Visual Demands of the Tattoo Artist

This weekend I was fortunate to be the guest of my friend Michael Politz, Las Vegas publisher, restrauteur and club owner, well known for being the founder and brains behind the Las Vegas publication “Food and Beverage” magazine.  I accompanied Mike and his friends multi-diamond producer Damon Elliott, who has sold over 175 million records, earned seven Grammy Award Nominations and won one Grammy Award, and has produced hits for artist Pink, Destiny’s Child and Mya just to name a few, Lukas Rossi, winner of

Lukas Rossi Gets a Tat @ Hart and Huntington

the CBS Television reality series ” Rock Star:  Supernova “, and current frontman for the band Stars Down, Kendra Jade Rossi, model, actress and star of the VH1 Reality Television series Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew and Sober House and Kristina Allison, lead singer of the band Paper Dolls as they visited their favorite tattoo artist, Hart and Huntington, located in the Hard Rock Hotel.

As an eye doctor, I noted and was impressed by the intense visual demands of the tattoo artist immediately.   The artist is forced to work at extremely close distances for long periods of time, an incredibly stressful and demanding visual task.  If it doesn’t sound so tough, try reading this post at less than 10 inches from your face and then try to imagine doing it constantly without a break for stretches longer than 10 minutes at a time.

Visual arts are demanding on the vision system in many ways other than the need for intense focus and concentration.  I posted an article about intense near point work and it’s effect on the visual system at the blog a few months ago (access that link by clicking here).

The latest research on myopia (nearsightedness) is showing that depriving someone of peripheral vision might be a cause of increase in myopic (nearsighted) prescriptions. When we look out at a distance, we use our central and peripheral vision. When we look close to read or do computer work, we use less of our peripheral vision. Lack of stimulation of the periphery over long periods of time might lead to prescription “creep” if one is genetically geared towards myopia.

Another important factor is lighting, which if incorrect can cause the artist to use pigments that look different in natural light than they do on the subjects arm in the tattoo parlor.  Poor lighting can also cause difficulty with contrast, a crucial skill for the tattoo artist if they hope to create a realistic and accurate image for their client.

Another area in eye care where Tattoos come up include permanent eyeliner; look for a post about PE in a future blog.

Fortunately for Lukas Rossi and Damon Elliott they were at true professionals Hart & Huntington; their tats turned out fantastic.  As for the rest of us, well, let’s just say we either couldn’t decide what to get, where to get it or, in my case totally chickened out of this session – maybe next time!

L to R: Michael Politz, Alan Glazier, Damon Elliott

For more information on eye and vision care issues visit

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One Response

  1. Dr. Alan N. Glazier,

    I just read your article about the visual demands on tattoo artists. I am the owner of Body Manipulations in San Francisco where we tattoo. I have tattoo artists that work for me and they have complained about having to hunch down over their subjects. Many artists have gone to using those
    jeweler’s head bands with magnifying lenses. I have found an even better solution, lightweight, great depth of field, and overall easy to wear for lengths of time. They are telescope glasses from a company called CraftOptics that can be fit with the users prescription lenses or plain.
    These glasses have been a real solution to a very large problem that sneaks up on these artists throughout the trade. To date these are the best, most comfortable magnifying glasses! Check them out, it may be good to refer some of those straining artists you have met.

    If you do know anybody who will want the pair, I got a special coupon code from the manufacturer for my artists. Enter ‘bodym’ in the coupon field at checkout for 11% off.

    Hope I can help more and more artists from the strain. thanks for the great article!

    -Paul Stoll
    Body Manipulations

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