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Great Whale Tattoo & Piercing Company Makes Getting Inked As Comfortable As Possible

By Pamela Sosnowski

Even though the tattoo trend has grown enormously in recent years, many would-be tattoo wearers are apprehensive about the procedure itself or the prospect of bearing permanent art. But the staff at Great Whale Tattoo & Piercing Company of Madison wants anyone thinking of getting inked to know that they're prepared to answer any questions about tattoos, and offer advice so that everyone leaves with a tattoo they're proud of.

"We consider the entire life of your tattoo, where you put it, and how that part of your body affects the image," owner Tim Bradley said. "We sincerely care, and take our job of adorning people very seriously. We will also always give you our truthful opinion on what will give you a well designed, long lasting, and timeless tattoo that you will be proud to wear."

Bradley, his wife, and a friend opened Great Whale Tattoo after relocating to Madison as a way to nurture their creative sides while providing a service to their newly adopted community. The name was inspired by the Bradleys' shared love and admiration of whales, particularly the larger species, and as an icebreaker when meeting new customers.

"All of them are ecologically challenged to the point where our help as humans is needed on a constant basis," he said. "So, the name also gives way to this exact conversation with most of our clients, which gives us an avenue to spread information, have great conversation, and also meet other people who are as obsessed with whales and the ocean as we are in Wisconsin!"

Bradley focuses on Japanese and ornamental tattooing while his fellow artist, Jon Jenkins, specializes in illustrative traditional. Although the shop will accommodate walk-ins whenever possible, they usually find themselves booking clients four to six weeks ahead. Another staff member, Will Strickland, performs body piercings and knows how to make everyone feel at ease.

Keeping the staff and space on the smaller side has been the key to satisfied customers, according to Bradley.

"I like to think the atmosphere at the shop makes our clients feel relaxed, and comfortable to be themselves and have a positive experience through a painful process," he said. "It's a very cozy place, and we knew it would limit us from growing our staff, which is what we wanted: a small, tight knit crew."

The shop offers a few tips to first-time tattoo receivers to help make the experience as comfortable as possible. Wearing comfortable clothing and eating an hour and a half before an appointment is recommended. When people get tense during a tattoo session, the muscle energy used can cause blood sugar to drop and lead to feeling faint. Eating a healthy meal or snack before receiving a tattoo helps keep blood sugar steady during the procedure. Bradley also wants clients to know that they may bring anything to help distract them from the needle such as headphones or a book.

Bradley loves what he does for a living, and it shows through his exceptional customer service and passion for the ancient art of tattooing.

"Through the Japanese and ornamental way of viewing things, I get to tell or create a bit of a story through the traditions and legends of so many amazing artists before me and combine them with what my client hopes to project outward to the world," he said. "It's an honor to help people achieve their true version of themselves."

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