Last September, as I walked around a jam-packed Inked Out Tattoo Show at the Meadowlands Expo Center in Secaucus, NJ, I came across a Staten Island tattoo shop that I would come to learn had a pretty interesting background. The name of the place was Bullseye Tattoo Shop, but they weren’t always a storefront. In fact, Bullseye Tattoos started out as an online store. I know what you’re saying, “A tattoo shop online?” No!
It turns out that Bullseye co-owner Eric Iovino, a Fashion Institute Of Technology grad, had hopes of becoming a comic book illustrator before seeing his dreams come crashing down in 1996—when comic giant Marvel declared bankruptcy. But right as this happened, tattoo parlors began to pop up all over NYC with the re-legalizing of the practice in the city around 1997. Iovino, who, at the time, had no body art, jumped on an opportunity to create flash art, and sell them to tattoo shops around NYC. After selling his first one and hours later seeing his artwork tattooed on someone’s body, he knew that he was onto something. In 2001, wanting to make flash art design a full-time job, Iovino would hook up with fellow F.I.T. graduate, Victor Modafferi, to open bullseyetattoos.com shortly thereafter. Iovino and Modafferi would start out selling their artwork to tattoo parlors by way of eBay, but according to Modafferi, their business really began to take off when they started marketing their flash art in bulk, selling 50 sheets at a time for a discounted price to tattoo shops around the world.
They launched the website in 2002, allowing people to shop for tattoos from the privacy of their own home, and, at the time, they were the only site offering a service like this. Clients would be able to buy their tattoo design online, print it out, and bring it to their local tattoo parlor to get it tattooed. Today, Modafferi and Iovino are still the two primary designers on the site, but over a hundred artists around the world now also design for Bullseye. In fact, if you Google the word “tattoo,” Bullseye will be among the first few choices on the first page. According to co-owner Victor Modafferi, their website receives about 10 million hits a day with 35,000 unique visitors. That’s quite impressive!
Another big break came for the business partners in 2005 when Bic lighters paid them $30,000 to use sixteen of their designs for a brand new line of Bic tattoo lighters. By 2006, bullseyetattoos.com was selling roughly $310,000 worth of its annual flash collections to tattoo shops worldwide with total revenues climbing to $900,000. Their online success triggered the December 2008 opening of their very own tattoo parlor appropriately named Bullseye Tattoo Shop in Staten Island. To me, this story is absolutely fascinating!
Iovino now helps run the business from his home in Florida while Modafferi runs the shop in Staten Island, which is located on New Dorp Lane. It doesn’t look like your average tattoo shop because Modafferi says that he didn’t want the place to look like bikers and criminals hang out in there. This full custom tattoo shop has a client base that ranges from the average 18-year-old who’s been itching to get a tattoo legally to a 65-year-old woman who wants to take a walk on the wild side. The shop seems to be attracting all walks of life coming in to see what tattooing is all about.
Modafferi says that the funny thing now is that customers are printing out his flash designs they bought off of his flash website and bringing them into the shop to get it tattooed. While Modafferi is usually busy designing new artwork and running the ship, he says that the company’s reputation in the industry has been attracting some of the country’s most talented tattoo artists to come in and guest tattoo for them. For instance, this year’s Ink Master Winner, Shane O’Neill, travels up to Staten Island from his Delaware shop once a month to take on customers by appointment only.
Besides having guest artists, the shop houses six featured artists, including Modafferi. Joining Modafferi are artists Julio Cesar Arroyo, Steve Skelly, Liz Manzolini, Danny Lepore, and Matt Fibikar, all of whom are amazing artists with their own specialties—from script to portraits to black and grey. Bullseye Tattoo Shop has also added body piercing to their repertoire and is 100 percent sterilized, from all needles to machines. Their prices for actual tattoo work starts at $50, but pricing varies depending on the size and detail the artwork. Larger tattoos that will take several sittings to complete will be subject to an hourly rate of about $125 to $150 per hour. All consultations are complimentary with the artist of your choice. Plus, there’s a cash deposit for all new tattoo appointments. The deposit will go towards the price of your tattoo. Bullseye takes a $50 deposit for appointments that are less than 4 hours of work, and $100 for appointments of 4 hours or more.
The shop is open Monday through Wednesday from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m., Thursday through Saturday from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 7 p.m. Walk-ins are always welcome though appointments are preferred, which is typical of most shops. Again, appointments are always needed for the guest artists.
If you’d like to learn more about Bullseye Tattoo’s unique story, you can log onto bullseyetattooshop.com or their flash art page, bullseyetattoos.com. You can visit them in Staten Island, NY, at 282 New Dorp Lane. You can also find out more about their shop and make appointments by calling them at (718) 979-4528, or email the shop at firstname.lastname@example.org. This is an amazing shop with an amazing back story! Check it out for yourself!
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 e-mail me the name of the place and whom I should ask for at email@example.com.