Janet, the all-powerful virtual assistant (imagine an intergalactic Alexa) on the metaphysical sitcom “The Good Place,” does not have a tattoo. But D’Arcy Carden, the actress who plays her, does. Three fletched arrows — a tribute to her three siblings and a play on her maiden name, Erokan (“arrow-can,” get it?) — nestle just below her left elbow.
Ms. Carden, in New York recently to take a few meetings, wanted another. Which explains why she was spending a snowy Friday sunk into the pink velvet couch of Rosa Bluestone Perr, a tattoo artist with a private studio in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn. She practices a style of tattooing called “stick and poke,” which made Ms. Carden a little apprehensive. “Those words are so intimidating,” she said.
Still, Ms. Carden, 39, her hands wrapped around a mug of peppermint tea, considered her tattoo options. She had thought about getting a crown, a homage to a “weird little chant” her father used to do (“You are the king of the world!”).
She had also considered getting a tattoo of her husband’s birthday. But she ultimately decided on a “¢” symbol, in honor of her dog, Penny, a floppy-eared pit bull rescue.
Ms. Carden got her tattoo at the Brooklyn studio of Rosa Bluestone Perr, right. CreditNina Westervelt for The New York Times
“She’s, like, my new love,” Ms. Carden said. “I’ve loved my dad for many decades. And I’ve loved my husband for many years. But I’m newly in love with my dog.”
After growing up in central California and studying theater at Southern Oregon University, she moved to Brooklyn about 15 years ago, taking improv classes at the Upright Citizens Brigade and working as a guide for the Ride, a sightseeing tour in Manhattan. She and her friends were short on cash, “trying so hard to do what we loved,” she said. “I mean, the amount of, like, pizza. And it was such a struggle. And it was such a good time.”
Five years ago, she and her husband, Jason Carden, an actor and producer, moved out to Los Angeles, to the Silver Lake neighborhood, “which is kind of Brooklyn-y,” she said.
Just when despair was kicking in, the roles came: a loopy spin instructor on “Broad City,” an acting student on “Barry” and a lead role as Janet on “The Good Place,” in which she plays opposite Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. (Coordinating the shooting schedules for multiple comedies is no joke.)
Working on a fizzily optimistic show like “The Good Place” is “healthy for me,” Ms. Carden said. “It’s about imperfect people trying to be better.”
After finishing her tea, Ms. Carden took out her iPhone to show Ms. Perr some of the designs she liked. (The phone had a picture of Timothée Chalamet on the home screen. “I thought I’d do Chalamet across my chest,” she joked.)
“This one spoke to my brain the most,” she said, pointing to a cent symbol haloed by diamonds, though Ms. Carden wanted a topper of three dots instead, to represent “Me, Jason and Penny,” she said.
Ms. Perr uploaded the design to her computer, tweaked it and then sent it to a printer. In the meantime, she had Ms. Carden sign a liability waiver. “Are you trying to scare me?” Ms. Carden said.
With the stencil in hand, the two women stood in front of a full-length mirror to figure out where the tattoo should go. They quickly decided on the area beneath Ms. Carden’s right wrist bone, which would be a slight hassle for the makeup artists on “The Good Place,” but until Janet gets a tattoo upgrade, that’s that.
“You can’t overthink it, but you totally have to overthink it, but then you have to just go, like, ‘I know I like this,’” Ms. Carden said, sounding like she was trying to convince herself and mostly succeeding.
Ms. Perr had Ms. Carden lay faceup on a red massage table. “This is very like the gyno,” Ms. Carden said. Ms. Perr pulled on some black plastic gloves and a gold ring that held black ink. She wet Ms. Carden’s wrist with a lotion called Stencil Stuff and applied the stencil, almost like a temporary tattoo.
Then, holding a needle she began to stick and poke Ms. Carden’s wrist, refilling the needle every poke or two, and leaving a dot of ink beneath the skin with each poke. That was less like the gyno.
Ms. Carden, who very sensibly does not love needles, had been worried about the pain. But it wasn’t so bad. “Oh, I could do this all day!,” she said. With her free hand she answered a FaceTime call from her husband. “We’re doing it,” she said. A couple of “I love you”s and the call was over. Fifteen minutes later, so was the tattooing.
“It’s just perfect,” Ms Carden said.
Ms. Perr bandaged it, telling her not to swim or immerse herself in water for two weeks and to gently wash the tattoo with unscented soap and maybe apply a little coconut oil.
“I love it,” Ms. Carden said. “Yup, this is my tattoo and I love it. I love it.”
Hopefully, the dog will, too.