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Starkville ink: New tattoo studio opens


Dragon’s Ink Tattoo and Body Piercing Studio owner Melissa Burton poses in the tattoo studio.

Dragon’s Ink Tattoo and Body Piercing Studio owner Melissa Burton poses in the tattoo studio. Photo by: Tim Pratt


Tim Pratt



Since Dragon''s Ink Tattoo and Body Piercing Studio opened nine weeks ago at the corner of University Drive and Montgomery Street, owner Melissa Burton, 27, hasn''t had a lot of free time.  


But that''s OK with her. It''s a sign that business is good.  


Dragon''s Ink is one of two tattoo studios now open in Starkville -- the other being Bulldawg Tattoos and Body Piercing on Highway 12 -- but Burton, also known as "Mrs. Boots," said she is quickly drawing a following.  


Burton is from Oklahoma City, but met her husband, Adam "Boots" Burton, a Choctaw County native, when he was stationed at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. Now, Boots is one of three tattoo artists and two piercing experts working at Dragon''s Ink. He joins fellow artists Chuck Atkins and Donnie "Fuzz" Boswell. Carla Hubbard and Moe Moiser handle the piercings.  




How did you get into this business? 


Boots. He wanted to do tattoos, and he found an artist he could sit under.  




Was that in Oklahoma City or here in Starkville? 


Here. It was Fuzz. 




Do you do any tattoo work yourself? 


No. I''m just the owner.  




Does everybody here have different specialties? 


Chuck has been in several magazines. He had Bloodline Ink in Alabama and he''s come to join us. Fuzz had a place in Sturgis called Dragon''s Ink for about a year.  




Do you get a lot of wild requests in here? 


Not really ... I don''t know if we get many wild requests. Most of the ideas that are wild are from us. You know, they''ll say "I want the artist to draw me up something." 




Can you go through what all you offer here? 


Tattoos, piercings. They all have their own specialty that they do, just in their art in general. Boots glass-etches. All three of them can airbrush. There''s also the woodburning. Chuck does portraits; he''s working with Boots because that''s what Boots wants to do. Chuck is an awesome artist. He does all his own custom work. They all do actually. But what happens when somebody comes in and they want a special piece, which we try to not really talk them into a special piece, but we like to do custom pieces because everybody has what''s on the flash. The flash is really for ideas, so they can look at the flash, see what they like, and then we normally change it up a little bit. We draw it up.  




The guys who work here, do they do their own tattooing? Or do they work on each other? 


Chuck has several different artists on him. Donnie has had several different people work on him. Most times they both have had an apprentice underneath them and they''d put their leg out there and show them how to do stuff. There''s no schooling or anything for this. You have to sit under somebody for nine months. 




That''s what I was going to ask. How does someone go about getting into this? 


You just have to find an artist that you can sit under who is willing to train you. Same with piercing. You have to sit under somebody who is licensed. 




Is that a state license? 


It''s a shop license. Mississippi is different from, well, I wouldn''t say every other state, but there''s different types. Like in Texas, they just give you a license as an individual. Here, they give you a license for the shop. It''s not for anywhere but this shop. If you go somewhere else, you have to get another license for that shop.  




Do you find getting tattoos is addictive? 


Yeah. If you like art, it''s addicting. A lot of people come in here just to find something they like, then they come on back. And we don''t mind people coming in to look.  




Tell me about the lifestyle of a tattoo artist. I know you must work odd hours. 


Yeah, we do work odd hours. Very rarely do we have family time. It''s kind of stressful sometimes. As an artist, they get very personal with some of their customers. Every tattoo has a story. They come in and want this, and they''re going to tell you the story. Whether it''s good or bad, it kind of weighs on you when you hear so many stories. They''re kind of like counselors. They get their emotions out there. We can all pretty much relate to everything.  


Jason''s in the military and there''s a lot of military guys that come in here and they like him to work on them because he''s been there, done that.  




Can you tell a lot about a person by the kind of tattoos they get? 


Yeah. Donnie actually has a tattoo on him that is a quote about art being on your body and what a tattoo means. It can be a shield or it can be worn to show who you are. Or it can cover up. 




So did they come up with all tattoo designs you see on the wall here and in all those books there? 


No. A lot of their custom work is not out on display because not just anybody is going to get that. They have to ask for a particular piece and then we''ll be like, ''I have one in my personal stash.'' Chuck has sketchbooks. Boots has sketchbooks. Fuzz has sketchbooks. And actually, Mrs. Carla, Chuck''s wife, she''s an artist and a photographer. She''s writing a book and she''s been in the business for several years too. 




Is this the first business you''ve owned? 


Yes ... I actually helped my mom own a business, a home health company, in Oklahoma and it''s different, but I know the business aspects and everything. But it''s definitely different. 




Are you enjoying it so far? 


