Artist Chris Palmer

6:56 PM Anis Widayanti 0 Comments

We are honored to introduce you to one of Reno's toughest tattoo artists around. 
Chris Palmer is a man who has been faced with both tragedy and triumph in his life and he's handled both with tremendous courage.
In fact we would go so far as to say that he has handled triumph with humility and tragedy with grace. 
The traces of tragedy to triumph are trickled all throughout this mans life but especially this past year.

Chris and Kristine Palmer are a beautiful couple who are excited to welcome one of life's most precious moments. The birth of their newborn child is expected this March and while this is without a doubt a triumphant moment in life, tragedy was right around the corner  when this past summer, Chris was diagnosed with glioblastoma brain cancer. 

For  most people this blow would stop them in their tracks but for Chris Palmer who has been tattooing skin for 14 years out of Sinful Skin, he's taking this news with a strength and courage that is truly inspiring and he's not about to stop tattooing.  In fact, talking with him recently, he has been more inspired than ever before.

He really is a man on a mission to tattoo until death does he part. 


(Photo of a tattoo on Chris's  arm that says, "Until Death" with an ink bottle)

 Chris Palmer's story starts stateside. Born in Provo, Utah to a large family, Chris moved around a lot. By 1st grade, his family settled in Reno, and he has been here ever since. In high-school, Chris survived a trampoline accident that left him paralyzed and when faced with this first tragedy in life he didn't let it keep him down.  He did however realize that his physical activity would be limited, so he started his love affair with the world of art.

When Chris graduated from High school though he decided to get started on a degree in Chemistry at UNR. He already had 4 years under his academic belt when he got his first taste of tattooing.  A friend bought a tattoo kit and Chris offered up his skin for a piece of practice canvas. He was 21-years-old and when it didn’t turn out to be the greatest tattoo, Chris thought “I can do better than this!” After fooling around with the tattoo machine for awhile, he decided to leave UNR to pursue tattooing full-time.  

"I always wanted to be an artist, but tattooing was just cooler" Chris said. 




Chris bought the tattoo kit from his friend and tried it out on his own leg. When friends and family saw the quality of work Chris did from scratch, they asked him to work on them. At 22-years-old, Chris was hired to apprentice at Sinful Skin in Reno and after a month and a half, he was hired on as a full-time tattoo artist.  
Little did he know that after five years at Sinful Skin, he’d have an opportunity to become the owner. The shop was located off E Plumb lane and Chris worked hard to make it a great place to work.

 “I’m not a confrontational person, and my shop was always real stable,” Palmer said. “I only picked other artists that I had things in common with. We did have some terrible things happen with some of the artists, but for the most part there was no drama.” 

While his family was initially against the decision to leave school and pursue this profession, Chris says they came around. 

“All the artwork that I produced was something they were real proud about,” Palmer said. “It used to be, my dad would say ‘my son owns a business’ but now my parents say ‘my son owns a tattoo shop.'

"I think the bright colors and the art aspect of it changed their mind on what this industry is about.” 



Recently,  it is with a heavy heart the doors of Sinful Skin were closed so that Chris and his family can focus on getting better and welcoming this new addition to their family. It is the end of an era for the doors to close after 14 years of Chris's life being lived there.  Chris has always done very well in this profession and attributes it to loyal customers of Reno who spread the word.

 Like we said, he may have closed his shop, but he hasn't stopped tattooing. While Chris owned Sinful Skin, one of the artists who apprenticed there, Dustin George Brown, did really well for himself and started his own shop called Valor Tattoo behind Rapscallions. After being with Chris for six years, Chris was happy to see him do well for himself. Recently, Dustin invited Chris to come over and work his creative magic in a private room in the back. While Chris continues to tattoo out of Valor, he is also working hard to kick Cancer's ass!

When asked which tattoos have been the most challenging pieces to do, it was more about where the tattoo is desired versus what will go on the body.

"For me it’s really placement," Chris said, "The neck, the front torso, the belly are tough. As far as design goes, most of the time it's simple, but sometimes people bring you something that is too tight or tough to fit into what they want."

At his core, Chris is a cool cat. He's not going to cause trouble and wants no part of it. For this reason, he refuses to do any pieces that are gang related. His favorite pieces are realism, the neo-traditional, Sailor Jerry pieces, anything realistic and traditional with thick lines. 

One of Chris's  new favorite tattoo's is one his wife recently gave him.
Although Kristine is a graphic design artist, this was her first tattoo - the words "I love you" on his arm.
This is where we want a share their love story and because it all started out of a tattoo shop we feel like it fits!


When Chris first met Kristine, while working on her tattoo, he saw that she could hold her own when it came to conversations about art. For Kristine , who started out painting and drawing, she decided she wanted to get paid for it, and so she moved into graphic design as a profession. 

"We could talk about art and critique stuff together," Palmer said. "It was cool. I guess it was really fun to talk about things with her. She wasn't just like yah, that's great, she had things to say about the art too. So I did that whole stalker creep thing, I got her consent form and her number." Chris laughs as he retells the story.
"It's just interesting how it shifted, there's something about some people and there was just something about Kristine."  
After being together for about a year,  Chris and Kristine got married in the Virginia City graveyard on Halloween. They rented a house for family and friends to enjoy,  and they all came dressed up and went trick-or-treating in the city that night after their wedding. With their 10 year old daughter, Celeste, they are expecting a baby this March and have  decided to wait on finding out the sex of the baby, one of life's last known surprises. 


Chris' favorite thing about being a tattoo artist is realizing that his work will live on past him.
He recommends to those who are looking to get their first tattoo that they should be comfortable with the artist. 
"Don't be impulsive" Chris said. "Find the right artist for you. What's a couple more days or a couple more hours." 

"So many young people that I'm tattooing right now, they will have these things that I created and made, traveling canvases." Chris said.  "You kind of forget the faces but you don't forget the tattoos." 

It has been really amazing how the tattoo community and really Reno at large has come to support Chris and Kristine during this time.

When owners of TNT Landscaping found out Chris didn't have insurance he hosted "Cards for Chris" at the Elks Lodge. People gave donations of all kinds for participants to win - everything from sub-machine guns and gift certificate. The 80 players who came together raised a lot of money with most of the items auctioning for about seven times what they were worth.
Another event is under way to help raise more money for Chris and his family by many of the local tattoo artist here in Reno. It is set to take place on May 9th, and as it gets closer we will have more details to follow!

For Chris, every day counts. And he's making the best of it.

"It makes you appreciate life so much more," Chris said. "You just try to live through life not doing any harm, not be judgmental, and to love everyone. My family and my wife are a huge thing that keep me going.  I’m glad when I come in and can say that I tried today and gave someone a cool tatt."
In his spare time, Chris likes to shoot. Although not a hunter, he has a gun collection and likes to mess around. He also loves to oil paint and draw.

Noël and Jen <3

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