I recently had to head north to Cleveland, Ohio, the home of the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame for a conference, and I decided to stay for a long weekend with my fiancée. After visiting the Hall Of Fame a few times and the Christmas Story house once, we decided to explore downtown Cleveland. After dinner one night, we decided to take a walk near the West Side Market area and we came across this amazing tattoo shop on West 25th Street. The name of the shop was Voodoo Monkey Tattoo. I actually remembered a security guard at the Hall mentioning this tattoo parlor after seeing my tattoos. He said this place was the best in Cleveland and after my visit, I might have to agree with him. Yes, it’s not a Jersey shop, but isn’t it nice to know there are great shops in other states, too?
Anyway, we walked into Voodoo Monkey Tattoo and it just looked like your typical tattoo shop painted in blood red, naturally, with checkered black and red tile flooring. The walls were stacked with those gigantic wall-hung flash art portfolios for clients to look at. It wasn’t a big place like most Jersey shops that I am used to visiting. As we walked in, the front desk is right in front of you with drawing tables for artists to do their preliminary work and all of the tattooing stations right behind. The shop didn’t seem too busy, but then again, we did show up pretty late and it seemed like they were ready to close up shop. We were greeted by one of the shop’s co-owners and artists, Natalie Roelle, who is an actual artist by trade before she fell in love with the tattoo medium. She told me that when it comes to tattoos, she likes to work on big, bold, well-designed custom and colored artwork and said that she appreciates it when her clients think about their tattoos as art that works with their body as a whole.
Natalie’s partner at Voodoo Monkey is tattoo vet Dave Stalter, who’s been tattooing since the late ’90s. Dave also started out as a commercial artist and has a background in it, but he, too, eventually fell in love with tattooing and the constant interaction with people. Dave and Natalie wanted to open a shop that was close to where the action was near downtown historic Ohio City in a neighborhood that was diverse and a growing community and not to mention within walking distance of various shops, restaurants, the West Side Market, and major highway access. After all, it’s all about the right location and Voodoo Monkey has been a popular spot since the day they opened their doors, and from what I can tell, it’s not only because of their location. This place was immaculate and the work they were putting out was above average.
Natalie told me that one thing she and Dave thrive on with their shop is that they believe in tattooing in the safest and cleanest environment possible and they want their clients to feel the same way. They also wanted to provide their customers with a relaxed and professional atmosphere, while showing a sincere and caring approach when it comes to tattooing their clients. When we discussed the cleanliness and safety in their shop, Natalie was quick to point out that her entire staff had undergone training in Principles of Infection Control and Bloodborne Pathogens and the shop is inspected regularly by the City of Cleveland’s Health Department and meets or exceeds all local and federal standards. Trust me, I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again that a sterile and clean shop should be one of the first things you look for in a tattoo shop. Of course, the artwork is just as important, but if they are dirty, it’s your health that you’re messing with.
Joining Natalie and David at Voodoo Monkey Tattoo are artists Sean Jaundice, a 14-year tattoo vet, John Forgus, a Cleveland native, Eric Kaplan, Doug Kulbis, and newcomer Lauren Vandevier, who just completed her apprenticeship with Voodoo Monkey. Natalie assured that all of her artists come with tons of experience and have artistic backgrounds. Voodoo Monkey is mainly a custom shop and they do free touch-ups when they feel like it. Natalie told me that walk-ins are welcome into the shop, but they prefer appointments since the shop has been getting pretty busy lately. When we talked prices, she told me that the cost of their tattoos really depended on the size, amount of detail, color, placement, and overall length of time required to do the tattoo. The only way for her to accurately price a tattoo is to see the design in person and then assess how long it might take, and then decide how much work will need to be involved. The shop minimum price is $50 with a typical hourly rate of at least $100, and here’s the best part: Voodoo Monkey is a cash-only shop! That means no credit cards, which means no problems!
Voodoo Monkey is open Monday through Saturday 1 p.m. until 8 p.m. and closed on Sundays. If you’re ever in Cleveland and would like to visit this awesome tattoo shop, they’re located at 2070 West 25th Street in Cleveland, OH. If you’re really in the area and would like to make an appointment, you can call the shop at (216) 664-5658 or email them at email@example.com. You can also take a look at their work online at voodoomonkey.org. After driving by a few tattoo shops in Cleveland, trust me when I tell you that Voodoo Monkey Tattoo was a real treat to walk into.
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.