I didn’t know what to expect from a Tattoo Party but I was game. It was a Tuesday night (insert social calendar joke here) back on August 18th. I roped my wife, Ronna, to be the party photographer so I could balance a plate of hors d’oeuvres with my drink and my reporter’s notebook. What a party! There were tons of people, parent’s brought kids, cat fish, BBQ chicken wings, paleo cupcakes and Blood Orange Italian Soda were among the vittles, plus there were tattoos and a guy wearing a Judas Priest T-shirt. It was a great way to welcome a new business into the neighborhood or was the new business welcoming us?
The party was held in celebration of the grand opening of Blue Ox Tattoo. We were excited to have a new business in Kenton. In that location there had been a home brew store and a hair salon so a Tattoo Parlor was a welcome addition. I realize nobody calls these places Parlors anymore, unless maybe you’re a sailor or old fashioned like me. I loved the idea of visiting and partying inside the updated surroundings in what feels like a historic space. There where framed tattoo drawings on the walls, and tchotchkes for inspiration in the various artist stations. If a unicorn isn’t the best tattoo it can at least serve to inspire a better design.
Before the party crowd became wall to wall.
For me tattoos were strongly discouraged in my youth. Let’s just say my parents never spoke highly of them. I didn’t get swept up in the 90’s tribal craze, in part because I spent time in the post office and whenever I was in line I would end up studying the FBI’s Most Wanted Posters. The one constant identifier always seemed to be tattoos. I figured not having a tattoo would be one less detail that would be included about me if I ever ended up on the FBI’s list.
Mikal Gilmore, one of the owners of Blue Ox Tattoo, started getting tattooed at 18 and was attracted to the art and rebellious nature of tattooing despite it becoming more mainstream. Wanting more visible tattoos meant not fitting into the corporate world making a career in the tattoo business a necessary option. Living in the Kenton area and seeing there were no local tattoo businesses, despite tattoo shop saturation in the city, Gilmore was thrilled to be the one to offer it and appreciated the community support received for the effort.
Local business owners & tattoo enthusiasts gathered.
Before going to the party I considered what tattoo I would get, if I ever got one. There was the face of a pit bull named Harlow that I dog sat. A sweetheart of a dog, but I thought a pit bull tattoo, especially the face, would make me a bad ass. I also considered Tom Cruise. I wanted one of those Wall Street Journal dot portraits. Really, like a current Tom Cruise, a portrait of his face, not Risky Business Tom Cruise like we were asked about. God knows I would not have Tom Cruise dancing in his underwear on my bicep. We’re really talking the charismatic Cruise, but no one can see past his religious interests these days.
Mikal would “get a lot more information” about my choice of tattoos mentioning not being “judge and jury of someone’s tattoo or art choice.” In trying to hold on to tattooing’s rebellious nature and keeping distance from the corporate world, Gilmore mentioned declining to create a tattoo of a logo on someone. Our tattoo party ended with me spotting a thigh tattoo being shown off while also noticing I’d spilled hummus on my reporter’s notebook. In all, it had been a great way to visit a local business, talk to a few folks and get insight into tattoo philosophy.
The author in the middle of the tattoo party.
(Photos by Ronna Craig)