The one cool thing about traveling with the band is having the chance to check out tattoo shops in other cities. A couple of months ago my band, Rahway, was asked to open a sold out performance with rising stars Greta Van Fleet at the F.M. Kirby Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA, which was amazing. Anyway, I made it up to the venue about an hour before we needed to load in, giving me some time to kill. So I walked up North Main Street and came across a tattoo shop called 570 Tattooing Co. This shop looked very cool from the outside, so I decided to walk in and take a look.
This place was much bigger than it looked outside. Nice hardwood floors in the common areas of the studio and black walls adorned with paintings from each of the 570 artists, as 570 Tattooing Co. also doubles as an art gallery, along with memorabilia and tattooing awards. There were private work spaces for each artist to draw, which each artist on staff had an opportunity to personally choose and design. I was thoroughly impressed with what I saw when I first walked in. I had very little time before I had to head back to the Kirby Center, but I was able to get a few questions in and learn what I had to about 570 Tattoo Co.
As I looked around the shop I was greeted by the shop manager, a woman named Geena, whom I later learned was Geena Russo, co-owner and wife of owner, Rich Russo. I also learned later that it was Geena who was the inspiration behind Rich opening 570 Tattoo Co. to begin with. Ron and Geena opened 570 Tattooing Co. in Wilkes-Barre back in 2005. The shop was actually not a plan for Ron at that point in his life, but then Geena, on a drunken night of partying with friends, came home and woke him up yelling, “That’s fucking it! You’re done working for someone else! I’m going to build you a tattoo shop!” Geena actually sounds like my wife. Anyway, five weeks and three days later, 570 opened its doors, and according to Ron, it was the best decision that anyone ever made for him. In Sept. 2016, Ron and Geena moved the shop next door into their current more spacious spot.
Ron started his tattooing journey in 2000 when a close friend of his had gone on a long unexpected “vacation,” Ron would inherit all of his machines. Wanting to be a tattooer since he was 13, Ron started tattooing any friend who would allow him to experiment on them. At that point, Ron was not even educated enough in the tattoo industry to know it wasn’t called a “gun.” After a few months of hacking up so many victims, Ron realized that this path of learning to tattoo was not the right path. Ron would travel 55 miles a day to a shop called Images, where he begged, pleaded, and tried to hustle his way into an apprenticeship. Owner Robert Kunkle told Ron more than a few times to get lost. Ron persevered and refused to give up as he returned every day for six months until Kunkle finally gave in. But when I tell you he started at the bottom, Ron really started at the bottom. To this day, Ron gladly credits Kunkle for where he is today. After spending years making a name for himself Ron has no plans on slowing down, as he says, “Progression is everything. I work as hard as I can every day. If I don’t, I’ll fall behind and those young boys are coming up nipping at our heels. I’m moving forward. I am being the artist I always dreamed I’d be. I couldn’t be more blessed.”
Ron is surrounded by four other extremely talented artists in Shaun Flinn, Charlie Hagenbach, Donovan White and Breandan Angley. Ron and his crew each have their own specialties ranging from portraits, to new school, to realism, to even custom horror designs. When I asked Geena about the shop’s walk-in policy, she told me that walk-ins are always welcome, but if they are booked, someone will consult the prospective client about their tattoo to identify the right artist, and when they can, get the prospective client in to start their tattoo. Then, I asked how one goes about booking an appointment, and Geena told me that the easiest way to make an appointment is to simply contact the artists directly. The artists also require a deposit to book an appointment with them. For instance, Ron has a minimum of four hours per session and charges $150 per hour for first appointments, but he requires a deposit for each appointment of $150, which will be taken off the total. Shaun, on the other hand, charges between $100 to $150 per hour depending on the piece and placement, but he requires a $100 deposit for any appointment and has a minimum of three hours per piece. So basically, it depends on the artist, and if you’d like to book an appointment you need to contact the artist you’d like to work with.
When I asked about the age restrictions for 570 Tattooing Co, Geena told me that all customers must be 18 years old with a passport or state ID to be tattooed, which seems to be the standard age with any shop that I’ve visited. This shop was so clean that it even still had that “new shop” smell. It was time for me to head back to the Kirby Center for load in, but I have to say that after taking a look at this shop, chatting with Geena for a little bit and looking over their portfolios, this place was a gem hidden in the heart of Wilkes-Barre.
570 Tattooing Co is open Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. until 10 p.m. and on Sundays by appointment only, and is located at 57 North Main Street in Wilkes-Barre, right down the street from the Kirby Center. So if you’re early for a show at the Kirby, take a walk down Main Street and check out 570 Tattooing Co. For more info on the shop, you can call (570) 825-7270 or check out their website, Ron570.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.