We’ve all seen them…dusty, dirty, cluttered, crowded and sometimes downright skeevy…tattoo shops. I once accompanied a group of friends to a tattoo parlour in New York City that was open 24 hours a day, sold bongs at the front, had clearly not been swept in months and was so crowded that you could reach out and touch the person getting tattooed next to you. Not the kind of place I would prefer, or recommend, getting ink done.
Perhaps I am about to sound like a tattoo snob, but so be it. If you’re going to have something permanently stamped onto you, more thought should go into it than, “Hmm…I think I might like to get a tattoo today. This place is open, let’s do it.” To me, tattoos should have meaning and should be well thought out. They are pieces of art.
I am not saying that I don’t have any “dumb” tattoos – when I turned 18 I ran to a tattoo shop to get a heart and a star inked onto my skin in a place that is, thankfully, not usually visible. I say thankfully, but I don’t regret them – they are 18 year old Natasha, with me forever. And that is fine with me.
However, for the future, I will stick with the method that I employed on the last tattoo I got, almost 10 years after my first two. I wrote a poem, commissioned an illustrator to draw it, then, after MANY consultations with my friend, Lea Smith, who has been tattooing for years, decided to have it done. Lea is now working at Tattoo Archive, but at the time was tattooing at Trinity Tattoo in Virginia Beach, VA. Trinity Tattoo was everything I believe a tattoo shop should be – an immaculate art space. It was clear that the people who worked there cared for the shop. Any artist not working on skin was drawing on paper. Practicing. Preparing. There was real art hanging on the walls. Tattooists went in and out of each other’s rooms to see what everyone else was working on, perhaps learn something new. It was amazing and it is what I will always look for in a tattoo shop in the future.
Which brings me to a little gem that I recently stumbled upon in Melbourne’s CBD. Eternal Addiction, led by tattoo artist Matthew Kozik, is definitely a spot that I would recommend checking out if you’re thinking about getting work done. For one thing, it is clean – clean, clean, clean! The shop is not cluttered and there are none of those silly racks of posters with examples of barbed wire and dragons on the walls. Instead, hanging on the walls are examples of Matthew’s work, along with art done by the other artists who work there – Smitho, Abby Drielsma, Blake Macpherson and Eugene Pirie.
Eternal Addiction’s shop front.
Inside Eternal Addiction. The jeans are from the shop’s early days when it began as a clothing store/tattoo shop.
While speaking with Kozik about his shop, he told me a story that is all too familiar to me and, likely, anyone else in the beauty industry. As a high school student, his career counselor asked him to write down his top five career choices. Number one on the list was “tattoo artist.” The career counselor crossed it out. Number two on the list was architecture, so that’s how he ended up studying architecture and design in university. (I can not tell you how many of my cosmetology students told me the same story…)
When he was about 20, Kozik started getting heavily tattooed and meeting others who were heavily tattooed as well. Eventually, he was offered an apprenticeship and thus began his career as a tattooist and his path towards owning a shop.
Kozik (left): “Anything you have a passion for, you’re going to do well in…when you enjoy what you do, you spend even your spare time doing it because you WANT to build your portfolio, you WANT to build your career, you WANT to grow as an artist…”
Passion – another thing to look for in a tattoo artist. Nobody wants to get tattooed by someone who doesn’t care or has burned out. Unless, of course, you’re just getting some barbed wire around your arm, then maybe it doesn’t matter. (Wow, I really do sound like a snot!)
The other things that I appreciated hearing from Kozik were that, at Eternal Addiction, the artists do extensive consultations with their clients and that they do NOT reproduce other people’s tattoos. “We do not replicate, no reputable artist would…it’s about respect for other artists and the other people who wear tattoos.” He mentions that I would likely be upset if, after commissioning an illustrator and paying my tattoo artist to ink my own, very personal art onto my body, I saw someone else walking around with a duplicate. Yes sir, you are correct.
They do not even replicate their own drawings onto multiple people. Kozik pointed out a few pieces of his own art that he has tattooed onto clients and explained that he would never put them onto someone else’s body because they have already been used.
So, any Melbournians out there looking to get some custom ink done in a clean, professional environment, I can right here and now recommend that you check out Eternal Addiction. It is an outstanding example of what a tattoo shop should be. And you can rest assured that nobody else will be seen walking around with a duplicate of your skin art.
Eternal Addiction on facebook.