Since I started writing this tattoo column that we call Inked Out, I have to admit that 2009 was the craziest of all the past years. I originally took on this column in hopes to find the perfect place to get my next tattoo and I’ve visited some pretty cool shops and even met some of the coolest artists in New Jersey only. For some reason, though, 2009 brought me to shops in NY and PA as well as NJ. Living in Queens, NY, for half of the year, shopping for houses in Eastern PA, and moving down to South Jersey can all be factors as to why this past year, Inked Out was all over the place
Many of these shops were discovered on dates with my girlfriend or during our many day trips. For instance, last January, while having dinner in Park Slope, Brooklyn, we came across a little shop called Hand Of Glory owned by Craig Rodriguez. The name of the shop was what really what caught our attention and upon entering we found it to be homely and old fashioned, but their artwork spoke for itself. If you were in Brooklyn looking for a custom tattoo shop that specializes in traditional, Americana, and Japanese art, Hand Of Glory might be for you. You can take a look at their artwork at handofglorytattoo.com.
Another shop in Brooklyn that might tickle your fancy if you like the traditional Americana artwork is Steve Boltz’s shop, Smith Street Tattoo Parlour, which is obviously located on Smith Street in a growing area of Brooklyn near the Navy yard called Carroll Gardens. I visited Steve’s shop back in April under the advisement of a co-worker and was extremely impressed with it. Steve and his crew specialize in the traditional Americana style that is similar to that of Sailor Jerry and Ed Hardy. To get a good idea of their artwork, you can take a look at their MySpace page, myspace.com/smithstreettattooparlour.
New York City, of course, is covered with some of the best tattoo shops per square mile. When my band Hostel Inc. played down in Alphabet City, I stumbled across Inkstop Tattoo, whose work I found incredible! Owner Eric Rignall does some amazing black and grey work, but he has some stiff competition with the legendary Paul Booth in the same city.
Inkstop Tattoo is a clean custom shop in a great location and Eric’s staff of artists brings a wide range of diversity to the shop. You can take a look at their artwork at inkstoptattoonyc.com or stop in at the shop if you’re in the City.
On the Lower East Side of NYC, there is New York Adorned, which I visited back in March and found it to be one of the coolest shops in NYC. There are 14 very talented artists on staff who are split between the NYC and Brooklyn shop, which is where all of the larger tattoo pieces are done. Although New York Adorned is a custom shop, the staff does get their inspiration from traditional Japanese, Americana, and tribal art. This clean and friendly NYC shop is also known for its jewelry store and since piercing is done on the premises their line of body jewelry is pretty extensive. You can check them out at nyadorned.com.
Now, before my girlfriend and I moved out of Queens, NY, there was a place that I kept on seeing in College Point called Mean Street Tattoo Studio that I always wanted to stop in at. In May, I finally found the opportunity to visit the shop named after a Van Halen song, and I have to admit that Mean Street Tattoo Studio was worth the wait. Artists Johann Florendo and Tommy Murphy had some really impressive and colorful artwork. The shop is super friendly, and super clean to boot! After looking at their artwork again during this wrap up, I might have to make the trek back to Queens to get some work done by them. Their colors are truly amazing! Take a look for yourself at meanstreettattoo.com.
One last shop in the NYC area that I remembered visiting was in Wantagh, Long Island, right next to Mulcahy’s. I was playing a show there with my band Hostel Inc. when I noticed a tattoo shop right next door, and I walked into one of the cleanest tattoo studios in Long Island called Da Vinci Tattoo Studio. When I walked in, the shop’s cleanliness reminded me so much of Pure Ink Tattoo in Ledgewood, NJ. Owner Frank Romano opened this Wantagh staple back in March of 1991, but moved the shop to it’s current location in 2005 due to Da Vinci Tattoo Studio’s growing clientele and high demand of his artists. The shop needed to be bigger and in a better location. You can’t get any better than Sunrise Highway! Check out their amazing work at davincitattoo.com.
One of my favorite shops visited in 2009 belonged to the singer of one of my favorite bands, Mötley Crüe. Back in May, my girlfriend and I made our yearly jaunt to Las Vegas, NV, where I stopped in at Vince Neil Ink, which is perfectly located on the Vegas strip right across from Caesar’s Palace. This place was a Mötley Crüe fan’s wettest dream! It was adorned with Mötley Crüe paraphernalia as well as Vince Neil’s own personal paraphernalia. The coolest part of all is that there is a window that faces the strip where passersby can watch you get tattooed. There’s nothing wrong with drunken people pressing their faces up against the widow while you’re getting a needle stuck in your body. If you ever head out to the City Of Sin, I urge you to stop in at Vince Neil Ink. Take a look at Vince’s artists’ work at vinceneilink.com.
Earlier in 2009, I went shopping for houses in the Eastern PA area, and who knew that I would see so many tattoo shops in PA as well. I’m not talking just small shops either. I’m talking about homely tattoo shops that do some excellent work! The shops that I was able to stop at in the middle of house hunting were Dreamland Creations in Stroudsburg, PA, and Steel City Tattoos in Bethelhem, PA. At Dreamland Creations I got to meet owner Myke Maldonado, who did his apprenticeship with NYC’s Rising Dragon Tattoo artist Damon Rosa. Myke designed Dreamland Creations to be more of an art gallery/tattoo studio, something that many local shops are doing these days. Check out Dreamland Creations’ work at dreamlandcreations.net. If you’re in the Steel City area of Bethelhem, PA, you can stop in at Steel City Tattoos, where you can see owner John Bicknell and his crew tattooing together. I got to witness John and one of his artists, Little Chico, tattooing one guy’s arm. It was one of the coolest things I ever saw. The crew at Steel City Tattoos also does some pretty colorful work. Take a look at steelcity-pa.com.
Back in October, while visiting an aunt in upstate New York, I stopped in at Graceland Tattoo in Wappingers Falls, NY. I had the opportunity to sit down with owner Adam Lauricella in-between his appointments, and not only was he very cool, but he was very insightful on the marketing aspect of his business. Adam opened Graceland Tattoo in 2003 and boasts only three artists including himself. Adam runs a tight ship up at Graceland Tattoo and the shop is always busy. One thing that made Graceland Tattoo stick out for me was this new text messaging program, where text messages would go out to customers regarding cancellations and weekly specials. The idea was a brilliant marketing tool! To find out more about Graceland Tattoo log onto gracelandtattoo.com.
And finally, moving down to South Jersey put Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin Tattoo on my radar. Tattoo Tony is the personal tattoo artist for Bret Michaels of Poison and VH-1’s Rock Of Love. His quaint little tattoo shop is located in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, near the beaches of Sandy Hook! Tattoo Tony’s celebrity clientele list is remarkably long, as it seems he’s tattooed everyone under the sun. Tony’s a New Jersey native, who’s been in the business since 1984. The artwork that comes out of Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin Tattoo studio is astonishing. Tattoo Tony’s become a brother, as he also is a huge supporter of the local music scene! Check out Tattoo Tony’s Under My Skin Tattoo at undermyskintat2.com.
Well, I’m off to check out my next tattoo place, the first of many more to come in my travels in 2010, I’m sure! If you have a tattoo shop that you want to suggest to me please email me the name of the place and whom I should ask for! Also, if you were recently tattooed, email me a picture of your tattoo with the name of the shop and artist and it may show up in an upcoming issue of The Aquarian Weekly.