Ep. 62: It's a Sad Time but Sayler Makes It Better

I've found that in the face of overwhelming global chaos, it's the small, steadfast beacons in our lives that offer us much-needed stability. 

As the world is crumbling around us, as people are being brutally murdered in several genocides in several countries, I find myself pretty f'n down. Sometimes I stop and breathe in the middle of a freak out, and other times I distract myself with my favorite humans.

One of whom is my apprentice Sayler McBean. My regular clients and friends who have known me for years know that I've worked on my own in a private studio for the last decade. I was in no hurry to bring someone else into my space and start to call it "ours." But Sayler came along and it was an easy yes. As we got ready, and closer to the time of her moving here I wondered how it would feel to share space. 

I interviewed her on the podcast back in early October, and it has now been five months since we started this process, and six weeks since she started tattooing. 

Folks keep asking me how it's going and I am happy to report, it's been fantastic. 
But please ... have a listen.

Find Sayler at:


episode transcript

Micah Riot: 

Hello darlings, hello, Micah Riot here with episode 62 of Ink Medicine Podcast. I would like to talk today about what it's been like to have my first apprentice. As you all know, Sayler came in September of last year, so it's been approximately five months since she's been in the shop and people keep asking me how it's going, and so I will give you an update. But first speak to name, acknowledge the what feels like collective depression. I think that we're not meant for this level of violence in the world to be happening and to be televised. This is not what human beings are meant to be doing to each other or getting from each other. We're not meant to murder each other in masses. It's been devastating and I cry all the time about it, and I know other people do too. It's been really hard to just keep life going right, to just get up in the morning and have breakfast and go to the gym and go to work. I mean, I've been doing those things, but many times through the day I stop what I'm doing and I think what it's like to be a person in Gaza right now, what it's like to be a person in Congo right now, and also in Sudan and Haiti to Gray, but we're being televised or at least I am on the news sources that I look at the genocide in Gaza and it's being shown very closely, their bodies on our screens. There's blood, there's people begging for their lives. It's not a movie. I've honestly just had a hard time just going on, and I'm sure you have too, and I think it's just worth acknowledging, even if there's really nothing we can do about it. Like we can do all of the resting and all of the the gemming and all of the sleeping and reading, and you know you have to do those things too. You have to distract yourself from reality of the world and when things feel extra unbearable, what I do is I stop in the moment and I do a little check in with myself about what are things happening that I can appreciate. I do a little body check and I think, okay, I'm not in pain, I don't have a headache and you know, a couple of times a month I get these two three-day long headaches that really last for that long and medicine Advil helps a little bit, but not entirely, and it's horrible. So I stop and I go. I don't have a headache and I'm not having cramps and my feet don't hurt and I'm here, supported by this chair, just sitting in this chair, my weight supported, and my dog is next to me and I can pet her and feel her fur in my fingers because someday she'll be gone. But she's not gone yet and she's here with me. I look at her sweet face and I kiss her little cheek. And the air is clean. There's no fires happening nearby and we're not in the war zone, so the air is clean and breathable and the water is clean and I have food Right the really basic shit, the basic stuff of life. I just make a little inventory. I just place myself right here in the center of my existence and just tell myself I'm okay. And then I get up and keep cleaning the house or keep working or try to go to sleep, whatever it is I had to stop myself from doing because I was having a freak out. So I hope you are doing what you can to take care of your nervous system. It's been really hard, so I hope you are doing what you can. And now I will give you a short update on how my first apprenticeship, my first apprentice, my first I'm sharing my space with a person it's going. After this short break. There are a few things that are able to get me out of my funk Right now, and that is having time with Sayler in the shop. And you know my clients. I love my people and I love my sessions and tattooing my people. Having that couple hours to just drop in with somebody has been an incredible balm for me and my soul. But outside of that, the shop is really a place of pleasure and joy, and Sayler is a huge part of it. So, in short, it's been really easy. It's been way easier than I thought it would be. I am somebody who is a creature of habit and think most people are, and I hadn't shared tattoo space with anyone since it must have been 2014. So, yeah, it's been about 10 years. I spent the first four years of my tattooing career at Block Blue, so 2008 until 2012. And then I went and worked for Mermaid Sattu for two years and then I went out on my own. So I've been on my own since about 2014, and first at OneSpace, a really tiny space in the city, and then in the last five years here in the East Bay in San Leandro, and I knew my shop could accommodate another person, but it didn't seem like something I wanted to do until I met the right person, and that is most definitely Sayler. Whether it is because she is so easy going and so easy