My husband Edward Molina is an artist. His chosen medium is often skin, but he is more than incredible on canvas, walls, and office envelopes. He is the ultimate in duality; a talented, committed artist, and a business owner that is also first and foremost a tattooer. I was raised by a woman that absolutely hated tattoos, as well as the craft. Draw on paper, please, just not on my daughter. Her mentality never changed, even though she loved my husband dearly. I understood her position, but I never let it change my stance, and eventual tattoo wife-dom. I’m relatively heavily tattooed at this point, and I’ve definitely noticed some changes in the way people tend to react to me at times. Love it or hate it, I’m a heavily tattooed woman, that is absolutely invested in being a collector of custom artwork created just for me.
Today, I was scrolling online and an article in the Democrat & Chronicle Rochester caught my attention. Have a read if you’d like, that is what started my line of thought that led to this post. Are tattoo studios ‘artists’ studios’? Pittsford says NO. Once I clicked on the link, I realized these are good friends of ours! Joseph ‘Jet’ DiProjetto is the owner of Love Hate Tattoo in Rochester, a VERY well established shop, AND the promoter for the Roc City Tattoo Expo, probably the best convention in upstate NY to date. It is the only convention that we attend in upstate NY, because it is by invitation only, and the artist roster is always spectacular talent from around the world. Now, what happens when this very respected businessman tries to open a satellite studio in the burbs for his clients? According to the article:
“The sticking point for the Planning and Zoning Board of Appeals was whether the men would work out of an “artists’ studio.”
Defining their workplace was crucial because village zoning regulations specify that artists doing business in the section of Pittsford where these men wanted to set up shop must work out of an “artists’ studio.”
After much back and forth, the board voted 4-to-1 to uphold a decision of the village building inspector that the workplace of Joseph DiProjetto and Ben Wight wouldn’t meet code.
You see, DiProjetto and Wight are tattoo artists and they’re covered in ink.”
Until pretty recently, my tattoos were easy to keep covered. Once I jumped to the ‘dark side’, the reactions I get in the professional forum vary, from interest to disdain, and most folks are happy to tell me what they think without prompting. I understand this is an article that covers a zoning disagreement, but it’s so much more from a tattoo shop owners’ standpoint. I worked in the über corporate Walt Disney World Orlando, and then for EIS Kodak as a location manager in New York City. While most corporations still call for employees to cover their artwork, there is a movement towards a less strict body art policy. When I was the photo manager at Top of the Rock (yes, the big NYC observation deck was one of our multiple million dollar accounts, and yes, a tattoo collector was running the place), I was also dating my now husband. I saw how New York City tattoo shops operated. Trust me, a tattoo shop IS A BUSINESS. Again, quoting from the D&C article-
“Village zoning regulations permit upward of 30 types of businesses there, from jewelers and opticians to supermarkets and drug stores, as well as “other retail businesses and service uses of similar character.”
Ok, there it is–of a ‘similar character’ to already existing businesses. I help run a business that bought us a house, pays for our existence, and keeps kibble in bowls. Compared to my TOTR gig, it’s definitely more of a relaxed environment day to day. In leu of that, I deal with much of the same day to day business goings on that I used to. Advertising, marketing, budgets, customer service, banking–all of this goes into daily operations. It’s a business, it’s an artist studio, and it’s a WAY OF LIFE, not just a job.
What it comes down to? The narrow minded, anti tattoo folks trying to keep the deviants out of their awesome little hamlet. No worries, we go where we are appreciated. Something similar happened recently in our little College Town area as well, so the hill isn’t any better in our seemingly liberal little town–make no mistake. Some individuals still hold true that tattoos are for sailors, whores, and pirates. I kind of dig that, actually. As Jet himself put it-
“It comes down to Pittsford not wanting tattooed people in their town doing business,” said DiProjetto. “It’s okay if a tattooed person is pumping your gas, but a tattooed person opening a business in Mayberry won’t fly.”
What do you think? I’d love to hear your responses below!