LA Ink stars Kim Saigh (left) and Hannah Atchison
“On the show, we’ve got three female tattoo artists, a female shop manager, and only one male artist. But in almost every shop I’ve ever worked in, I’ve been the only female. So I’ve found that being around women is kind of awkward for me. First, I have a horrible pottymouth: I drop the f-bomb every other word. Second, I find myself talking about horror movies, metal shows, muscle cars, and stuff, so I have very little ability to talk to women about the usual girly subjects.
“Kim Saigh and I are a couple of Midwestern girls. Our biggest appeal is that we’re bringing out a different style. It’s the Chicago style: highly detailed, colorful illustrated stuff. You can see a lot of elements of classical illustration being pulled in: art nouveau, [children’s book artist] Arthur Rackham . . . it’s a style singular to Chicago.
“Up until I started doing it, I thought it was the role of my brother [seminal tattooist Guy Aitchison] to be the tattooer and my role to be, as Nick Hornby would say, the professional appreciator. I thought I was doomed to a series of unsatisfying corporate jobs, only to die lonely and frustrated in a basement apartment in Bayonne, New Jersey. Reality is a much less dramatic story, in a way.”
—Chicago tattoo artist Hannah Aitchison, who, along with another local, Kim Saigh, stars in LA Ink, a reality show on Tuesday nights on TLC. When she’s in Chicago, catch her at Deluxe Tattoo, 1459 W. Irving Park Rd.; 773-549-1594. —as told to Chauncey Hollingsworth
Photograph: Selena Salfen; Hair: Ashley Kucich; Makeup: Jennifer Daking