to communicate with and so just lovely to have around, because her energy is just so beautiful and bright and sparkling, or because it's our energy together, the we're good match. I think both of those things are very true. But it really we haven't had any hiccups and they could happen. I allow that maybe some little ones have happened, but there really hasn't been anything major. Sharing space has been really easy. We turned the other side of the shop like the side of the shop that had my kind of office area which I really wasn't using, it was just kind of dead space into her side of the shop. So we have her full set up there and it's so cool to come in the shop and see that she has her own spot and just got her heart there and decorative things and her special trinkets that she's collected in her years of life and collecting beautiful things. And then I have my side and they feel they're different, we have different styles but they're very complimentary energetically at least. My stuff has more color, her stuff is mostly black. It's a bit more goth, but I love that aesthetic. Anyway, the shop looks amazing. People come in they say your shop looks amazing. It feels amazing. The energy here is great. The very beginning, like the first couple weeks of Sayler being there, there were a couple of times that I was like, well, this client and I, we really talk very frankly about stuff. We get really deep, they tell me personal things. Why don't you not come in so they can have their privacy with me? It was like a couple of times in the beginning and then after a little while it was like okay, everybody loves Sayler, no one's ever asked me to have privacy. It's great, she can come and go, she pleases. So that piece has been great. I've not had to really adjust myself in any way, except for sharing space and answering more questions and giving a bit more energy, which I'm happy to do, cause I also receive so much beautiful energy from Sayler and I've been really happy to see her tattoos from the very first one. Like I've never seen her do anything that to me looked bad, like at all. Everything she does is beautiful. It's early-ish work, like there's definitely she's gonna get better and better and better, but it's beautiful. It's on par with any excellent beginner tattoo work out there. It's been really cool to see. I'm happy and proud to have her do work like that under the name of Ink Medicine, and my main worry, I think, is just whether or not she'll get enough clientele. I think it's a harder, in some ways a harder world to come into. There's such there's just so many tattoo artists in the Bay Area in the world, for sure, but in the Bay Area there's just there's a shop in every corner and there's people charting out, apprentices and people starting tattooing their own and there's so many people tattooing and there's also more people getting tattooed too. So I think that's kind of my main thing is, once in a while, I'm like is she gonna have enough clientele to support herself? I sure hope so, and it's also a piece of it that I can help her with and encourage her and suggest ways of marketing herself, but in the end, it's gonna be up to her how she does that. It turned out that it didn't take that long between her whining about not having enough tattoos booked for the coming week to her being overwhelmed with inquiries after she posted a couple different things in a couple different places online. People came in droves, so not a problem, and I'm thinking it will continue not to be a problem. She'll continue to do bigger, more complex work and yeah, actually, yeah, I'm not really concerned. We have a great rapport. We find it easy to be around each other. She wants to continue to do things for me, like set up my station, break it down. I don't expect her to, but she wants to and I'm happy to have her do it. It's definitely a relief for me and I am present for her for whatever she needs from me, which is really not much, but I am happily there for whatever she needs. It feels like a familial relationship. It feels like an intergenerational relationship a little bit, because we are different generations. She's 17 years younger than me and I just think she's the most special human and I want her to be happy and safe and fed and loved and all of that by the world and by the people in it. So I will do whatever I can to make that wish come true. So that's kind of the update. There's really not that much to say because it's going really well. She is still doing tattoos, for I believe it's $65 now for a tattoo. She has flash it's. She's got really cute teeth drawn up, so there's a bunch of teeth and there's leaves and there's eyeballs and there's mushrooms. Mushrooms have been very popular. People are really into the mushrooms. So if you're interested in an apprentice tattoo, that's really fucking good. It's not the average apprentice tattoo. It is not what my work looked like when I was an apprentice. It's much better if you want an apprentice tattoo for $65. Now is the time. She is Doomfay on Instagram. That's D-O-O-M-F-A-E. You can reach her there or if you can't find her, ping me and I will point you to her Instagram. While I can't stop beaming about Sayler because she really is a big part of the joy of my life, I have not a lot of words to describe the experience. I'm so glad it's going well, glad it's bringing ease and joy into both of our lives, and I'm really happy that my clients, you guys, really like Sayler's presence in the shop. It makes me really happy. Until next week, I'll be back with an interview with another Caitlin, a lovely, lovely tattoo artist, trauma-informed, social justice-oriented person up in Washington state. We had an amazing conversation and it's going to be a good one. I hope you have a good week and I'll talk to you soon.