I’d been thinking about my third (and fourth and fifth … ) tattoo for years. After the near-impulse decisions to get tattoos in college (I was pretty broke and they were on sale), I decided my third (and fourth and fifth … ) tattoo would come after a bit more thought. My first two are located on my feet and not easily seen, but the tattoos that would follow were sure to be a bit more visible and required more precision.
Being a Graphic Designer — and hyper-particular and -observant by nature — it was of the utmost importance that I find an artist who could achieve the look and execution that I needed. I spent more than six months
mulling over casually perusing local tattoo artists’ Instagram photos and Yelp reviews when I finally decided to go with Steve “Mondo” Mondary at Handcraft Tattoo and Gallery, conveniently located at 325 W. Fifth Street, an aesthetically appealing tattoo and piercing shop and art gallery that opened on June 1, 2015.
Tattoo in the works. Never mind that my arm matches the background of this page.
I would never trust just anyone with permanently marking my body and, despite being new to the profession and the industry, I knew that Mondo would satisfy my obsessive need for [near] perfection. To get a better feel of the short history behind Handcraft, he was nice enough to answer a few questions for me (edited slightly for content).
Is it just you and Jeff “JK” Kees who own and operate the shop?
JK is the owner, and I am the operating owner/resident artist.
What do you consider your expertise? JK’s? What is your favorite kind of work?
My specialties are American traditional, neo-traditional, lettering (script and freehand custom fonts — big and small), and realism. JK’s expertise is neo-traditional, illustrative work, and realism — his realism work is really strong.
Anything else you want to add?
I am fresh out of my apprenticeship, but will not take on work I am not comfortable with. This ensures quality in each tattoo. JK has been tattooing for seven years, and he is comfortable taking on just about any style. We spent four months looking for a good location, and had a few places that were serious, but fell through due to zoning issues. We were both driving downtown one day and saw a “for rent” sign in the window of this place. We set up a time to check it out and ended up signing the papers the next week.