Tattoo artists typically don’t see seniors stroll into their shops, but on Wednesday one Longview tattoo business hosted two elderly grandmothers who decided to get inked for the first time.
“It’s strictly for Chris,” Jean Pullings said of her grandson. “I won’t do it for anybody else, and I won’t have another (tattoo) besides this one, because it’s for him.”
Pullings, 86, of Clovis, New Mexico and Lillian George, 92, of Yacolt, Wash., each got their first tattoo Wednesday to support their grandson, Christiaan Pullings, and his tattoo shop, Stand Fast Tattoo at 1258 12th Avenue in Longview.
The two grandmas received the exact same tattoo: A small black cross on their left forearm. Christiaan Pullings, 41, of Longview, only needed five minutes for each one.
“I don’t want anything big and showy,” George said when asked why she chose her design. “And I am a Christian; my faith has always been in the good Lord, and he’s kept me going all these years. It seemed the right thing to do.”
“I think that’s a wonderful answer, she just answered (for me),” Jean Pullings added, laughing.
Their grandson said he was shocked that the pair agreed to let him give them ink in the first place.
“I asked them as a joke,” Christiaan Pullings said. “I brought it up, because that’s kind of how I am. My one grandma, Lillian (George), said ‘Yeah, that would be fine.’ So then I asked my other grandma Jean (Pullings), because I thought she would for sure say no, and she said yes too.”
The women took a while to warm up to the idea of tattoos in general, Christiaan Pullings said.
“Both of my grandmas never really wanted me to get a tattoo,” said Christiaan Pullings, who has “sleeves” of tattoos covering both of his arms. “But now that tattooing is more mainstream, more like an art form and more socially accepted, they’re happy I’m doing something with my art. I’m definitely shocked that they agreed to let me give them their first ink.”
Both of his grandmas seemed to respect him as an artist.
“Chris has been talking about doing tattoos since he was in high school,” George said. “He’d come down and tell me in the summer about how he would draw these things and he was practicing at home. I told him the other day that I’m just so grateful that he finally got to do the thing that he’d always wanted to do.”
“He’s a wonderful artist, and I’m glad he’s doing something with his art,” Jean Pullings chimed in.
Christiaan Pullings said he’s been in the tattoo business for five years, after he got burned out with careers in law enforcement and construction.
“I figured I’d just go full circle and do what I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I’ve always been an artist: painting, sculpting, airbrushing, carving. I’ve never had an art class, it’s just something I was always able to do. I finally just said, let’s go do tattoos.”
Now, the artist is licensed in both Washington and Oregon after spending a year in tattoo school, he said.
Wednesday’s event was a family affair as the grandmothers were joined by Christiaan’s father and stepmother.
During the inking itself, both George and Jean Pullings sat calmly, neither one complaining. The latter jokingly threatened to give her grandson an old-fashioned spanking if he made a mistake.
“If he doesn’t do (the tattoo) right, I’ll put him right here,” Jean said, gesturing to her bent knee and laughing.
While getting inked, George quipped, “My arthritis hurts worse than this.”
Afterwards, both women said they were happy with their new tattoos, and that their grandson did a fantastic job.
“It’s what I wanted from what I had to choose from,” Jean Pullings said. “If it pleases (Christiaan), it tickles me to death.”
“And he can tattoo really well over wrinkles,” she quickly added, making the whole room erupt in laughter.