By Valerie D. Lockhart
SUN EXECUTIVE EDITOR
Visitors entering a gallery on Detroit’s northwest side leave with a lasting impression. It’s not the walls decorated with artistic photographs and bronze mannequins that add to the gallery’s ambiance, but the patrons themselves that create a unique experience.
Clients are transformed into walking works of arts at Gallery Tattoo, located at 15728 W. 7 Mile Detroit, Mich. 48235.
“We’re not just going to put anything on anybody. Art is our passion,” says Joe Motion, Gallery Tattoo owner. “You are our walking canvas. We don’t just tattoo our clients, we put artwork on them. You have people that do tattoos and tattoo artists. We take pride in the end result.”
That pride has been displayed by the artists at Gallery Tattoo for 10 years, leaving a permanent mark on their clientele.
Although males make up much of their clientele, women are getting inked as well. Tattoos were once seen on male entertainers, athletes, bikers or gang members. However, that trend has changed, as female entrepreneurs, law enforcement officers, teachers, and nurses are now getting tattooed, which offers a perfect Mother’s Day gift that she’ll treasure forever.
“Their work is art,” says Diane Gill, an entrepreneur and mother. “This is the only place I will ever go to get a work of art on my body. They have done over 14 tattoos, which all of them have their own story to tell. They are very creative artists that has mastered the art of using ink to create beautiful designs on the body. They also have the ability to follow the directions of their clients and the skills to do professional work to ensure their clients are completely happy with the finished work. I love them so much.”
Capri James also admired the work she received.
“I love Gallery Art. Joe is my tatt artist,” says James. “Most complain about the prices, but it’s well worth it.”
Joe Motion, a skilled sketcher and painter, admits he developed much of his skills through trial and error.
“I did my first tattoo on my roommate, while in my sophomore year at the University of Hartford. It was a little dragon tattoo,” he explains. “Because the university didn’t have tattooing as a class, I apprenticed with a white bearded man at a biker shop. Two weeks into my apprenticeship, he died of a heart attack. I had to learn the art on my own, because other shops weren’t welcoming to African Americans.”
Learning the art required comprehending proper sanitization techniques and figuring out which inks are non-toxic and works best on different skin tones. Although license requirements for tattoo artists vary from state to state, Joe Motion says there’s one license that all tattoo artists seek to obtain.
“The license of acceptance in the industry is what a real tattoo artist seeks to achieve,” he says. “This will determine if you’re viewed as a scratcher or a tattoo artist.”
Earning that acceptance has not only resulted in praise among other artists but has customers, young and old, speaking favorably about their tattoo and piercing abilities.
“I got my piercing done by Joe,” says Summer Starling. “I’m 17, and I went with my mom. The experience was amazing. I felt comfortable and even though the piercing room isn’t like a surgical operating room, it is still clean. Joe is personable and very intelligent. Overall, I definitely will be going back for my navel and first tattoo.”
To boost customer satisfaction and eliminate health risks, Gallery Tattoo staff utilize strict sanitation practices and restrict anyone under 16 years old from getting tattooed.
“We’re required to uphold the same safe health standards as a nurse would take. We get Hepatitis shots and operate like a hospital,” adds Joe Motion. “Sharp containers are picked up by a hazardous waste disposal company. We’re certified in handling blood-borne pathogens, so that we do not cross contaminate. Every year we renew our certificate.”
Health standards aren’t the only thing Gallery Tattoo staff stand by. They also stick strongly to moral standards.
“Being where we are on 7 mile and being a shop that’s in the city, we don’t promote gangs, anti-Semitism tattoos or sacrilegious type tattoos,” says Joe Motion. “This business is a blessing to me and my family and the families of the employees that work here. So, we turn away a lot of designs for gang signs, tear drops and underage kids. We don’t allow smoking cigarettes or marijuana in the gallery. We’re very professional.”
Professionalism along with a unique artistic experience is sure to leave a lasting impression on those visiting the Gallery Tattoo.
“Love it,” says Nessa Ballard. “Mo def going back.”
For additional information, call (313)272-0123.