvature of the client and better fit the body of the wearer. I will take several tracings of the area that the tattoo is to be placed along with preliminary drawings done directly onto the skin.

  • "The importance of line weight"

    While it is true that a tattoo with enough contrast will look good for many years, a tattoo will always look best if started with an outline since they must withstand the harsh sunlight and many years of cellular breakdown as we age. This is the illustrative portion of my style. I use three line weights to achieve depth to my design before I even begin the shading or color the tattoo,so it already possesses a three dimensional quality. I use a bold line for the priority image and bold details this line thickness will be viewed first by your eyes and will appear to be closest to you in the foreground. Second I use a thinner line about half the width of the bold line to create secondary details. These are design details that are important but might clutter the overall design if they where all the same width. Thirdly I use a vanishing line, this is a line which gives a hard edge to the shape it holds but then blends into the shape itself so there is no line when completed. This is referred to as a hard edge.

  • "Using edges and shapes to create depth of field"

    There are no lines in nature; however, there are edges both hard and soft based on the distance and focus of the viewer. Think of a photograph, the lens, like your eye, can only focus on one main image at a particular distance at a given time. This is called depth of field and is widely used in macro and landscape photography. It tells our eyes what the main focus of the piece should be and allows the soft focus elements play supporting roles. Both however are equally important.

  • "Grey wash vs. Blacks and Greys"

    Monochromatic refers to artwork created with tints and tones of a single color. While achromatic refers to artwork done solely in white, black and values of gray. An example of this may be seen in a simple black and white photograph. Commonly referred to as "black and grey" or "grey wash". Though both techniques can be used to create a three dimensional quality through the use of shadow and light. the end result however looks very different from one another. Grey wash is often used to create such high detailed pieces as photo realistic portraits. Black and grey is used to create lower detail tattoos that need to be bold and saturated. When shading a grey wash contrast, the value describes the ratio or proportion of black to skin showing through the shading.These shades are achieved through a combination of pure black and diluted blacks to achieve high contrast and soft subtle blends. "Black and grey" on the other hand is created by adding white to black to create a wide variety of tonal values because the the pigment is not thinned during this process the end result is more saturated which pigment and results in a bolder tattoo. While this technique is used for more simplistic tattoos it can create beautiful blends as well and incorporate into color tattoos better than grey wash. Ultimately the choice of
    technique is dictated by the detail demands of the tattoo the request of the client and the overall look of the tattoo.

  • "Creating contrast through color"

    The most important of all this is tonal value or contrast. Whether you have lines or no lines, edges are hard or soft, none of this matters if you do not have maximum contrast in your tattoo.The reason bright colors look bright is because of the dark colors around them with them. In traditional tattooing, this is derived solely from the use of black shading. In painting depth is achieved both with black and with the use of cooling or tempering with complementing or opposing colors.

  • "The Color wheel"

    The color wheel is an artist's tool that creates a visual reference of the colors of the light spectrum and demonstrates how colors relate to one another. Colors that are opposite one another on the color wheel are called complimentary colors and will make one other seem more vibrant and saturated when place next each other.

  • "warm vs. cool colors"

    Color temperature classifies colors into two main groups. The first group is warm colors which are those that are based primarily in red, orange and yellow. The
    second is cool colors which are those based primarily in violet, blue and green. Warm colors will seem closer to you and cool colors will appear to be farther away.

  • "Complimentary vs. analogous"

    Complementary colors when blended or mixed with each other will create a dark gray almost black shadow. Adding grey to a color is called toning. Colors that are next to one another on the color wheel are called analogous colors. These color are similar to the original color but are a step or two warmer or cooler depending on the use. Analogous colors are important for blending one color into its neighboring color.

  • "Shading colors with black"

    Adding black to a color is a process called shading and will add contrast quickly to a tattoo or painting. However not all colors blend well with black. I prefer to shade from full black and tone with the color's complement then blend using a cooler analogous.

  • "Warming and lightening"

    Colors can also be warmed by using the colors analogous neighbor or lightened by tinting through the use of white. I use white sparingly as a highlight as it tends to fade the fastest when exposed to the sun. I enjoy using white however in my color blending and use it to lighten a colors intensity to create a wide variety of unique colors that resemble the look of pastel, watercolor and oil paintings help lead a signature look to my work.

  • "Color selection"

    The colors i select and create for each tattoo are dictated by the overall mood of the piece and chosen to suit the wearer. For men I choose bolder colors closer to there primary source. While for women I choose colors that are softer and more complex in there mixtures.

  • "color reserve- limiting my palette"

    This is where my work has matured the most over time. Many years ago I believed that more colors made a better tattoo but now I realize that limiting myself to one or two main color families that contrast each other and using the similar hues to blend with those families creates a significantly better look to the tattoo and lends itself much better to looking great for the life of the tattoo.