Boise tattoo artists win big at convention

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BOISE -- Some Boise artists just returned from a convention in Salt Lake City, Utah, where they competed with some of the best artists in the world. They didn't just compete; they won, and won big.

"It's a great job,” said Darcy Nutt. “I get to draw everyday for a living, and create art everyday and I have a lot of really awesome clients."

Darcy Nutt has been drawing just about as long as she can remember. She started winning awards when she was young.

"I just keep them here, and then there's some in the case up there," said Nutt.

In 1997 she got her first tattoo. It was then that she got a vision of how she could use her talent in art.

"I tried everything, but when I got tattooed I was like, that's it," said Nutt.

Four years ago this month she opened the Chalice Tattoo Studio on Latah Street in Boise.

"I love it. This shop is great," said Nutt.

This past weekend, artists from her shop went to Salt Lake City for a tattoo convention to compete with other artists from around the world. There were eight categories; her shop won four of them.

"So yeah, we did pretty good," said Nutt who won three of the four awards.

Andrew Pontius won the fourth.

"I love art,” said Pontius. “This is who I am, so to be able to do this and make a comfortable living at it is everything I could ever hope for."

Both Pontius and Nutt love and specialize in traditional Japanese and traditional American art.

"The canvas may be a little bit different, but it's still art," said Pontius.

Like any industry, awards are the pinnacle of the profession.

"We're being recognized for good work, for something we obviously put a lot of pride and time into," said Pontius.

So these awards turn into recognition, which turns into demand.

"I'm booked out about two years right now," said Nutt.

While this job is about making a living, it is more about doing what you love for a living.

"To win an award for your piece is like a perfect ending to a story, I think, as far as a tattoo goes," said Pontius.

Nutt says this is the first time she's ever won three awards at one convention. She says that's pretty rare for any artists. Her biggest problem now is figuring out where to hang the plaques.