Having to celebrate Chinese New Year’s in Chinatown this year with my family, I had the opportunity to walk through the streets of downtown Manhattan when I went from the parking garage to the restaurant. What I didn’t expect to find on my way through Broadway was a second floor tattoo shop called Sacred Tattoo. Now, I’ve been down this street a gazillion times and never knew that there was a tattoo shop up there. I was already late for dinner, so what harm was there in one more stop?
I walked into what seemed to be a very clean and spacious shop, owned by a guy named Wes Wood. Wes opened Sacred Tattoo back in 1990 and has housed some of New York’s most gifted artists for over 20 years. Wes has been respected by his peers as a legitimate contributor to the history of NYC tattooing. Sacred Tattoo is also based on Wes’s philosophy of “Tomorrow’s Trends Today.”
This 3,000-plus square foot studio, whose contemporary décor makes it look more like a New York City apartment than a tattoo parlor, boasts a huge flat screen TV in the waiting room surrounded by a series of red leather love seats and a black table, where the artists’ portfolios are placed like coffee table art books for potential clients to look through. What really sets Sacred Tattoo apart from other studios is that, recently when they renovated the shop, they added a 9,000 square foot art gallery with a built in DJ booth for the shop to host art shows once a month.
Sacred Tattoo houses seven artists from a variety of backgrounds and two body piercers. As far as artists go, there’s Japanese traditional artist Matt Adams, photorealism specialist Bili Vegas, Nick Wilcox, who will tattoo pretty much anything, then there’s Shey, who apparently has moved out of state but comes back every few months to tattoo. There’s also the very popular Lalo Yunda, who is booked through August, there’s Megan Massacre, who will be appearing on the reality show New York Ink, and newcomer John Mesa. Handling all of the body piercing is Brian Decker and Star Belew.
Before I left for dinner, I got a quick rundown on the rules at Sacred Tattoo from the shop manager, Kevin Wilson. Kevin told me that Sacred Tattoo is mainly a custom shop, and urges clients to bring in whatever they have in mind as a reference to help the artist with what the client is looking to do. Kevin also told me that many times a client will bring in a picture of a tattoo that’s already been done, so their artists usually suggest changing the image so that the tattoo is an original one.
When I asked about the age limit to get tattooed at Sacred Tattoo, I was told, once again, that in the state of New York, you must be at least 18 years of age with a valid government issued ID. School ID cards will not be accepted! If you’re under the age of 18, you can forget about getting tattooed at this shop because they won’t tattoo you. Even if your parents say it’s okay!
When it came time to talk about prices, Kevin was very quick to tell me that the shop minimum is normally around $80, but their hourly rate for custom tattoo work can go anywhere between $150 to $175 per hour, depending on the artist and the size of the piece getting tattooed. The artist might even be able to give a flat price on a tattoo as well. Walk-ins are always welcome as long as an artist is available, but to make an appointment, a non-refundable and non-transferable deposit is required. The deposit covers your drawing, secures your appointment and comes off the final price of your tattoo. Kevin said that deposits are usually $50 or $100. As for piercing, the piercing rule is 16 years of age with parental consent, both parent and minor must have a state issued ID to get pierced. If you’re 18 years of age, a parent doesn’t need to be present.
All right, time to head out for my Chinese New Year’s dinner in Chinatown. If you’d like to check out Sacred Tattoo, they’re located at 424 Broadway on the second floor between Canal Street and Howard Street, and best of all they’re open seven days a week from 12 p.m. till 8 p.m. If you want to see their work online, you can log onto sacredtattoo.com or call (212) 226 4286 with any questions or to make an appointment.
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 email@example.com.