Yeah. It''s a lot of hard work, especially since we just got our feet on the ground.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment hk commented at 12/7/2009 1:47:00 PM:

classy--just what we need.. a spot for the college kids to go after getting drunk with underage drinking--then get a tattoo--something that will be there FOREVER! Oh yes--you can tell alot about a tattoo that people have--employers for sure.. real classy---not!! Oh and the piercings--really class act too.. I love it when you get a waitress and they can not even talk because the rod in her tongue is in her nerve and she can not speak clearly..


Article Comment Been there commented at 12/7/2009 1:53:00 PM:

The place has a sign that says they won't do any work on somebody who appears to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Article Comment ADC commented at 12/7/2009 2:02:00 PM:

HK...I am "tatted up"...I am also an executive in the HR field (an employer) with a MBA...there is nothing wrong with self expression...and it does not make a difference in the employment field...especially if you have a degree and experience. Oh and I wear suits Mon-Fri...AND ride my harley to work.


Article Comment mzkat commented at 12/7/2009 4:33:00 PM:

HK shame shame!! here we go judging people!! If you get a tattoo you are fully aware it's for life!! As for rods in their mouths they do have a choice yes if you work in the public it's not cute to see that but if the employer allows it suck it up!! or take it to management!!


Article Comment lee commented at 12/8/2009 7:42:00 AM: is an idea for you......if you don't like to see a waitress with a tongue ring, just don't go the that resturant anymore, problem solved!


Article Comment CDC commented at 12/8/2009 8:21:00 AM:

HK not everyone that has tattoos has them exposed everywhere. I have one that for the most part stays covered up. 90% of Tattoo shops wont allow you to get a tattoo if you have been drinking. You would be suprised at the people that have tattoos that you wouldnt expect to. I have a uncle who is a preacher who has tattoos and noone judges him


Article Comment JH commented at 12/8/2009 9:00:00 AM:

Relax everyone Ms. HK has achieved what she was seeking and that was her 15 seconds of fame. She is slightly Narcissistic and yes I do know what the definition of that word is. HK is more than likely a person with tatts from her toes to her nose, enough piercings to pick up a small radio station and she wanted to make this statement to see what the reaction would be. Smile and know that you have achieved your goal.


Article Comment HK commented at 12/8/2009 10:26:00 AM:

Surprise JH--I do not have a tat--nor will I ever have one.. people with them are narcissistic--yes I know what that means too. All I am saying is the most people get them and then they refgret it.. Just wanting some people to think long and hard about it before decorating their body--4 ever! Oh yes--to each his own.. I choose to not do it.. Did not want any fame--just wanting everyone to think about it before they defcace their body 4 ever.. that is all.. chill out people..


Article Comment HK commented at 12/8/2009 10:34:00 AM:

Oh yes--you all know in your heart of hearts--2 ladies come in--same experience--same age--one looks like Kat Von D--the other clean cut fresh face right out of college--you know which one would probably make the cut--just saying--think before you over with do it with the ink..


Article Comment ADC commented at 12/8/2009 11:48:00 AM:

HK...I know which one would make the cut with you...but in reality it would be the one who has the best interview....20 years of HR experience as an employer has taught me this. Any slight because of appearance can and will open an employer up for all sorts of legal entanglements...just saying.


Article Comment Clay commented at 12/8/2009 12:06:00 PM:

I started getting tattoos a few years back and yes, they are very addictive. Fortunately I am 53 years old and within earshot of retirement so anyone who doesn't like them can kiss my fat Aunt Harriet. Besides, the ones on my arms are much more pleasant to look at than liver spots!


Article Comment HK commented at 12/8/2009 12:08:00 PM:

Well--yes that is common sense--that is a given that it would be discrimination towards them--but walking in their all pierced and tats--seems like they are asking for it.. I agree--they should get the job if the interview is good.. but I just know how people think---who would you want to be a sales rep for your company... just common sense-the tat person can not go through life with a chip on their shoulder about employment.. they just need to give it some thought.. that is all I am saying...


Article Comment AS commented at 12/8/2009 12:14:00 PM:

HK - I have tattoos, my significant other has tattoos, and most of my friends have tattoos. Not once have we been ridiculed in our jobs for having them. Tattoos have been around for over 5,000 years and they are not going away. Piercings have been around longer. So DEAL with it.


Article Comment ADC commented at 12/8/2009 12:38:00 PM:

HK....let's just say that you have 2 people come in to interview for a job...both are dressed in hire the person who interviewed best...then on casual Friday the person you hired is wearing a short sleeve shirt and they are tatted up...what then? I have said earlier I am tatted up..and Mon-Thurs I'm in a suit but come Friday I'm in casual mode with my tats exposed....doesn't make any difference to the people within my organization...they hired the man......not the suit or the tats.


Article Comment Damien Short commented at 12/8/2009 12:45:00 PM:

I think that it is great that there is another tattoo parlor in the GTA!!! Everyone is entitled to there own opinion especially when it involves there own body and I think that it's a little overboard that someone could feel that a tattoo could possibly interfere with someones work... The thing about a individual getting drunk and going out to get a tattoo is so not true because in most parlors the artist has great judgement and wont even attempt to ink someone upon them being intoxicated!!! A tattoo doesn't underline work credentials in any way and as long as the person(s) is not underage I think that it's perfectly OK. Hard earned money is made to be spent towards anything we like and a tattoo artists has to make a living just like the rest of us civilized individuals!!!


Article Comment HK commented at 12/8/2009 1:09:00 PM:

I am finished with the tat crowd.. ya'll have them --you are stuck with them--so you will not be able to see things from another's point of view.. that is fine--but when you are 80 and you have droopy skin and a saggy tat.. then you will think twice.. I am out of here! I am just saying--the young people of the GTA need to THINK about it.. that is all I am saying..


Article Comment lee commented at 12/8/2009 2:55:00 PM:

hk.....are you mad because we don't not agree with your opinion? Alot of us have thought about what our tattoos will look like yrs from now but that didn't stop us from getting them. most people who get tattoos have their reasons. As others have said tattoo palors will NOT let anyone who is drunk or has been drinking get a tattoo, for many reasons and if a kid realizes he made a mistake by getting the tattoo then I guess its a mistake he/she will have to live with. Its not your body so why care?


Article Comment hk commented at 12/8/2009 4:15:00 PM:

I am not mad.. enjoy your tats.. I hope if you have names on you.. I hope that you love those people forever. I hope if you get something on you that is a phase. I guess you will have to be 80 with a butterfly on your tush.. enjoy.. really.. I mean it. I am not mad..


Article Comment Paladin commented at 12/9/2009 8:53:00 AM:

I'm not against tattoos, but use good judgment. Think back for a bit. The tattoos you used to think were cool, now seem lame.
Lets be honest, most college students have not had a fulltime job yet. They can't speak of what an employer is actually looking for or will prohibit.
An employer will consider your overall appearance as a factor. It is not discrimination. You chose it.
One thing many college students do believe: An employer is waiting for them with open arms and a six-figure salary. Not so - especially with the current economic situation. Do anything you can to set yourself apart - No, wait: ABOVE the other candidates. Yes, a bold tattoo will set you apart, but not in the way you would want.
The company may impose a dress code, which may require all tattoos to be covered - yes, also on your "casual Friday".
I've had employees with tattoos & they were great, hard workers. However, they did handicap themselves when they inked themselves in places that were visible during their interview/job.


Article Comment hk commented at 12/9/2009 9:43:00 AM:

thanks Paladin--thanks for having some common sense and helping me out on here.. :) that is all I wanted the kids to think about--the effect of the tattoos in the long run.. like in their wedding pics!


Article Comment mRs.BoOts commented at 12/17/2009 6:35:00 PM:

Well, thank you all for reading the article and handling the judgmental comments for me. Tattoo's and piercing aren't for everyone, but don't be so judgmental, it is there body. For the record, we do not and will not tattoo or pierce on anyone under the age of 18, state law, or under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. We are a clean, friendly, and professional environment. So, if you would like a tattoo or body piercing by a professional, please come see us. We also have gift cards for those of you that don't like tattoos/piercing but know someone that does. Happy Holidays to All.


Article Comment Gracie commented at 12/17/2009 8:08:00 PM:

I have been into "Dragon's Ink" and I loved the place. I met the owners and all the employees, who all were very helpful and friendly. The place was very clean and they have a very large selection of designs not to mention a lot of body jewelry. I would recommend this place for anyone who is looking to get tattooed or pierced. Also, to all of those out there who want to hate on people who have tattoos and piercings just get a life. It is a shame that you have nothing better to do then talk bad about people because they look different. Everyone has the right to express their self in any way they choose be it through a tattoo, piercing, clothing, muscle car, hair color, motorcycle or whatever. You should also be glad that "Dragon's Ink" will not tattoo or pierce anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs (No tattoo regret because you will be sober and know what you are doing). They also will not tattoo or pierce anyone under the age of 18 years old so your kids are safe. All tattoo studios should follow these same guidelines. Yes, tattoos are permanent to a point because now days you can have a tattoo removed if you want to but, you should always put a lot of thought into the tattoo you want before you get it. Make sure that you really want it. Piercings however are not permanent so they can easily be taken out if you change your mind or just get tired of having it. I will be returning to "Dragon's Ink" for all my tattoos and piercings, and I'll be taking all my friends because they are the best place in town. I give "Dragon's Ink" 5 stars!!!!!


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