Inked Out: Vanguard Tattoo – Nyack, NY

Vanguard Tattoo – Nyack, NY

It’s not often that I get back up to the New York area these days, but when I do, it’s usually to visit family. Around Chinese New Year’s back in February, I had to visit family in Nyack, NY for a party. My wife and I got up there early and had some time to kill, so we passed this little tattoo shop on Main Street in Nyack and decided to go back to take a look. The shop was called Vanguard Tattoo. We only had a few minutes to kill, so our visit was a quick one.

We walked into this little shop that was kind of hidden, but my wife always seems to have an eye for these hidden places. The keyword here is “walked in” because Vanguard Tattoo is doing something that I’ve not seen done at any of the shops I’ve ever visited. They’ve dedicated one day of the week to “walk-in” clientele, which means no appointments are made on this day and they take walk-in clients only on this day. That day is Walk-in Fridays! I think this is a brilliant marketing move on their part to obtain more customers, but after seeing their artists’ work, I can understand why this shop is one of the top shops in Rockland County.

Vanguard opened its doors back in 2004, and since their opening they seemed to attract customers who are serious about their tattoos. This three-artist shop is said to specialize in technically challenging, custom designs including sleeves, back pieces and full body suits. Owner and tattoo artist J.R. Maloney, who we met briefly, grew up in nearby New City. He studied at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan, but started tattooing during a four-year stint in the Marines, and considers the art form an ancient craft with its own set of codes.

Joining J.R. at Vanguard Tattoo is veteran artist Kelly Krantz, who started tattooing back in the mid-’90s and spent time at shops in NYC like East Side Ink and Fly-Rite Tattoos. His style speaks for itself. Then there’s Ian Healy, whose bright colors and detail really set him apart from the rest of the pack.

When I asked what would make a prospective client like me come in to Vanguard for my next tattoo, the answer seemed unanimous in saying that Vanguard Tattoo is a comfortable environment that allows their artists to create full custom tattoos for their clients. As a shop, they’ve spent years working on their craft of tattooing and their artwork is evident. J.R. says, “We know the history of the art and remain steadfast in upholding its values. From a wealth of knowledge and an inexhaustible library of reference in which to create designs that are both steeped in tradition while pushing the boundaries of the future.” I think that’s enough to make me come back!

So, Vanguard started their “Walk-in Fridays” with the intention on getting the people tattooed that believed the shop only did big tattoos. J.R. said, “I love to make tattoos. I love to make people happy through the art of tattooing.” The promotion is for small projects like that weird spot that needs to be filled or that nice rose you always wanted to get or that heart for your Mom or that skull tattoo you always wanted. Vanguard urges you to pick whichever tattoo you want, but please, no beginnings of big projects. All “walk-ins” are on a first-come, first-served basis. This amazing promotion is a cash-only promotion with a charge of $160 an hour with a minimum of $100 spent. Kelly Krantz and J.R. will be the artists tattooing all day on Fridays. On Fridays only, the shop will be open from 11 am until 11 pm, and will run until further notice. I’m not going to lie, this is awesome for anyone who’s always wanted to be tattooed by J.R. or Kelly, but couldn’t get an appointment.

This was a pretty clean shop and based on the artwork that I got to take a look at, I would recommend this place to anyone in the Rockland County area. You can actually contact the artists personally on the “contact” page on Vanguard Tattoo’s website,, which is pretty cool. If you’d like to visit Vanguard in person or stop in on “Walk-in Fridays,” they are located at 230 Main Street in Nyack, NY. They are open Monday through Saturday from 1 pm until 9 pm except for Fridays. (Man, I should have become a tattoo artist! Their hours are better than doctor’s hours!) You can also call the shop if you have any questions at (845) 353-5040. I’m telling you! Take advantage of “Walk-in Fridays” while you can! Don’t say I didn’t give you a heads up!

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