I love New York City in the spring! Cafés put their tables and chairs outside for outdoor dining, you see more skin on the girls than clothing, and there are people everywhere! So, when I played my first gig in Manhattan for 2012, you knew that my girlfriend and I were taking advantage of our NYC excursion. As we walked down Seventh Street on the Lower East Side in the East Village, I came across a great little tattoo shop called North Star Tattoo. I love when I come across some great tattoo shops when I least expect it because I never have any recording devices with me or a camera to record anything. Besides, we were just on a stroll before my gig!

Anyway, as luck would have it, North Star Tattoo is owned by a pretty popular name in the tattoo industry. Its owner was none other than Rodrigo Melo, who happened to be tattooing when we walked in. Rodrigo took a break from tattooing for a few minutes to talk to us. I never told him that I wrote the Inked Out column because I wanted him to treat me like a customer, so I just asked him customer-type of questions, and I actually got enough info out of him to feature his shop in this month’s column.

If you weren’t paying attention to this quaint little tattoo shop, you’d walk right by it! Luckily for Rodrigo, his reputation speaks for itself, and his clientele know exactly where his shop is. Rodrigo had been tattooing since 1997, but opened North Star back in 2008. He specializes in Japanese but loves dabbling in other styles. As for his staff, Rodrigo said that he only surrounds himself with the best three artists in the business. There’s Daniel Cotté, who also has been tattooing since 1997, but he also studied fine arts at the University Of Puerto Rico and has a degree in printmaking and drawing. Daniel specializes in traditional Americana, Japanese, and custom lettering. He’s worked at numerous studios before finding a home at North Star. Then there’s Becca Roach, who got her art degree from Pratt Institute back in 2004 for illustration and photography, but began her tattoo apprenticeship right after graduation. Becca joined North Star in 2008 and is a regularly exhibited artist in Brooklyn and Manhattan. And finally, the newest member to join North Star Tattoo is Rodrigo’s apprentice and wife, Anna Melo.

About the shop, it’s immaculately clean! Rodrigo told me that walk-ins are always welcome, but it’s always best to give the shop a call ahead of time to check for artist’s availability. He also told me that there was a shop minimum of $100. Rodrigo did say that appointments are suggested, but before an appointment is made, he also suggests that a prospective client call or come in and see the artist they want tattooing them for a free consultation. It’s always best when all parties are on the same page. To make an appointment, a customer has to come into the shop in person and leave a cash deposit. No appointments can be made over though phone or online. However, exceptions are made for out of town clients only by using PayPal for the deposit.

When I asked Rodrigo about some other rules of his shop, he told me that according to New York state law, you must be 18 years of age or older with a valid state ID, which is also required when making an appointment. No one will be tattooed without a valid picture ID showing the person’s date of birth. Rodrigo told me that he has a policy about children in his shop. They’re not allowed! Under New York state law, the shop is not allowed to have anyone under 18 in there. Some other rules in the shop include no cell phone pictures or video recording of any sort, no pets allowed in any part of the shop, and obviously no food or alcohol. Here’s a weird rule that I’ve never heard a tattoo shop ever ask for: take a shower before your tattoo procedure! He says that body odor is a distraction to him and his artists, so he asks clients to be considerate and pay special attention to areas like armpits and feet, if those are areas being tattooed.

Rodrigo told me that all of his artists are licensed and certified with the Board Of Health. They use single-use disposable needles during every procedure, and they autoclave sterilize all of their machines. All of the work done at North Star Tattoo is guaranteed with the expectation that the customers follow the aftercare instructions provided to them after they are tattooed. He also said that if there is ever a need for a touch up, the shop will provide that service free of charge providing they feel it’s necessary.

You have to check out North Star Tattoo! This is a great shop! They’re open Tuesdays through Sundays from 12 p.m. until 8 p.m. and they’re located at 74 East Seventh Street between First and Second Avenue in NYC. If you’d like to call for more info, call them at (212) 228-6724, or visit them online at northstartattoo.com.

Well, 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 tim@theaquarian.com.

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