Spending a lot of time in the Philadelphia area lately, I stumbled upon a hidden gem located right in the Fishtown neighborhood of Philly after dinner one night. The name of the shop was Art Machine Productions, and it reminded me of a shop that belonged right in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It had that “Hey, look at us! We’re artists”-feel about it and that’s kind of what attracted me to the place. My fiancée and I are huge art nuts, so we were anxious to walk into Art Machine Productions.
We walked into this large art studio (2,700 square feet, as I was told, to be exact), which was located at 1345 Frankford Avenue in Philly, and were just overwhelmed by the décor. The floors had this kind of an epoxy resin look and led us into the waiting room, which had a very Zen feel to it with a large Jade Buddha standing against the wall as its centerpiece. Toward the back of the studio were these wall partitions opening the spaces for tattoo areas so the artists can make their magic happen.
I was actually surprised when I discovered that Art Machine Productions is actually owned by none other than cover-up artist on TLC’s America’s Worst Tattoos, Tim Pangburn, who is also an artist in the shop. Tim, who started tattooing back in 1998 in a small South Jersey town, got his start in the tattoo business by doing an old-fashioned apprenticeship. He says that one thing he was taught early in his career was that “you should be able to do any tattoo that walks in the door.” Because he learned this early in his career, he is considered to be a very well-rounded artist, being able to shift from style to style based on what the client wants. Tim prefers to work on new school-style tattoos, but feels equally comfortable working on traditional, realism, portraiture, black and grey, biomechanical, and as you’ve seen on America’s Worst Tattoos, cover-ups. Tim says, “My love for cover-ups is based on the very things that most artists find most frustrating about them. They are challenging, unpredictable, and often can’t be planned for in the same way you would with any other tattoo.”
Tim is supported by an amazing staff of four other full-time and award-winning artists including a guy named Resp, Steve Bishov, Gia Rose and Benji Harris. According to their website, the shop also hosts a number of guest tattoo artists from all over the world each month such as Evan Lovett, Tony Mancia, Casey Olejniczak, Ryan Szadyr and many more. Tim said that Art Machine Productions is not only a tattoo studio, they are also active in the local art scene as well. They are an active participant of the Frankford Arts First Friday gallery showing, where featured artwork changes on a monthly basis. This place really did belong in Williamsburg! Tim assured us that the gallery was always open for viewing.
When I asked about walk-ins, I was told that walk-ins, of course, were always welcome, but when it came to being tattooed by Tim, there was a long wait. He said that he was well-booked into late 2013 and had even stopped taking on new clients for his wait-list. I guess being on tv really does have its benefits, huh? Tim does, however, refer all of his clients to other artists at Art Machine Productions, all of whom do just as “beautiful custom tattoos and cover-ups.” The shop does prefer appointments, though. All appointments require a non-refundable $100 deposit during scheduling. If a customer has to reschedule their appointment, it has to be done no less than 48 hours prior to their scheduled appointment. Otherwise, they forfeit their deposit and will have to place another $100 down to hold a new appointment slot. The deposit will be applied to the final cost of the tattoo, which brought me to my next question of pricing. Tim explained that each of his artists charges a bit differently. There is no shop standard pricing. Some artists charge by the piece and some charge by the hour. He urges that if a customer would like to know a specific artist’s rates, to contact the shop directly and speak to them. This way the artist can better assess the canvas they will be tattooing on.
When I brought up the latest problem in the tattooing industry, tattoo parties and scratchers, Tim was quick to reply with, “Tattooing out of anywhere but a licensed and health-inspected tattoo studio is not only illegal, it is dangerous! Our studio is set up with all of the proper sterile methods needed for a safe and relaxing tattoo experience. If you and a few friends would like to set up a day to all get tattooed by the same artist, please feel free to contact that artist with an ample amount of time and see if they would be willing to accommodate you and your friends at the studio for a full day.” Tim was right about that! He runs a clean shop! It might be one of the cleanest I’ve seen in Philadelphia, and I’ve seen quite a few!
If you’re in the Fishtown area of Philadelphia and are in the mood to get some ink work done, Art Machine Productions is your place! They are located at 1345 Frankford Avenue in Philadelphia. You can take a look at the artwork of Tim and his crew at artmachineproductions.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/artmachineproductions. If you have more questions or simply want to make an appointment or even talk to one of the artists, call the studio at (267) 239-2724. Their hours of tattooing are Monday through Saturday 12 p.m. until 10 p.m.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.