This month my journey of the area’s coolest tattoo shops leads me to my very first shop in the Empire State…New York! Well, technically, Nanuet is so close to Jersey that it still has that Jersey state of mind.
Anyway, I decided to stop down at Modern Age Tattoo, which is located right on Main St. in the heart of Nanuet, NY. Yes, right off of Rt. 59! Modern Age Tattoo opens its doors at noon and when I entered the shop about a half hour after it opened, I heard the sound of a machine buzzing already! I thought to myself that this is a good sign. These guys were tattooing the minute they opened. Tattoo artist Jimmie Arroyo, who at the moment was working on a “Grim Reaper” piece for customer Steven Gesner, greeted me. Jimmie introduced me to Modern Age Tattoo owner and tattoo journeyman, Robert Balter, who gave me a quick tour of the extremely clean shop, which always gives you a good feeling when you see that.
Modern Age is actually two shops in one with two separate entrances. One side is all about tattoos, and the other side is for the piercing. Robert opened Modern Age Tattoo in 1997. There were actually two Modern Age Tattoo locations until recently. The other was in Haverstraw, NY, but Robert closed it to concentrate more on his Nanuet shop.
Robert has quite an interesting resume. He’s been tattooing since 1982, traveling to military bases and tattooing the soldiers. He also would travel to Daytona every year for “Bike Week” and Sturgis where he would tattoo the visiting bikers from around the country. In 1984, Robert moved to Denver, CO, to work for a guy named Sugar Bear at a place called Emporium Of Design where he built his reputation as an established tattoo artist. In 1986, Robert moved back to New York and opened his first shop in Upstate New York, which he closed in 1991. He has no regrets though because that is where he learned to run his own shop. After closing up shop in 1991, Robert moved to Florida where he would work for Louie Lombi’s Tattoo Paradise. In 1997, Robert would bring his experience in the business to Nanuet, NY, where he would open his second shop, Modern Age Tattoo.
Rob says that within the past 10 years, he’s never had a problem with any of the neighbors or neighboring businesses. In fact, he’s another tattoo professional who tells me that the tattoo industry has changed so “socially” since he started in the business. He remembers the day when people used to be afraid to walk into tattoo shops, whereas now, much of Rob’s clientele are walk-ins.
Robert also told me that he really doesn’t do much advertising, but his shop is still always busy thanks to “word of mouth,” and the fact that there really isn’t any competition in the area helps also. Tattooing isn’t the only thing Robert has going for him. He also sells his own tattoo machines, which he only sells to professional tattoo artists. This guy is like a jack-of-all-trades!
Modern Age Tattoo, the shop, boasts tons of flash art to choose from on its walls. There is so much art on the walls that Robert is having a hard time finding space for the new art. They are mainly a flash art shop, but can customize the artwork to the customer’s liking. Another thing Modern Age does is cover-up work, which Robert was doing for customer Jennifer Paone, who got a botched Chinese symbol tattoo from another shop. Robert was more than happy to fix it for her, and he made this cover-up job look outstanding. I felt bad for Jennifer, because her botch job was really bad. It looked like something out of a Crackerjack box that wouldn’t wash off.
As for the piercing, everyone in the shop can pierce, but Rob’s wife Carmen is the main piercer. The shop will not tattoo or pierce anyone under the age of 18 without the written consent from the teenager’s parent. Rob won’t even let a legal guardian be the consenting adult, claiming that he wants a direct consent from the parent. He won’t even pierce anyone under the age of 14, consent form or not. Another “no-no” for the shop is genitalia piercing. They’ll pierce anything but the genitals. When I asked Robert about the age range for tattooing in his shop, he said that they usually get between the ages of 18 to about 50, and that the shop pulls in a lot of moms and daughters. Occasionally, he’ll get a 70-year-old who wants a tattoo of a loved one that they just lost.
The rates at Modern Age Tattoo are about average compared to most tattoo shops, starting at $150 per hour. Robert says that tattoos are for the blue-collar worker, so he tries to keep his rates fair for them. Rob also told me that tattooing tends to be seasonal, so the shop sometimes hits a low point, but after Christmas, business picks right back up.
Robert surrounds himself by professional artists also at Modern Age Tattoo. Joining Robert is part-time artist Alex Sherker, who was very cool and very into music, and then there are two other full-time artists like Jimmie Arroyo, whom I mentioned earlier, and Bobby Meyers. Another cool tidbit about Modern Age Tattoo is that Viacom rented the shop from Robert to film one of the last episodes of the show “Ed.” Modern Age Tattoo is definitely another one of the cool shops, especially if you’re in the Rockland County area. Stop in! You’ll be welcomed with open arms. Modern Age Tattoo is located at 183 Main St. in Nanuet, NY. For more info on the shop or to book an appointment, you can call 845-627-1086 or go to their website at modernagetattoos.com