It all started somewhere between adolescence and adulthood. In the wondering mind of a self proclaimed artist that was trying to break out and discover where he fit in this chaotic world, Cameron Heffington found it and immediately fell in love.
"Ever since I got my first tattoo, I loved it. I have been drawing since I was a kid and this kinda bridged the gap between drawing and my love for art," Heffington said.
However, he was met with criticism when he showed his new tattoo to a friend's dad. The man explained that when he was younger he actually bought a tattoo machine and had a friend give him a tattoo with it. He regretted it, placed the machine in the closet, and never used it again.
"I asked if it was still in the closet," said Heffington. "He said, yes. Then [I asked] if I could have it and he said, yes. The rest has been my career."
Moving around from Houston to Phoenix, to Detroit and to San Bernardino, California, Heffington mastered the art of tattooing. He moved back to Oklahoma in 1998 and opened Sub-Q-Tattoo in January of 2007.
He understands the image that tattooing artists have inherited but has witnessed the change in clientele and the acceptance of having tattoos.
"The image of people with tattoos is burned in from 30-40 years ago. Back then, most of the people who got tattoos were sailors, bikers and prisoners," Heffington said. "Today I have suit and tie customers who are very successful. Professionals that the average person has no idea how many tattoos they have, and they function in the white collar industry everyday."
Though Heffington believes tattooing is here to stay, he is fully aware that it's not for everybody. He says there is not a day goes by that he doesn't try to talk a customer out of getting a tattoo. He has been around the industry long enough to realize when someone walks into his shop and wants something that they are not going to be happy with.
"I have heard thousands of times that a customer got a tattoo when they were young and stupid, and is there anything that I can do about it," said Heffington. "People should think this artwork through because it's going to last a lifetime." He believes when the art is done right, it is something that a customer can be proud of. "Today there are true tattoo artists who perform their work on skin. They do some great, great work. I know, I have five tattoo artists in my shop."
One piece of advice from Heffington is to be cautious when getting a name put on your skin. "I have never been proven wrong that getting names of wives, girlfriends or whoever is a bad idea. It may take years…but sooner or later, you will be sorry."
Heffington explains that extreme care is taken regarding safety and regulations required by state health officials. His shop has always been in complete compliance, properly disposing of materials to prevent cross contamination as well as informing all customers on how to care for new tattoos.
Life is about to take an interesting turn for Heffington. He and his wife are expecting their first child in February. He realizes that parenting will bring many changes, but he and his wife won't be alone.
"I am lucky that I have a really good family behind me. They have offered their services and I am going to be smart and take them up on it," he said.
To see some examples of Heffington's work go to www.subqtattoos.com or stop by Sub-Q-Tattoos located at the corner
of Memorial and Western.