Work doesn’t feel like work for two Danville tattoo artists

On a Tuesday afternoon, Dream Chaser Tattoos and Body Piercings is an intriguing locale filled with a mixture of fun and frightening. Featuring a far-larger-than-life owl that swoops across an entire wall of the building’s exterior, the shop doesn’t try to blend in into the rest of South Fourth Street. And it’s artists don’t intend for you to blend in, either.

Xavier Williams continues work on a large tattoo that will be completed across multiple sessions. (Photo by Chloe Games)

Corey Hendrix, who is in his second year working as a tattoo artist at Dream Chaser, isn’t afraid to let his creativity wander into a darker realm of inking. He tends to use heavy tones in his work, often collaborating with clients to create haunting portraits. “I want to do dark, scary things. I like doing eyeballs — anything that’s not sunflowers and rainbows … It’s more one of those northeastern styles,” Hendrix explains.

Despite his tendency to leave rainbows out of his repertoire, Hendrix’s work comes together in a cloud of positivity. Even with a tattoo gun in hand, his easy-going demeanor and lighthearted conversation immediately sets clients at ease.

The artist explains his attitude towards the workday: “I’m excited to get up and come in the next day. You get to get up and do something you love everyday.” The highlights of working with ink include getting to work with great friends, and getting to know the people that walk through the doors, he adds.

“The clients are always pretty awesome people. People bring in really good ideas, and let us do our own thing with them.”

Xavier Williams, fellow artist at Dream Chaser, matches Hendrix’s enthusiastic outlook. About his typical workday, he says, “It’s not your normal 9-to-5. When you wake up every day, you feel good about going to work.” Serving Danville for four years, Williams has become confident in a style that focuses on using light greys. “I try my hardest to stay with the light greys, and keep everything symmetrical. It’s kind of what I push for.”

Portfolio books that decorate the workspace attest to Williams’s aptitude for clean lines and an eye for working with trends in the world of ink. Williams explains that when a new design gains popularity — as, recently, mandalas have — adding it to his repertoire is fairly simple. “Once you do a couple of them, you just kind of take it and run with it; it’s nothin’.”

While Hendrix begins the design process with a colored pencil and an ink pen in hand so that he can sketch a design onto a client’s skin to prepare to ink it, Williams prefers taking a digital approach to the design process.

“It lets you all know exactly what you’re gonna get before you get it. I can take a picture of your arm and place a tattoo on it, and maneuver everything to where you would want to place it. The client knows what they’re getting and what it’s gonna look like before it’s done, so it’s a whole lot easier on them.”

“It’s not really a job. It’s a career,” Hendrix says. “A career is something that’s gonna carry you through life that you love to do.”