Last September, I ran into one of my music brothers, John Kosco, of the band Saint Caine, at Mario Barth’s Inked Out Tattoo Convention in Secaucus, NJ. John and Saint Caine performed an acoustic set for the Convention the night before I ran into him and then John spent the rest of the weekend tattooing. As I was talking to John, it dawned on me that I never stopped down at the new shop he was tattooing out of, Sacred Souls Ink Tattoo Studio in Denville, NJ. I told him that I promised to visit his new digs at the start of the New Year. Well, the New Year is here and it was time to take the ride to Denville.
I drove up Route 46 West where the shop was located and pulled into the side of the shop where there was ample parking. As I walked in, I saw John at the reception desk waiting for me. The shop looked immaculate! The minute I walked in, it felt so clean that you would’ve thought they just opened the shop, even though the shop was opened back in 2012. The studio had this really open feel. Even the tattooing stations had open ceilings. The hardwood floors still looked brand new. As you walk in, the large reception desk on the right is very welcoming with a nice comfy couch in front of it setting the stage for the waiting area. Pass the left of the counter, the brown wall on the left is adorned with artwork by local artists as well as the shop’s artist, owner Patrick “Gump” Henderson, whose station was the first on the right side of the brown wall, John Kosco, whose station was the third one on the right, and Cole Genovese, whose station was at the end on the right. At the time of my visit, Gump and Cole were the ones hard at work. Kosco had just finished up his appointment, so he was the one who had the time to talk to me about Sacred Souls Ink.
So, I asked him, “Why Denville?” He told me that it just happened to be the town that Patrick, aka Gump, picked, it was his dream to own a shop, and they love the town they’re in. The food there is amazing. John says that he would’ve preferred the shop to be on Main Street, where most of the businesses in town are located, but they’re on a highway, where they can be most visible. I asked John about the competition in the area and he said there were a couple shops in the area, but it’s not really about the competition more than it is about building a relationship with the clients. Most of their clients are handshake, business cards and clients who are going to give you their uncles, their boss, or their partners. Basically, they don’t use old school advertising tactics to gain business. John says social media has played a major role in building the shop’s client list. In fact, he says he’s on all of the social media sites out there.
Now, knowing John’s background as a singer for a rock band and with a family name synonymous with Harley Davidson in North Jersey, I asked him why he chose to tattoo as opposed to getting into the family business. He told me he wanted to transcend to a job that was enjoyable and rewarding because he’s always been an artist, and being around the artists he’s been around all these years, he says, “Why not? I enjoy it. And besides, there are like 14 other Koscos who are in the family business!” John went on to say that as an artist, he enjoys waking up every day happy with no stress, and the rewarding factor is seeing people walk out of the shop with a smile and his artwork on them.
Sacred Souls Ink is mainly a custom shop, though they will do the occasional flash, but John says that they try to steer their clients to the custom stuff because who wants to wear something that’s already been done before? He says Gump specializes in Biomechanical tattooing and is second to no one at it. When John and I talked about Sacred Souls’ appointment policy, he told me that walk-ins are always welcome. If availability permits, they could take a client right there on the spot. If it takes a few hours to draw the client’s piece, they’ll just have them make an appointment. When I asked how much of a deposit a client has to put down, John told me a $100 deposit is required, but it goes toward the final payment of the tattoo. When I asked if the deposit was non-refundable, he told me that every situation is different. He says that cancellations happen and there’s nothing you can do about it. They just reschedule.
John says that every machine is autoclave sterilized nightly. All needles are single-use and the shop abides by any laws they need to abide by, including the laws against tattooing minors. Like I said earlier, this shop is as clean as they come, and if that’s what you look for in a tattoo shop, this place has it. If you’re in the Denville area or driving through Denville and suddenly want some ink, visit Gump, John and Cole at Sacred Souls Ink Tattoo Studio located at 318 U.S. 46 in Denville. They’re open Monday through Friday 1 p.m. till 9 p.m., Saturday from 12 p.m. until 9 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. For more information on the shop, visit them on the web at sacredsoulsink.com or “Like” them on Facebook at facebook.com/SacredSoulsTattoo. You can also call them at (973) 453-6550. By the way, Sacred Souls Ink is also looking to hire a fourth artist. They are looking for someone professional with at least three years shop experience and a strong portfolio. If this is you, contact the shop. You can also catch John Kosco at the next Inked Out Tattoo Convention in September. The last one was his first convention and like all tattoos, he’s addicted now.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.