After getting a few e-mails from my buddy, Michelle, about a cool tattoo shop down in Brick, NJ, I decided to make the trek down the shore to check this place out. The name of the shop is Tribal Passage Dermagraphic Arts Studio, and meeting the shop’s owner, Scott Winters, made my trip to Brick all the more worthwhile. Scott was very cool, laid back, easy to talk to, and he had a great sense of humor to boot, which are all huge reasons why a customer would keep coming back. Tribal Passage is located in a strip mall at 1889 Rt. 88. In fact, Scott just moved Tribal Passage to this location back in December. The old shop, where he was located for 14 years, was also on Rt. 88, just up the street. According to Scott, the old shop was pretty much hidden, which made it difficult for customers to find him. This new location is very visible and in a great spot for walk-in customers to just come in and check out. This new studio is also what Scott likes to call “The Oldest Brand New Shop in Brick,” since he’s been there forever, but he’s opened a brand new shop! Get it?
So, I walked into Tribal Passage and was greeted by owner/artist Scott Winters. I took a look around the shop, which was very roomy, but I noticed that other than Scott, there was nobody else working here. Of course, I had to ask Scott if Tribal Passage was just him. He laughed and told me that he was still in the middle of putting a new staff together. He’s been interviewing tons of great artists, but wants to surround himself with the best people possible. So if you’re a tattoo artist and looking for summer work, you can send your portfolio and resume to Scott. Scott is looking for a receptionist also.
Anyway, besides being understaffed, Scott told me that he’s still very busy, averaging 15-20 tattoo pieces a week. He said that the funny thing is that with shows like “Miami Ink” on tv, some customers come in asking for these big custom pieces, thinking that it will only take like 40 minutes to an hour to do, not realizing that what they’re watching on tv is hours, or even days worth of work edited down to a one hour episode. When he tells them how long their big custom pieces will actually take, their eyes almost pop out of their heads! I thought that it was pretty funny how silly some people can actually be!
Scott doesn’t do much advertising for Tribal Passage, and says that most of his business comes through word of mouth. He says that it really is a small world because it seems like everybody knows somebody, and he learned this through his word of mouth advertising. Scott, who has been tattooing for about 25 years, tells me that he has an older clientele ranging from 25 to about 75 in age and most are repeat customers. He’s very selective when it comes to tattooing younger customers. In fact, he’s even fought to stop the tattooing of minors, stating that tattooing should be an adult pleasure, like Playboy magazine. If you can’t buy a Playboy, then you shouldn’t be able to get a tattoo. Plus, he says that there’s just too much paperwork involved for working on minors.
As far as the older folks that he’s tattooed go, he remembers tattooing an older Italian couple in their late 60s, who wanted matching tattoos on each other. Scott said that he asked them why they decided to tattoo so late in life, and the older gent replied in a thick Italian accent that they were going to a family reunion and he thought that it would be a goof to show everybody that he and his wife got tattooed. That shows that you’re never too old to goof around!
Tribal Passage, like most tattoo shops, does have those big binders on the walls filled with Flash Art for their customers to choose from, but Scott prefers to work on custom pieces. He doesn’t like to do repeat tattoos and he doesn’t like to copy other artists’ work. He thinks copying is just BAD! Don’t get me wrong, he’ll do the Flash tattoos, but he prefers custom pieces. The prices at Tribal Passage are on the average compared to most other shops, ranging from $150 to $250 per hour depending on the piece. Scott also says that he never minds doing consultations on tattooing. He’ll work with the customers on their pieces and answer any questions about the equipment or needles that he uses.
When I asked him if he had any boundaries or if he’s ever come across tattoos that he wouldn’t do, he told me that he would never tattoo anything racist or gang-related. Sometimes there are people who come in asking for cover-up work, which he does, but some work is just impossible to cover up, and those are the ones that he won’t touch either. As for anything outrageous, Scott says, “Bring it on, man! You have some bizarre tattoo or you want a tattoo on some crazy part of your body, bring it on!… But I’m takin’ pictures!” My next question for Scott was what he specialized in, tattooing-wise, and he told me that he specialized in floral work. Scott says, “I really enjoy doing flowers. I try to make ’em so that you can smell ’em!” What? He also likes doing Japanese style work and older stuff like Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy-type stuff, which he wished customers would request more often.
The name of the shop is Tribal Passage, and you can definitely get tribal work done here, but as you can clearly see, you can pretty much get anything done here! Owner Scott Winters is a great guy and he will take care of you! He says that “walk-ins” are always welcome, but until he rebuilds his staff, he’d prefer appointments only, so if you live down by the Jersey shore or are heading down there for Memorial Day weekend, make your appointments now! Call with your tattoo ideas and proposed appointment dates. Like I said before, if you’re a tattoo artist looking for summer work or even permanent work, you too can e-mail Scott your resume and portfolio. You can also make an appointment by calling Tribal Passage at 732-458-8569.