Golden Gun Tattoo opens on First Street

Posted 11/27/20

In the midst of a pandemic, what do you do when your old job dries up? Start your own business, of course.

At least that’s what 21-year-old Drydan Howrey did. It wasn’t the virus that …

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Golden Gun Tattoo opens on First Street


In the midst of a pandemic, what do you do when your old job dries up? Start your own business, of course.

At least that’s what 21-year-old Drydan Howrey did. It wasn’t the virus that ended his previous career in construction. It was a knee injury that required surgery and meant long days swinging a hammer were a thing of the past.

“My knee injury forced me out of construction,” Howrey said. “And I decided to open this because of my interest and because I wanted to work for myself without limitations.”

So it was he opened Golden Gun Tattoos at 217 E. First St.

Howrey has been a professional tattoo artist for 18 months, after apprenticing for a year.

Once, not so long ago, tattoos were reserved for bikers, gang members and other less popular portions of society. That has changed, Howrey said. “It has become mainstream. So many musicians do it. Some people choose not to [get a tattoo] but others feel like they can express themselves through their tatts.”

Now, according to some research studies, 15-38% of Americans have some type of long-term body art. What was once considered self-mutilatory behavior and a psychiatric problem has now become almost normative behavior.

People get tattoos for many reasons, according to Reef Karim, a UCLA assistant clinical professor. The reasons include attention, self-expression, artistic freedom, rebellion, a visual display of a personal narrative, reminders of spiritual/cultural traditions, sexual motivation, addiction, identification with a group or even drunken impulsiveness.

The perception has also been shifted, Howrey said, because Christian musicians are often tattooed with a cross or other religious imagery.

Karim put it like this: Some people mark themselves for life to remind them of past family members or ancient sayings or religious scriptures or names of their current family/love interest. Other people use tattoos to enhance their sexual prowess or feed their exhibitionist side, and many people use tattoos to visually promote their identity and/or group affiliation.

Howrey said he has always liked to draw and has a good imagination, allowing him to create unique pieces if that is what a client wants. More often, though, the client comes in with a photo or idea on their cellphone they want duplicated, largely doing away with the old loose leaf ring binders of designs.

“I think technology has changed that in a big way,” Howrey laughed.

Another question clients often ask is whether a tattoo hurts. “There is a lot of misconception about the pain level,” Howrey said. “It isn’t that bad.”

The costs for a tattoo are moderate, but the work can be time consuming. The Golden Gun has a process which includes a consultation, design and a walk through that addresses both the time and costs involved. Other clients though, come in and have a rapid, out-the-door image applied, such as a set of initials or a simple name.

As far as the costs, Howrey said there’s an old saying: “Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good,” he quipped.

The business employs flexible scheduling, working around a client’s schedule, which also helps provide social distancing.

And because of the COVID-19 virus, the business also exercises higher standards of sanitation, even higher than those already applied to tattoo parlors.

Nate Hansen is the second artist at the Golden Gun. Howrey said Hansen is his friend and a mentor who “has really helped me progress in my work.”

That advancement has allowed Howrey to do some work he is really proud of.

“The best was a friend of mine who had a tatt he wasn’t proud of. I covered it and now he’s happy to show it off,” Howrey said. 

And how did that name come about? Was it from a James Bond movie?

Not quite. Howrey said the first tattoo gun he purchased was gold, and from that he found the name for his new endeavor.