Inked Out: Powerline Tattoo—Cranston, RI

If you read this column every month, you realize that I love to travel. Yes, I can check out tattoo shops in Jersey, which I do, but wouldn’t you like to know about cool tattoo artists and shops around the country? A couple of weeks ago, my band, Rahway, was booked in Cranston, Rhode Island, to perform a benefit to fight children’s cancer. During some downtime, I took a ride through town with my wife, and we came across this amazing tattoo shop on Reservoir Avenue called Powerline Tattoo. Needless to say, we had to check it out!

We walked into a white building that had a black leather futon on the left. There was a reception desk in front of us with a bright yellow accent wall behind it. To the right, was a wall adorned with framed press clippings about the shop. Behind the reception desk and to the right is where the magic happens. That’s where the private tattooing rooms were stationed. We were greeted by a woman named Krystal, who seemed willing to answer any question we threw at her.

Well, it turned out, Powerline Tattoo was opened back in January 2011 by husband and wife duo, Evan (also an artist) and Kara Olin. Evan is a graduate of the nearby Rhode Island School of Design in Providence. So, he’s kept it local when opening his own business. Evan has also won many awards for his work through the years and strives for customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, owner Evan Olin was busy with a client when we stopped in.

When I asked Krystal why I would choose Powerline Tattoo over any other shop in this area of Rhode Island, she told me that as a shop, their mission is to deliver the best possible experience to each and every one of the clients they encounter. She continued that the customer experience begins the moment they set foot into the studio, which was designed with the utmost attention to style, comfort, and safety by the Olins. The vibe of the shop is set by the original art, which can be seen hanging in the shop’s gallery. Krystal said that prospective clientele are always welcome to come in and browse through the shop’s selection of body jewelry, apparel, and art prints for sale, or have a seat on one of the futons and flip through the portfolios of the talented artists at the shop including Evan, the owner, Mike Ledoux, a staple to the Rhode Island tattoo scene, Jay Blackburn, Mike Boissoneault, Larry DiGiusto, and Mike Romasco.

Krystal went on to say that all of the artists at Powerline will sit down with their clients and go over their ideas, whether a design is already picked out or not, but another option would be to utilize the skills of their artists to design a one-of-a-kind work of art. Powerline believes that tattoos are an exciting form of personal expression and as a result each tattoo should be as unique as the customer. Krystal says that you won’t find any pre-drawn tattoos (or flash art) ready to be “picked and sticked” hanging on their walls. She said that as a shop, they thrive on creativity and pride themselves in being able to handle whatever tattoo challenge a customer can throw their way.

I asked Krystal if they took walk-ins or were appointments needed. She told me that they were a custom shop, so they mainly worked by appointment only. She said that walk-ins were welcome, but only if an artist happens to have free time. She urges prospective clients to call or email the shop if you are interested in a walk-in appointment, so that they can let the customer know if there is time available. To make an appointment, a client will want to schedule a consultation appointment. Krystal says it’s always best to come by the shop to discuss the tattoo the client might have in mind with the artist. If a client is unsure which artist would be best for their tattoo, this will give the shop time to recommend an artist. Then a deposit must be paid to schedule an appointment. The deposit amount will come off the final price of the tattoo.

When it comes to pricing, Krystal told me that if the tattoo takes an hour or more, they charge by the hour, and the artist will tell the client at the time of the consultation what the hourly rate would be. If the tattoo takes less than an hour, it’s priced by the piece, and the shop minimum is $80.

I asked Krystal what Powerline’s policy was as far as cleanliness, and she told me that their artists sterilize their equipment after each use and that they use a steam pressurized autoclave when disinfecting their equipment. Liquid cleaners are used only to clean debris from equipment, preparing them for sterilization. They don’t re-use any equipment that could come in contact with bodily fluids.

Powerline used to do body piercings as well, but they no longer offer piercings. Before we headed back to the hotel to get ready for my show, I asked Krystal about the age policy at Powerline. She told me that according to Rhode Island state law, clients had to be at least 18 years of age, with a valid photo ID like a driver’s license, state ID, or a passport. She said that that they were pretty strict with this policy, as they make photocopies of the ID for health department records.

Powerline Tattoo is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 pm till 8 pm, on Sunday from 12 pm till 6 pm, and closed on Mondays. If you’re in the Cranston, RI area, stop in at Powerline Tattoo and check it out! They’re located at 708 Reservoir Avenue. If you have any questions about the shop, you can all them at (401) 369-7771, where you might even talk to Krystal, or you can check them out online at

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