VINTAGE TATTOO—Pequannock, NJ
I was informed about a new tattoo shop in Pequannock, NJ, back in July, but unfortunately, because of scheduling, I haven’t been able to visit until now. The only thing is that it’s not really a new tattoo shop, it’s more a revamped tattoo shop with a brand new owner. You see, Vintage Tattoo used to be Starlight Tattoo, which was owned by the popular Mario Barth. Last year, however, an 11-year employee of Mario’s named Frank decided that he wanted to branch off and open his own shop. So, Mario sold it to him, and this past May, Vintage Tattoo was born.

Frank, who’s been tattooing since the spring of 1995, decided that he wanted to surround himself with some familiar faces when he opened Vintage so he brought on two other tattoo artists that he was familiar with. One being a guy named Jed, who was trained by the legendary Jersey tattoo artist Ernie White 17 years ago and had worked with Frank at Starlight for the past eight years. The other was one of Mario’s apprentices named Tut, who started tattooing back in 2005, and has been in and out of shops honing in his skills around Jersey. The last shop that he worked for was up in Nyack, NY, until he got the call from his former Starlight Tattoo co-worker to come join him in his new shop. Tut didn’t waste any time packing his bags and heading to Jersey.

I made my way to lovely Pequannock, NJ, where I pulled up to this nice little shop on a very busy Newark Pompton Turnpike. The shop, painted in a crimson red, was adorned with some framed flash work. Frank says that he wanted to make the shop comfortable and modern, so he took down those big wall portfolios that you see in the older shops. To be honest, no one looks at those things anymore, especially with everyone bringing in their own art work that they find on the Internet. Anyway, the shop has two private tattoo rooms, and a third, which is Frank’s room at the front of the store for passersby to watch him tattoo through the storefront window. In the middle of the shop is a waiting area with a brand new leather couch and a coffee table with Frank, Jed and Tut’s portfolios for clients to look through for ideas.

I had to ask Frank, “With the plethora of tattoo shops in the area, what would bring a new customer like me into his shop?” He told me, “The quality of work and the personal attention that we give our clients, and not to mention, we’re nice guys and we’re really good looking!” Well, the first half would’ve sold me, Frank!

Vintage Tattoo was an extremely clean, comfortable and friendly shop. He told me that everything he and his crew uses is disposable and that everything is sterilized. When I mentioned autoclave, what many shops use to sterilize their equipment, Frank told me that autoclave sterilization is on its way out, and that most shops are going disposable because it’s cheaper and less worrisome. You learn something new every day, I guess!

Vintage is mainly a custom shop that will manipulate any artwork that is brought in, but after seeing some of Frank, Jed and Tut’s work, you might want to consider letting them handle all of your artwork. Frank says that appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are always welcome. When it comes to age, Vintage will not tattoo anyone less than 18 years old without a legal ID, but Frank did tell me that he’s not afraid to refer an underage customer to a shop that is willing to tattoo under 18 with parental consent. In fact, he also told me that he’s not afraid to refer customers to other artists if he and his artists don’t specialize in a certain style. Frank also said, to him, there’s no such thing as competition, and that they’re all in the same industry!

I asked Frank how his prices were compared to the rest of the shops, and he told me that they have an $80 minimum and that everything goes up from there depending on the piece. If its section work like back pieces and sleeves, they charge by the hour, which is $175 an hour, but it also depends on the detail and the size of the piece, especially, if the piece takes a few sessions. Bottom line is that with these three guys’ quality of work and combined 40 years of experience, these prices are more than fair.

After my visit to Vintage Tattoo, I have to give it my seal of approval! This seems to be a great shop that should be here in Pequannock for some time, even in this trying economy. If you’re in the North Jersey area and you’re looking to get some ink done, I would stop in at Vintage Tattoo to see if you can occupy one of these talented artist’s time. You can stop in at the shop Tuesday through Saturday anytime between 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. to take a look.

They’re located at 131 Newark Pompton Turnpike in Pequannock, NJ, or you can always call them for an appointment at (973) 694-6944. If you’d like to check out their artwork, log onto vintagetattoonj.com.

Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo spot! Who knows what state it will be in! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest, please email me the name of the place and for whom I should ask at tim@theaquarian.com.

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