So I was a tattoo NOOB with big ideas. After seeing Russ Abbott's artwork online, I decided to take the plunge and visit the shop early last summer.
The shop itself was very welcoming, with a ton of artwork on the walls (much of it by the artists themselves), the portfolios of all the artists on a nice display, and a flat-screen monitor highlighting their best projects.
I met Shack and Russ that day, who were both very helpful. I pitched my idea to Russ, who was very quickly able to visualize what I was trying to get across. For my first tattoo, I ended up getting a very large multi-session piece on my thigh. Russ' work is amazing, and I always look forward to going back to get more work done on it (almost there). He is extremely skilled and has a great vision for composition.
Since I've been back there several times on this project, I've been able to witness all of the artists at work there -- and they are all excellent. The first day I was there, Jason Kelly was working on a phenomenal full leg sleeve of the four-horsemen of the apocalypse. Check out his myspace page to see it (http://www.myspace.com...). Jason is also a great painter who recently participated in his own art show with a couple of his friends at Octane Coffee. Jason does a lot of great "old school" Americana tattoos with a biker edge to them.
On my last visit, I was able to see their new artist, Dave Kruseman (http://www.myspace.com...), at work. My wife and I have admired his work since we first saw him tattooing at the Atlanta Tattoo Convention (where we bought one of his prints). We both love his vibrant use of colors. While I was there, he definitely showed his range. He first worked on a smaller "mom/heart" tattoo. Then one of his multi-session clients came and got more work on a backpiece of a tree with an owl. The bark and leaves of the tree were very smooth, and the owl looked pretty cool. Dave then worked on a third client who looked like she was getting some re-working of a large back tattoo.
It seems that I usually come in on days when Shack is off, but of the work I have seen, he has a very clean and classic Americana style with great lines and nice colors.
I have a few friends who are contemplating new tattoos, and I am constantly steering them in this direction. One of my friends is about to start a Koi sleeve with Dave Kruseman, and my wife really wants to get an owl on her arm from Russ sometime next year. There is a lot of great talent in the Atlanta area, and the artists at Ink and Dagger are at the top of the heap, participating in conventions, doing guest spots, and getting their work out there in publications. The vibe between the artists is great with each of them showing their work to each other, trying to impress each other (in a very good way), and trying to push their art to the next level. Definitely check them out!