sugar & spikes: ‘under the needle’ web series by the makers of ‘color outside the lines’ docu

August 1, 2012

While I never regret any of my own tattoos, I won’t be attending another tattoo party where you can not only snag a 2 for 1 tattoo special, a free beer is also thrown in to sweeten the deal. The result? I am left with 2 very sloppy tattoos that look like it was drawn from a sharpie by a 5yr old, which serves as a constant reminder that cheap prices will not guarantee you quality work. With the economy in turmoil, there are many people aching for more tattoo work but unable to afford it. Predators with a tattoo gun aiming to make a quick buck, take advantage of this fact and with limited resources that show you the consequences of rushing to get cheap work, too many people are falling victim to their hands. Fortunately, the filmmakers of the historic documentary “Color Outside the Lines” brings us “Under the Needle”, a new web series providing viewers with insight into what you as a consumer, should look for when you make the decision to get a tattoo. The series explores the different styles of body art, techniques used, how artists come up with their ideas and you actually will get a chance too see the artists apply these works of art to skin.

Words by Mika Kenyah

“Under the Needle”, features Atlanta based artist, Paper Frank in its first episode. Paper Frank works out of the shop, City of Ink where we learn that they only do custom work and any interested human canvas should be expected to have their piece sketched directly onto them, sans stencil. The shot of Frank sketching a squid on his client is beautifully done and well lit where you feel like you are standing right over his shoulder watching him take you through the process from start to finish of this particular technique. I found this episode extremely informative for those who are looking for original artwork but afraid to work with an artist who does not use a stencil. Frank also explains the different colors used to sketch the piece on different shades of skin, pointing out red is always best to use on darker skin.


The web series also does a great job of highlighting the artist’s personality as we learn from Frank that he cares about his work and when tattooing a client, his main focus is not damaging his/her skin and how his client is feeling throughout the session. This is a side of an artist, a consumer doesn’t often get to see of their artist before booking a session. It is comforting to get to know the person behind the needle, beyond their portfolio.
When the documentary was initially shot, Paper Frank was just an apprentice under Miya Bailey; cleaning and running errands for the other artists of the show. Now, Paper Frank is one of the hottest up and coming tattoo artists with a growing following who is recognizing his unique talents and extraordinary artwork.
“Under the Needle” is reality programming at its finest with a real look inside the art form and not focused on dramatic plot lines.
I look forward to upcoming episodes of this web series, as you can definitely get a sense of Under the Needle aiming to further the tattoo consumer’s education and appreciation for tattooing.