Medway tattoo & piercing centre - A history
Medway tattoo & piercing centre - A history
Opening the studio in May ’2000 was a huge landmark for us, but it was also just the visible tip of an iceberg of work, trials, tribulations, and funny stories!
I had been searching Medway Towns for suitable premises for months. My day job was as a Welding Supervisor, with about 20 guys working under me. So after work I would trudge the streets, peering in empty shop windows, scribbling estate agents numbers, worrying about the pro’s and con’s of various premises, totally knackered. Then the next day at work I would use my office phone to call up estate agents to get info on the places I had looked at the night before.
I put in hundreds of hours chasing dead ends, like the local shop owner who at a very late stage of contract negotiations decided he didn’t want a Tattoo Studio in his property as it might lower the tone of the other property he owned next door! Even though there was the local ‘Private Shop’ next door to that!
I eventually got the keys to view the property we have now, I thought was just right; huge windows, lots of natural light, corner position, cellar full of water etc. There just remained 4 months of haggling over the conditions of the lease. I think it was around this time we found it was the corner of the local ‘red light district’, and although the girls frequently used our doorway for negotiations after we were shut, at least it wasn’t for the actual deed itself!
While this was going on I was also interviewing for staff, Artists and Piercers. Luckily I found some artists. I had put up wanted ads at Dunstable expo, and this produced a couple of artists. We next found Sue (now my sister-in-law) as our piercer, she had been working at a local studio, and had the right mix of enthusiasm and experience. So we had the start of a team. Everything moved up a gear.
We had decided from the very beginning that the studio was going to be the best, or at least the best we could make it. We wanted it to be all the things that we personally had wanted to see in a studio; Hygienic, modern, bright, clean, colourful, and big. Separate piercing room, multiple artists work stations, privacy, tiled everything.
So we started renovating and repairing the big open space of the shop into the studio we wanted. That’s when the work really started!
We had to renew and repair or rebuild just about everything. For example, before we could tile the floor, we had to spend 2 weeks removing the thousands of nails that had been holding the hardboard, lino and carpet layers. And then repair the unsafe parts, like the trapdoor we found into the cellar. Then the real fun; ceramic tiling onto wooden floorboards! Of course we had never done it before! But couldn’t afford to pay someone else.
So we did it. At night. With drunks and assorted loonies gawping through the windows and speedfreaks banging on the door at 3am. It was like working in a huge backlit fishbowl. But often so funny we would be lying on the floor in pain from aching backs and knees, howling with laughter at the antics of the passers by! It was like some bizarre documentary.
We opened in May 2000, to a small but interesting queue, and have never looked back. When we started, the £60 per hour we decided on as ‘the rate’ was quite expensive, and we got a lot of “sharp inhalation of breath” followed by “how much?”, but now 14 years on, still charging the similar rates, our customers rarely complain about the cost. They now know we have the highest standards of health and hygiene, the best artists, the biggest collection of Flash, and the best reputation in the area. Our motto is: QUALITY AND HYGIENE GUARANTEED.
As I write this, the Skin Deep ‘100 Favourite Artists’ magazine has just arrived on my desk. I was extremely pleased to see we had two artists in it from Medway Tattoo & Piercing Centre as winners. I would like to say a big ‘Well Done Chaps, I am proud of you both’.
Incidentaly, I am looking for a suitable apprentice. Call me if you are interested.
The first thing I learnt about business was; ‘don’t compete on price, compete on quality’, and I have always applied that to all my business ventures.
Yes, (gasps of horror) I am that sort of individual looked down upon by some artists and reviled as ‘a Businessman’ because I don’t Tattoo. I can only suppose that they forget that without guys like me they would have no inks, no machines, no power packs, no flash, no premises, no conventions, no magazines etc. And anyway, I was doing ‘prison’ tattoos before most of them were born!
I see my role as a support system for my artists; I do what I do best, to enable them to do what they do best. It’s that simple. And it works for us.
Historically brilliant artist have always been erratic, chaotic sort of people, who needed help to get the best out of them. Do you think the Sistine Chapel would have got painted if someone; sponsor/ agent/ friend/ (businessman?) had not kept Michelangelo supplied with paint, brushes, scaffolding, wine and young nubiles to get him up in the morning?
However it sometimes freaks me out when we all go out together, and I realize there are 20 people who rely on me every week!
It has been a long and bumpy road to get where we are today, and I would like to thank a few people w