Jason Freeman is a typical enough Nevada entrepreneur.
He used to own a shop in Oakland. He's been in Reno about eight years. He laughs when asked his age — “I'd rather not say.” He regrets buying a house which is now upside-down and going through a short sale.
He's a tattoo artist, and the walls of his downtown Triumph Tattoo shop proudly display the cool things he has done.
Now he is out to do something great.
The Guinness World Record for tattoos done by a single artist in 24 hours is 801. Starting Oct. 14 at 8 p.m., he intends to smash that record — or at the very least surpass it by one.
In case you didn't already do the mental math, 802 tattoos in 24 hours is one every 107.7 seconds.
And that's insane. He doesn't have the benefit of being ambidextrous and a few days' break from tattooing will definitely be in order after this marathon session.
The attempt is for personal reasons: "Pretty much just the accomplishment," he said two weeks before the big day. But Freeman is also kind of sore at the current record holder, at least in principle if not personally.
Kat Von D, made famous by TLC show “L.A. Ink,” set a record of 400 in 2007 and set off a flurry of record setting by others.
Current champ Hollis Cantrell inked 801 tattoos in 24 hours at his Phoenix shop in 2009. Every tattoo was an "AZ" logo — and some people even got multiple copies.
“They only offered one design, so I thought it was kind of ridiculous to get more than one of the same tattoo,” Freeman said.
He is offering the choice of more than a dozen tattoo designs, which certainly complicates his mental process for inking hundreds of tattoos.
But it does make the experience more attractive for people to participate and possibly get more than one tattoo done — additional tattoos on the same person will save him a lot of time.
Because of the diversity Freeman's going for, “[Cantrell's] going to feel bummed when he loses the record,” Freeman said. But he definitely has no guarantee of success – what he needs is bodies.
“This is the way I feel: If I have the bodies I can do it,” he said. “That’s the challenge of the whole thing.”
Though he has some help from his sponsors, Freeman's also putting up his own money to advertise the event, and believes Reno's 24-hour nature and an energetic street team will help keep people coming through the door.
Each tattoo will cost $20 to cover the cost of materials — supplies are disposable so sanitation is preserved without sacrificing speed.
"It’s typically quality versus speed," he said. "And the tattoos are drawn simple enough to get the quality."
Freeman said the most complex of the designs can still be done in one minute, 15 seconds, and though there is a good deal of variety, he chose the designs for simplicity and speed.
The Guinness rules are strict, both for the record and the record-breaking. Tattoos must be at least 3.75 square inches, two colors and done well in a pre-determined design – the artist can't just scribble and call it good.
And every tattoo must be documented by photos and continuous video, with an impartial public servant there to testify to the occasion.
As the night passes and Oct. 15 wears on, even if the record seems like a long-shot, Freeman will continue inking until the 8 p.m. Saturday deadline arrives.
"Regardless if I’m that far behind, no matter what, I'm going to continue to go," he said. "There’s always chances to catch up — people can get multiple tattoos — that will be very helpful."
He's in it for himself, after all – one's biggest critic.
“My main concern is the quality,” Freeman said. “Every tattoo – the quality has to be there.”
Head to Triumph Tattoo on Friday or Saturday to see small-time history in the making. And you can be a part of it — Just remember to bring cash.