A little art, a little plumbing

Tattoo drawing Heath Leffel, tattoo artist at Electric Tattoo, works on a drawing to be used on a client. “You should be nervous,” he said about making the choice to get a tattoo. Pictured at left from left are Ben Siebert, Leffel, Marilyn Wathke, Kevin Wathke and Dominic Krumpe.

Melissa Treolo

Sometimes you just feel like a plumber, dammit.

Not that this is a bad occupation insists Heath Leffel, tattoo artist at Electric Tattoo.

“Sometimes you feel like a plumber because it’s art, but you’re still putting out a service,” said Leffel. “It’s still a job you have to do.”

The five tattoo and piercing artists that run Electric Tattoo have been collectively nominated as one of our top seven in arts and entertainment simply because, for those many clients that flock to the shop each day, they are the best.

“It’s the best shop in Topeka,” said Trey Marker, a former Florida resident who says he goes to the Electric Tattoo to get work done whenever he can afford it. “I would just say it’s because of the artists.”

Leffel, as well as tattooers Ben Siebert and Kevin Wathke and piercers Dominic Krumpe and Marilyn Wathke, are rather pleased to know they are considered artists. All of them, after all, feel that way about their work anyhow. Wathke has been piercing for upwards of 13 years and says it’s a passion of hers. Siebert, as well as the other tattooers, spend time painting watercolors in their free time as a way to practice their craft.

“It’s cool that tattooers are being viewed as artists,” said Siebert. “We do a lot of custom stuff for our people and we all work together to give our customers the best product.”

One only needs to walk in the door to see that the customers are pleased with their efforts. Walk in on Saturday, the busiest day of the week, and the place will fill up within a few moments. Some clients peruse the many designs covering the walls of the store or go straight to the counter to make arrangements for piercing. Others have had custom designs made for them and are simply coming in to get the next round of tattooing done on already existing work. Either way, the tattooers at Electric Tattoo believe getting work done on your body is something to be taken seriously. Nerves about getting a tattoo, insists Leffel, are a good thing.

“You should be nervous,” said Leffel. “If people don’t know what they want, go home and think about it.”

Marker knows of what Leffel speaks.

“Tattooing is not something to be taken lightly,” laughed Marker. “My first tattoo I did take lightly and I had to get it covered up.”

Though the Electric Tattoo may be considered by many to be a beacon of aesthetic artistry, the real artistry might just be in how the business is ran – by providing a service, ala’ plumbing style, with a little personal integrity thrown in.

“We try to be a shop that cares about the tradition, history and art of tattooing,” said Leffel. “One that cares about their clients a little bit.”