Local tattoo artist’s son learns the family business

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 21, 2002

Eleven-year-old Chuck Ellison is making his mark. Literally. The first was on his father.

Chuck, the son of Spider Ellison, a well-known Alabaster tattoo artist and owner of C&D Custom Tattoos, recently received his license from the Red Cross to tattoo. All he needs now is a Body Art Operator permit.

&uot;I had to watch a video and learn to protect myself from diseases,&uot; Chuck said about his Red Cross certification. &uot;Of course, I don’t have to worry about a lot of that because we (at C&D) use new needles every time.&uot;

&uot;In reality, we can’t let him tattoo,&uot; said Spider, who talked about how strictly C&D followed Health Department rules. &uot;He can only do family.&uot;

And family he did. The first tattoo Chuck did was on his father’s leg.

&uot;I did a Chinese symbol,&uot; said Chuck. &uot;It was his Father’s Day present.&uot;

Chuck is not just at home between the walls of a tattoo parlor. He is a sixth grader at Jemison Middle School and enjoys art, a subject he gets to take because he is enrolled in enrichment classes. He enjoys working with chalks and watercolors and proudly shows some of his work.

Chuck is on the A-Honor Roll at JMS and is in his seventh year of playing baseball. He is also on the weightlifting team. He would be on the football team, too, except for one thing.

&uot;I would have to cut my hair,&uot; said Chuck. &uot;If they don’t make me cut it, I’ll play.&uot;

Dawn Ellison, Chuck’s mother, talked about how her son defied some people’s expectations.

&uot;He’s just a normal kid,&uot; she said. &uot;He loves to go to the gym with his dad.&uot;

Chuck credits his interest in tattoos to the fact that he grew up around it.

&uot;I’ve always loved to draw,&uot; he said. &uot;Just watching my dad do it for so long.&uot;

&uot;He’s been in a tattoo parlor since he was eight months old,&uot; said Dawn. &uot;When he was two, we put batteries on a pencil because it was the weight of a machine (for tattooing), and he pretended.&uot;

Spider and Dawn said that they are aware of what some people may think about their son.

&uot;A lot of people take it different ways,&uot; said Spider. &uot;People think he would be a wild child, but being in a tattoo shop didn’t affect him.&uot;

Dawn said she really did not worry about what people think.

&uot;But that’s why I don’t let my children have tattoos on their forearms,&uot; said Dawn. She said that even though tattoos have become acceptable, there are some that will still judge.

&uot;When they go for a job, no one will hire them with a tattoo on their arms,&uot; said Spider. &uot;Not the kind of job they want, anyway.&uot;

What kind of job does Chuck want?

&uot;Tattoos are probably going to be a side job,&uot; said Chuck. &uot;I’m going to save the money and go to Harvard Law School with it. I’ve always been able to take up for my friends, so I like law.&uot;

Chuck wants to continue his father’s business, though.

&uot;It’s the oldest established tattoo shop in central Alabama, and I want to keep it that way,&uot; said Chuck.

Strangely enough, although Chuck can give someone a tattoo, he cannot get one himself.

&uot;We have a strict rule in our family,&uot; said Dawn. &uot;Our children can’t have a tattoo until they’re 14, and that’s just on their leg.&uot;

Chuck pointed to a picture of a snake, grinned and said, &uot;I’ve already found the one that I want to be my first.&uot;