Monterrey Park is a long way from West Hollywood, especially for someone who has to drive the distance to earn a living.
But for Daniel Sartor, getting to West Hollywood from the East L.A. enclave isn’t the least bit tedious. Sartor, a tattoo artist, has been doing it for the past 10 years, not least because he charges (fairly) big bucks for his work.
Sartor works at Prix Body Adorment, a tattoo parlor that has been in business for the past 12 years on 8776 W. Sunset Blvd., on Sunset Strip, not far from Book Soup.
Known in the tattooing industry by his nickname “Dark,” Sartor works only by appointment, charging from $150 to $200 per hour—"depending on how interested I am in the project," he says. An average session with him, says Sartor, lasts about four hours.
Most of his clients, says Sartor, are from overseas, linked in one way or another with music or movies, those quintessentially Weho industries.
But what’s it like for a tattoo artist to have repeat clients—especially one who has been in the business for 23 years? After all, how many tattoos can a man—or woman—get in a lifetime?
“Until you run out of skin,” replies Sartor, sucking on a cigarette outside the Prix parlor on a recent afternoon.
Who’s his most famous client? “That’s the one thing we don’t talk about,” he says, adding: “You know this town—if people are outed, they just don’t come back.”
Tattooing is a rapidly changing field "because of what's going on in Europe," says Sartor. "European tattoo artists are very art school-like and into color realism." By contrast, "American tattooing is very traditional," explains Sartor, adding that in his view, tattooing in Europe is far more creative than in the U.S.
“You’d think an artist town like this would go for more artsy stuff,” says Sartor, referring to West Hollywood. “But people here want stuff they’ve seen and liked on someone else—what works on the skin—and that’s the traditional stuff.”
Given the growing popularity off tattoos, how does Sartor handle foot traffic?
Not well at all, given that he's booked about a month in advance. “People here are like, ‘now or never,’” he says. “But it doesn’t work that way.”