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NORMAL — When Tim Beck applies a tattoo, he wants it to be one of a kind.

"After we do a design, it gets thrown away," said Beck, 26, who works at Artkore Tattoos in downtown Normal.

How long have you been doing this and do you need a license?

I've been doing it for eight years. There's no licensing in Illinois, but we wish there was because that way some of the guys who do this out of their houses without even having running water could be shut down.

Why is running water important and how does tattooing work?

You have to have running water to wash your hands. In tattooing, a group of needles penetrates the skin and pigment is inserted. We use an autoclave to sterilize.

How long does a tattoo usually take and what is the average cost? How old do you have to be to get a tattoo?

On average, about one or two hours and between $125 and $150.

Starting Jan. 1 the legal age is 18 in Illinois. It was 21.

What are the more popular designs and does the shop also do body piercing?

Tribal art in black design is popular. "Mom" used to be popular and is kind of coming back.

One person here does all our body piercing.

We're a custom shop and that means we don't get a design off the wall. We want it to be one of a kind. After we do it, the design gets thrown away.

Can tattoos be removed? Why do people do that? Do you have tattoos?

Yes, they can be removed with a laser at a dermatology center. It usually takes two or three sessions and sometimes it happens because someone put a name on and they've broken up.

I don't have tattoos with names. I have about 30, mainly on my arms, neck and hands, with a couple on my legs.

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