Jarid Schlichter prepares to tattoo a client at Marc’s Tattooing and Body Piercing in Wilkes-Barre.
Schlichter works on a customer at Marc’s.PHOTOS BY NIKKI M. MASCALI
Jarid Schlichter is someone that prefers to keep to himself. If he had his way, he’d just as soon be holed up in the woods, living in quiet isolation. But when he sketches an idea on paper, then mixes the proper pigments and brings that idea to life on a client’s body in the form of a tattoo, he speaks loudly and clearly.
When Schlichter herniated a disc in his back, he had to abandon his job, which involved heavy lifting. Disgruntled, he decided to apply his artistic talents to tattooing.
The move made sense: He liked to draw things, and he already had gotten several tattoos — “I lose track, 12 and a half-ish?” Schlichter says of his current status — starting when he was 18 years old. Having moved from the Pottstown area near Philadelphia to Northeastern Pennsylvania to be closer to family, Schlichter apprenticed at Marc’s Tattooing and Body Piercing for a year and a half. And for nearly seven years, he’s been an in-demand tattoo artist for Marc’s, working out of the company’s Wilkes-Barre location on Route 309 since 2002.
Last week, Schlichter, 32, took some time between appointments to visit with the Weekender and discuss his unique and fulfilling occupation while Pantera’s “Vulgar Display of Power” pummeled the stereo in the alcove that serves as his workshop.
Weekender: Do you remember the first tattoo you did? What was it?
Jarid Schlichter: It was a small sun. It should have taken 30 to 45 minutes, but it took me two hours I was so nervous (laughs).
Weekender: How would you describe your style as a tattoo artist?
JS: I try to be broad and cover (the entire) spectrum. I like to do black-and-gray, colors, portraits. I don’t like to do memorials, R.I.P. stuff.
Weekender: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
JS: Everything is a challenge. In this job, there’s so many variables and challenges.
Weekender: What trends and changes have you seen in the business?
JS: Since I’ve been tattooing, the technology hasn’t really changed. This is the same type of tattoo machine they’ve been using for 50 years. I luckily came in before all of the reality-show stuff, which opened it up. It’s helped.
Weekender: Have the reality shows made tattoos and tattooing more mainstream in the eyes of the public? Do you think there’s less of a stigma associated with getting tattoos than there used to be?
JS: It’s a double-edged-sword kind of thing. You get people that have a perception that they can get a tattoo done in 10 minutes, or they see all the crazy drama on TV. It’s a job.
Weekender: Do you and other area tattoo artists, either from Marc’s or other shops, trade info about what’s going on in the industry?
JS: Me personally, I’m pretty reclusive. It’s very rare that I socialize. I have kids and don’t go out much.
Weekender: Tell us about your apprenticeship.
JS: At first, you learn the ropes. You learn about cross-contamination, what you can touch and can’t touch. You learn how to talk to people. It’s five months before you even hold the machine. You watch the artists more.
Weekender: What type of certification did you need to get?
JS: In Pennsylvania, there’s little certification for anything, unfortunately. There’s really no laws against just opening a shop. It varies from state to state.
Weekender: How do you treat a client that might be having cold feet about getting a tattoo?
JS: I just try to talk to them like we’re buddies. I try to feel out what the problem is, if there is a problem.
Weekender: How long do you see yourself doing this?
JS: Ideally, I’d like to do it until I hopefully retire. I don’t know how long physically I can do it.
Weekender: Describe that physical demand and what you do to alleviate it.
JS: There’s hand fatigue. Before I start, I do hand stretches and wrist rolls
Weekender: What do you do when someone is obviously drunk and they come in wanting to get a tattoo?
JS: When you can’t listen to directions properly, you can’t get a tattoo. In six and a half years of doing this, there were only two people that were absolutely intoxicated that I had to turn away. Also, alcohol thins your blood and you bleed more. It’s bad for healing, too.