When the kit arrived, Biggie's on-again, off-again girlfriend volunteered her hip as a canvas. They scurried upstairs after the girlfriend's mom left for church one Sunday. Biggie wasn't entirely sure how to hold the machine; still, she managed to turn out a heart with a treble clef. Satisfied, she went to work on her own lower leg, etching a four-inch-tall Marvin the Martian into her dark-brown skin.

"I knew nothing about inks, and the kit came with cheap, water-based ink," she recalls. "I hated the color; it wasn't popping... I sat on my sister's porch and just scratched it and peeled off the skin. It burned; it got pink."

It healed, she did a touchup, and Marvin now looks OK. In the years that followed, Biggie did the Craigslist and word-of-mouth thing. She couldn't afford to do an apprenticeship — some shops offer them as unpaid internships, and other shops even make the apprentices pay. A break of sorts came last November, when she landed a chair at a new shop downtown called Ink Obsessions Mia. It seemed like an ideal first foray into legitimate tattooing.

A botched Hulk tattoo that Louie salvaged.
Courtesy of Louie
A botched Hulk tattoo that Louie salvaged.
Louie tattooing Dony at his condo in Hialeah this February.
Chris Sweeney
Louie tattooing Dony at his condo in Hialeah this February.

The small shop pulls decent foot traffic with deals such as 25 percent off for students and $250 full sleeves. Its ambiance is coarse, and the lack of a bathroom is perplexing. If someone needs to go, he has to leave the shop, walk next door to the Miami Sun Hotel, go down a long hallway, and explain to the lady at the front desk that he's from the tattoo shop. The owner of the hotel owns the property of the tattoo shop, so it's not entirely weird. It's unclear if this arrangement will meet the criteria under the new rules.

Biggie says she didn't mind putting in long hours — 11 or 12 a day on occasion — even though she cleared only a few hundred bucks a week (the shop took half of her revenue, which isn't unusual). Having to push two chairs together so people could lie down for certain tattoos wasn't a big deal either. It was the bathroom, or lack of one, that ended her run at the shop.

"It's embarrassing," Biggie says, shifting her round eyes toward the ground to explain why she left. "It was that time of the month, you know?" After having to wait too long to leave for a break, she quit.

She has since been relying on word of mouth, Tumblr, and Craigslist to pull in a handful of clients each month. Told of the guild's plans to go after artists like her as well as shops like the one she worked at, Biggie shakes her head and says it doesn't make any sense.

"The only way I'd be able to pay tattooing fines," she says, "is by doing more tattoos."

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biologix.solutions
biologix.solutions

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cubanogm
cubanogm

They kill themselves.I wanted a spiderweb on my elbow and they wanted $360.00 bucks.BS.That kind of money for a few lines is thievery.They all are bandids.They should all be driven out of the busiuness.In fact tattooing should be made illegal.AsI said they re all hoods.

 
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