Text by: Kimmy Baraoidan
Photos by: Chris Quintana and Kimmy Baraoidan
An LED sign screams the word “Tattoo” from a window on the second floor of a small building next to a church. The building’s ground floor houses a small eatery full of employees from the mall across during lunchtime. The smell of freshly baked bread and roasted chicken would greet passersby, enticing them to buy even if they are not hungry. Between the bakery and the store that sells roasted chicken is the portal that leads to a world where rules, norms, the status quo are challenged, defied. The portal opens late afternoon. The wooden door bears the sign “Tattoo” in bold, black script letters. Photos of anonymous inked customers are displayed, and below them are names of the artists responsible for putting artwork on these living, breathing canvases.
The church bells toll, signaling the start of the mass. A group of guys, not exactly your boy-next-door type, hang out by the alleyway, brandishing their colorful, inked arms, most of the time clad in mesh caps, band shirts, loose shorts, and sneakers, having a quick chat and a smoke – a scene reminiscent of a gangster movie.
Upon entering the tattoo shop, one would expect to see male tattoo artists drilling artworks into skin and male customers willingly receiving the pain. However, in this shop, a woman by the name of Marni will greet you and ask you what design you would like to have tattooed on your skin. It’s not every day you see a female tattoo artist and tattoo shop owner.