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July 22, 2009 > Not all fine artists work on canvas

Not all fine artists work on canvas

Vince of "Tattoos by Advance" is a genius at his art

By Marty Friedman
Photos By William Mancebo

Go ahead. Ask your granddad. People were still getting tattoos in the 1980's - right out of the World War II era. The Black Panther, black rose, eagle and Old Glory, were more about the symbol itself rather than the art.

Sports were the first real breakthrough as leading athletes of the 1980's began rushing to tattoo parlors. High school kids promptly began to mirror the same tattoo graphics basketball pros showed off.

Then, as the "tough guy" image of the post war years began to wear thin, tattoo art became more feminine. What do you know? Women began flocking to tattoo parlors as well.

Today, tattoos have literally become a fashion accessory for the rich, the artistic, the older motorcycle gangs, the middle class, and yes, corporate executives, too.

Vince of "Tattoos by Advance" grew up as a penniless artist working in a dead end job.

A tattoo artist with some 12 years experience agreed to take young Vince under his wing. He not only taught him all the ins and outs of tattooing, he sold him his first machines and colors.

It was a different time, especially when it came to the needles: lots of pins, soldering and tying with string and tape.

Well, the times they are a-changing. Today the tattoo artist can buy a box of 50 needles for around $12, a huge saving in cost and time.

Just why do people get tattooed? There are almost as many reasons as there are people. Feeling happy? Get a tattoo. Feeling sad, stressed, flush, or broke? Get a tattoo. Got divorced? As Vince put it, "She can take everything but she can't take my tattoo."

Vince is particularly proud that "Tattoos by Advance" was Fremont's first professionally licensed parlor way back in 1991. In spite of the recession, business remains good. For example, many people want the 4" tattoo they got in the 1990's expanded to cover their shoulder, clear down to their elbow. Between his website and word of mouth, Vince has his hands full, literally.

Has he ever goofed while doing a tattoo? Almost never - but if it happens Vince told us, you need to get creative. "One other tattoo artist had another solution when he ruined a tattoo a few years ago," Vince said. "He left town."

Take note: The cost for a tattoo can run anywhere from $60 to two thousand dollars and more.

In a very real sense, Advance isn't just a tattoo parlor. It's a fine artist's studio.

Tattoos by Advance
3909 Washington Boulevard, Fremont
(510) 438-9842

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