Breaking down stereotypes one tat at a timePublished 10:23am Tuesday, January 26, 2010
By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star
Tim Shaw is a family man.
Photos of his young children fill the wall of his office – if you want to call it that.
Shaw works as an artist at Paparazzi Tattoos, which opened in late October on South 11th Street in Niles, and he wants it to be a place where he and his clients can bring their families.
“There are a lot of stereotypes about tattoo parlors,” Shaw said. “We still get people who look at us as the stereotypical tat artist, scary people, not role models, because we have tattoos.”
But the artists at Paparazzi are trying to break down the stigma against tattoos.
“We want it to be more of a family atmosphere,” Brett Thompson, another of the artists, said, pointing out the Xbox 360 in the corner of the lobby where children can play video games. The store also has a dartboard in the back where artists and clients have heated games.
The business, which is owned by Pedro Rodriguez, even had a holiday fundraiser this year, dubbed “Toys for Tats,” where customers would bring in new toys and warm clothing for local charities in exchange for $25 off their tattoo.
But the place isn’t exactly Chuck E. Cheese either. Insane Clown Posse and heavy metal is the music of choice, and at a tattoo place it’s hard to escape at least the occasional profanity.
Shaw just wants it to be a place where “everyone can feel welcome.”
So far it seems like mission accomplished. Despite the down economy, the new business is thriving, Shaw said.
Each client who gets tattooed or pierced signs one of the walls in the shop. The lobby is almost completely full of signatures and notes from satisfied customers.
And the clients aren’t the stereotypical burly biker or rock musician either.
“We’ve got quite a variety of clientele,” Shaw said. “As far as most people in general, they are loosening up very much to the idea of tattoos, and more and more people are getting them. We’ve got doctors and lawyers and people like that who are coming in and getting tattooed on a regular basis. It’s people you would never even believe that are getting tattooed.”
Thompson said he had a lady in her 70s come in the other day wanting a Notre Dame tattoo, and Shaw has seen a group of six police officers all request the same tattoo.
A 2008 poll by Harris Interactive revealed 32 percent of adults 25-29 are inked.
“I would agree with that stat,” Shaw said. “But I would broaden it to 19 to 36.”
Damian Sukich of Niles was in the shop Monday to get a Spitfire skateboarding symbol tattoo in honor of one of his skateboarding buddies who recently passed away.
“Everyone has a story behind their tattoo,” Sukich said. “I’ve seen Tim (Shaw) spend four hours with a client talking about the story behind a tattoo.”
Shaw says it’s necessary for him to know his client before drawing up the tattoo.
“I want to find out what it means to you,” he said. “If I am going to do an R.I.P. piece, I want it so you get a tear in your eye when it’s finished.”