EUGENE, Ore. - You might call Craig Kennedy a walking contradiction: a tattoo artis who is afraid of needles.
"Like hypodermic needles and stuff like that, doctor needles," he said. "I've been doing art all my life, and tattoos are just a way for me to do more art."
A tattoo artist with a fear of needles is nothing short of comical, but it's not what sets him apart.
"I have a different set of morals," Kennedy said. "I don't do dark subject matter, you know. I try to do stuff that edifies God."
Kennedy is a Christian tattoo artist, an idea not everyone agrees with.
"I get persecuted in the tattoo world for being a Christian," he said, "and then I get persecuted in the Christian world for being a tattoo artist."
Other Christians are often the most vocal.
"When I jumped out of the shop I saw this taped to the window," he said of a note, "and it was just like: Really? Come on.
"I get hate phone calls: how can you say you are a Christian and be tattooing, don't you know what the Lord says? Read the Bible."
Whether you agree with tattoos or not is a personal thing.
Economics and business are another matter.
A Dun and Bradstreet report shows that between 2007 and 2010, when Kennedy opened, the failure rate for small businesses increased by 40 percent nationwide. Take a quick trip around town and you'll find plenty of competition for tattoo artists.
Pile that on top of the challenges he faces as a Christian tattoo artist, and it might seem like he is setting himself up for failure.
"I don't see it as setting myself up for failure," Kennedy said. "I honestly didn't want to do it, and God just kept opening the doors for me."
Nearly 3 years later he is still going strong.
"I actually started at a shop that was 500 square feet," Kennedy said, "and now I've grown to a shop that is 1,400 square feet."
Not too bad for a business he never wanted to start.
"A lot of people just like my artwork, whether they are Christian or not," Kennedy said. "They want to come in and get a tattoo by me."
Kennedy keeps positive, even if there are those who disagree with him mixing tattoos and Christianity.
"God tells us not to judge each other," Kennedy said. "The plan he has for me isn't necessarily for them, but he has a plan for each one of us."
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