WHAT: Steel and Ink
WHERE: 1010 W. Las Palmas Ave, Ste. B
HOURS: 12 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 12 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday; closed Sundays
Tattoo parlors are no longer dark places that are associated with rebellious youngsters and crimes, but welcoming shops that sell artistic works for one’s body.
A few years ago, Justin and Clara Francis decided it was time to open their own tattoo shop. In their search for an ideal, welcoming locale, the couple found Patterson.
The Francis’ — originally from Hayward — chose to move to a small town where they could raise their two children, and run an accessible, friendly business. In doing so, they hope to dispel some of the negative stereotypes surrounding body modification. Both feel strongly about tattooing as an art form and hope to be an example of good, friendly businessmen and neighbors in the area.
“The taboo (associated with tattoos) has been long dead — it’s all about self-expression now,” Justin Francis said. “We strive to keep our clients happy by providing a place to come and experience the world of tattoos and piercing in a nice, family-friendly atmosphere, free from the attitude and lack of personal-interest they might receive at many other shops.”
Steel and Ink originally opened up on West Las Palmas Avenue, next to Papa Murphy’s, in December 2011. Though the shop is small, the Francis’ pride themselves on a setup that is very clean, tidy and professional.
“Patterson has been very good to us. We also get clients from all of the surrounding cities like Newman, Westley and Modesto,” Justin Francis said. “Word of mouth is the bread and butter of the tattooing industry — it can make or destroy you. A good two-thirds of our customers come back for more.”
For the inked-up trio of artists at Steel and Ink, tattooing is as much about the collaboration between craftsman and client as it is the final product, if not more so.
Between the three of them — Jose Bedolla of Turlock, Ron Dizon of Lathrop and Justin Francis — their experience includes rigorous apprenticeships, art school and more than 20 years of tattooing and piercing.
“My job is an extension of my person,” Dizon said. “I put my heart and soul into each piece. I wouldn’t want to leave (a tattoo) to just anyone. You should have an artist who cares about, and works to improve their craft.”
The artists said they bonded over a mutual desire to further hone their artistic merit and technique and provide a unique, “one-on-one” tattoo experience.
All three artists at Steel and Ink are registered with the Stanislaus County Health Department and practice proper sterilization on all their tools for both tattooing and piercing. Their piercing supplies are shipped in sterile packaging and all tattooing needles are sterilized before use.
Customers must be 18 years or older to patronize the shop, unless they have a parent or guardian with them.
The walls at Steel and Ink are plastered with band posters, stickers and drawings by local artists. Amid the artwork are spaces lined with unique skateboarding memorabilia like customized decks and T-shirts.
The owners said they plan to eventually expand their selection of body jewelry and hope to add more locally handmade items to the shop as well.
“I wanted to have a place where I’d bring the artists and people of Patterson together,” