Tattooing Family Makes Its Mark on Patrons

Article excerpt

Byline: Chris Fusco Daily Herald Staff Writer

Never call Skeet Ownebe or his two children artists.

Although their work is artistic, they prefer the term tattooists.

"Tattooist is a clear term," explained Ownebe, who owns the Bodys By Skeet tattoo and body piercing shop in East Dundee. "A tattooist's work has longevity. It will still look good 20 years down the road.

"A lot of people who tattoo now are artists who don't know what happens to the skin," Ownebe said. "Their work looks good at first, but it fades quickly."

Ownebe, 39, has been tattooing since age 9. His mother encouraged him to tattoo after she noticed his artistic ability, he said. Other tattooists taught him the craft.

Ownebe has passed on his skills to his 21-year-old daughter, Vikki Gurley. She has worked what Ownebe calls a four-year apprenticeship and plans to take over the family tattoo shop in the next few years. Ownebe's son, Neil, 17, is beginning his apprenticeship.

The business' 1,050-square-foot building resembles a combination barber shop-doctor's office. A front lobby shows hundreds of tattoo designs. Beyond the lobby, there are several chairs and work stations with rubber gloves and sterilization equipment.

By no means is the tattoo shop dull. Rock music plays in the background. The gaunt Ownebe smokes a cigarette as he chats about the problems tattooists face.

"For years, this has been a self-governing industry, and that's going to have to change," he said. "We're going to lose people's trust if we don't do things right. …