blINK: Behind the ink

For tattoo artist Levi Tarr, the world and career of tattooing were things he had grown up with. As the son of Buffalo Bill Tarr, Tarr was influenced by his father’s career path.

“With my father and stepmother in the business, it did draw my attention toward the industry,” Tarr said, speaking of the owners of Totem Tattoo, 2 E. Third St., which was established in 1989.

Tarr even had the unique experience of apprenticing under his father.

“During my apprenticeship, I got to do all the ‘fun’ stuff. I would be required to set up the station for a tattoo, break down the station afterwards. I’d make stencils, make appointments, do drawings, clean up the shop, make needles and sit in on tattoos and observe,” Tarr said.

Growing up interested in comic books, Tarr said he would take summer art classes when he wasn’t in school. “I was really into comic book art. I was also drawing in sketch books and working with acrylics,” he said.

The defining moment for Tarr that made him decide he wanted to pursue a career in tattooing was when he recieved his first tattoo.

“That definitely made me say, ‘I wanna do this.’ Graphic design school wasn’t for me and I could get the opportunity to work with and follow my father,” he said.

As far as the images he tattoos on his clients, Tarr strives to make the customer happy.

Tarr makes sure he is well-rounded in the styles and subjects that he tattoos. No matter what the customer brings in, it’s about their satisfaction

“I love tattooing – as long as I’m doing this, I’m happy. I want to make the best tattoo, no matter what the subject or image is,” Tarr said. “There is such a diversity in what people are looking for and how they would like it done, so I stay pretty well rounded with that. If I had to pick a favorite, doing traditional style tattoos are always fun,” Tarr said. “Subject matter is ever changing. That seems to keep the individuality going with tattoos, most of my clients are getting subject matters that are important to them.”

Just a quick glance at the images of work that Tarr has done will show a wide range – from colorful, popping images of flowers to black and grey skulls that seem to jump off the client’s skin. With a trend in realism with tattoos, whether it’s animals, flowers or traditional-style tattoos, Tarr also has honed that skill to once again give customers what they want. He said working every day, as well as painting and drawing at home, help him to sharpen his skills.

With the rising popularity in tattoos and people wanting to be tattoo artists, Tarr suggested that aspiring artists stay positive.

“It’s a long road with lots of people trying to get there. Do your research so you can learn how to perform proper sterile techniques while tattooing.”

For more information on Tarr and for more examples of his work, visit

Wiegand is a lifestyle-entertainment reporter. “blINK” features a different local tattoo artist on the last Thursday of each month. For more information, contact the Showcase department at 570-326-1551 or showcase