On the surface, it would seem that Martin Schmieg is the most indecisive man in America.
Schmieg's in the process of removing a handful of black tattoos from his arms, and still bears pink flesh from others he's had lasered off.
"I'm gonna get rid of all of them and then keep putting them on," Schmieg said.
It's all in the name of science - and some profit.
Schmieg is president and CEO of Freedom2, a Cherry Hill-based company developing a "safer" line of tattoo inks.
Schmieg claims that one of those inks, Infinitink, can be removed by laser in half the time and costing 75 percent less than removing conventional ink.
"Every time we've created a new ink, I've had it on me," said Schmieg, who was raised in North Philly. "This is the most fun I've ever had on a job."
Freedom2 plans on distributing Infinitink to tattoo artists later this year, but Schmieg said that it's been difficult selling the concept of a quality, removable ink to the tattoo community.
"The initial response was predictable," he said. "All the artists were pissed off."
Scott Musick, an artist at Body Graphics near 9th and Arch in Chinatown, was one of them.
"I think it's horses--t," Musick said. "It's just another way for someone to make a buck."
Cindy Solano, of No Ka Oi in Philadelphia, said that artists care only about the quality of the ink.
"I don't worry about whether or not it's going to come off someday," she said. "We use one ink here. I have to be certain that it's going to look good 10, 20 years down the line."
Musick said that he hadn't tried the ink yet, but that he remains wary.
"If I do it and it looks like hell in three years, what's going to happen?" he said. "The people will come after me.
"If it's bright, goes in easy and doesn't fade, I'm all for it."
Schmieg says that Infinitink hits all three marks.
"We were really focused on removability in the beginning and a lot of artists only heard about that," he said. "The aesthetic qualities of the ink are the most important thing right now."
Regrets often bring people to visit a laser-removal center, Schmieg said, where the process is longer, possibly more painful and definitely more expensive than the tattoo that's coming off.
Dr. Eric Bernstein, of Philadelphia, says that removal can cost from $250 to $500, even for a small tattoo. That's why he cautions people to think before going under the needle.
"You know, 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce," he said. "That's why you can't go wrong getting your kids' names."
Solano said that most tattoo artists will warn customers about tattoos they may later regret, but only to a point.
"You're an adult and we're not your babysitters," she said. "If you're having trouble making up your mind, just don't do it."
But if you do go through with it, Schmieg said that he simply wants to make it easier to make your gang symbol or sweetheart's name disappear.
"We're all about permanent tattoos," he said.
"But some day down the road, if you want to get it off, it will be easier and safer." *