Of Cabbages and Kings
Cheney's Body Language Tattoo artists have plenty of stories, art to share
By LUELLA DOW
Gary Short owns Body Language Tattoo in Cheney. He said, “In 1980 I lived in Oklahoma where tattooing wasn't licensed or allowed. I did it anyway. I practiced on myself until I got good at it. People saw my own tattoos and they'd ask, ‘Where did you get them?' and I told them, ‘I did it myself.'”
Short has had his business in Cheney since 1997. Cleanliness is very important to him. Every year he takes a bloodborne pathogen test. He said, “This business teaches you a smart way to deal with customers every day. It's easy to keep everybody healthy. This is a straight up business. I don't allow drunks or those on dope. I send them right on out the door.”
He keeps three employees busy with “tons of customers.”
“Every day is a different day,” he said. “Sometimes I have to temporarily take on the part of a counselor or psychologist. Some customers come in and tell you about themselves and they want a little counseling.”
Personally, Short likes black and white tattoos. He has many colors to choose from for those who want them. “He said, “Black never fades. I've had these since the early ‘80s.” He said inks now are durable and people take better care of their skin.
Short knows people from places like Germany and Korea. They tell others, “I got a tattoo in Cheney, Washington.” His relationships go back 30 years. He is friends with Omie James, who goes by Miami Ink, and LA Ink whose real name is Corey Miller. “He signed my leg in 2009,” Short said. Another famous friend is Lyle Tuttle.
How did Gary Short get into the business of tattooing? As a small boy he was always drawing or “doodling” as he said. For him tattooing is an art. Would you like a different design than one you've had for years? Short can change it into something else even better. There are hundreds of pictures to browse through and Short, with his artistic instincts, can give you something original if you prefer.
A friendly person, Short enjoys people. He said, “I'm easy to get along with. I do like Cheney. I raised my kids here. They went through Cheney schools. Cheney has a nice atmosphere.”
Short's customers and their likes and needs are as diverse as the designs he creates. We glance around his neat shop where there are many things to catch the eye. His employees go about their work quietly. And Short repeats, “Every day is a different day.”
Luella Dow is a Cheney-area author who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.