Tattooing as an Artform, and the Stigma That Is Still Attached: Legitimate Business, or still just for Sailors and Whores?

The Bossman at work-- our business The Hand of Fate Tattoo in Ithaca, NY.

The Bossman at work– our business The Hand of Fate Tattoo in Ithaca, NY.

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!

Canada, Coast to Coast, and back to Upstate NY with Lefty & Boogstar

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The journey from Ithaca to Vancouver started at Good Point Tattoo in Oakville, as Canada trips often do. The menfolk took off from Toronto, and landed safely in Vancouver for a magical week of tattoos, artwork, nature, and wild energy. Plus, lots and lots of smoked salmon, seafood, and a ferry ride to Vancouver Island. (Follow the link for a flipagram Cory created Vancouver trip!). The reason the artists were all there was for the Vancouver Tattoo and Culture Show, and Eddie and Boog had a Lettering seminar to teach. The weekend featured talented artists in a beautiful setting, sure to recharge and energize.

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My husband was really hard pressed to leave BC- he truly loves the area, and every trip he threatens to stay until forced to leave. He had other obligations coming up, and the Roc City Tattoo Expo forced him back on the plane home. He brought Boog with him for a quick stop in Ithaca before leaving in the morning for Rochester, so I had the chance to cook for a couple of world travelers. What did I feed them? Husband caught steelhead trout with browned butter, fiddleheads, wild rice, and berry shortcake finale. I served a few bottles of my favorite Rieslings from Silver Thread Vineyard and Forge Cellars, and was lucky enough to get a gift of a Riesling Ice Wine–thanks Jay!!!

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After a good night’s sleep, we were off to Rochester for the Roc City Tattoo Expo 2014. I love conventions that are close enough to commute to! The weekend was fantastic as always, and I scored a pair of beautiful new Kali blood wood earrings that I’m over the moon for from Dorje Adornments. Seriously, feel like a rockstar in these….

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The show was crazy busy, and our booth was a fun time the entire weekend. The artists were really enjoying the vibes…

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Boog was gracious enough to take Lefty and I out to dinner in Rochester on Saturday night. We were recommended to try 2vine, a Rochester staple in farm to table dining. It was great to see the list of local farms sourced, including Lively Run Dairy. Having said that, I was VERY disappointed in the wine list, which had NO local wines whatsoever except for a Dr. Frank Brut (really?!? ). I settled on a sparkling cocktail of brut and Pom juice. As for our meal, we shared a selection of entrees; duck, lamb, mussels, salmon, crab cakes, and a few sides, one that came out of the kitchen in awkward timing (risotto was lovely, but was served as the dinner was almost over). All of the food was flavorful, and the mussels and salmon were favorites. Granted, kitchen issues were minor after 10pm on Saturday night, and things were winding down. It was a quiet evening that we all needed and enjoyed. Thank you Roc City, we’ll see you again next year!

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