It’s now 2008, and my adventure of visiting the area’s various tattoo shops continues. There have been some that I really liked and some that I really liked leaving, but Silk City Tattoo in Hawthorne, NJ, made me very comfortable from the moment I stepped into the shop. Silk City Tattoo’s co-manager and artist, Christian Masot welcomed me with a friendly greeting and his personality would make any customer want to come back to get inked.
Silk City Tattoo is owned by Judy Krebs, the mother of the late “Wild Bill” Krebs. The two put Pleasurable Piercings on the map. Judy seemed to be very laid back and understanding of the business. It just so happens that Pleasurable Piercings is located right around the corner from Silk City Tattoo, so for you one-stop shoppers, you have the best of both needle worlds.
Silk City opened its doors in 1999, and has welcomed all walks of life, according to Christian. Of course, you have your rockers, bikers and such coming in to get tattooed, but lately, he’s even been getting doctors, lawyers, dentists, and businessmen. Christian says that tv shows like “Miami Ink” have really helped that, because people who wouldn’t normally walk into a tattoo shop see on tv that it’s okay and it has taken away the intimidation factor. Once shows like “Miami Ink” hit the airwaves people saw that these shops aren’t filled with drug addict artists who are just trying to make a buck. Christian also went on to say that since he started tattooing back in 2000, he definitely has seen a change in the industry. It has become more acceptable to have tattoos without getting stared at and plus, it makes people feel good about themselves to have them.
When I asked Christian about his tattoo background, he told me that he did his apprenticeship down at Underground Tattoo in Secaucus, NJ, for a little while, and then he started working at Starlight Tattoo in Rochelle Park, NJ, where Mario Barth took him under his wing and fine tuned his skills, along with teaching him about the business aspect of tattooing. So, it seems like Christian has learned from the best! Christian told me that his core of customers range between 18 years of age to 30, but the shop’s core ranges from 16 to about 40 with the under 18-year- olds, of course, requiring consent forms from their parents or legal guardians. When I asked about the price range, Christian told me that it varies, but is on the average of most shops in the area. They can go from as low as $70 to anywhere between $125 to $150 per hour. Trust me, that is the average in this area, if not less. Now, Silk City Tattoo is mostly a custom and traditional tattoo shop, but they’ll never turn away any flash work either. In fact, Christian tells me that’s what artist Chi Chi Gunz specializes in. Christian said that he, himself, specializes in Japanese art, or anything big and colorful. He does a lot of portraits too.
Another thing that I found very interesting was that when I mentioned to Christian about having a slow period or a slow season like most of the other shops, he told me that he was booked through March, and for some reason people want to get tattooed in this cold weather. I found that to be odd because most shops seem to hit a slow period around the holidays, only to have business pick up after tax season or a warmer weather change, but he says that they’re always busy, and walk-ins are always welcome.
When I asked Christian if there were any tattoo requests that he’s ever gotten that were so out of the ordinary that he had to refuse them, he told me that it’s never that it’s out of the ordinary. Sometimes people want tattoos of artwork that looks great on paper, but he feels would look horrible on skin. He would sit there with the customer and consult them before they spend all of their hard earned money on something that is going to look crappy. If they insist, then he would turn them down because bad tattoo work is a reflection on his professionalism and it’s not about making a quick buck tattooing what a customer wants. He has a reputation to uphold and it seems like he’s doing a pretty good job of upholding that reputation.
Of course, I had to ask what would draw a customer like myself, who might be looking to get more tattoos, into Silk City Tattoo? Christian was quick to say that not one person at Silk City treats their customers like a paycheck, which I found really different as an answer. He went on to say that he and his crew develop really tight relationships with their customers to the point where their customers would just come back to the shop without getting ink done, and just hang out. They might even bring brownies that their wives made for the shop. Of course, there’s a lot of jokes amongst the customers and the artists, but with jokes comes bonding, and I definitely got that sense just talking to Christian for a half hour.
Surrounding Christian is his experienced staff of artists, like co-manager Shawn Dillon. Then there’s Chi Chi Gunz, Hollywood Kills singer Russell Kelley, Christian’s childhood buddy Nick Males, a guy named Ruler, and Adam Paterson. Silk City Tattoo does have gift certificates available in any denomination just in case you’re looking to give the gift of ink to that special someone.
I really liked this place and probably will return. Check it out for yourself online at silkcitytattoo.com or on myspace at myspace.com/silkcitytattoo. If you want to visit them in person, you can call them at first at 973-238-9167. Silk City Tattoo is located at 7 Garfield Ave. in Hawthorne, NJ.
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo place!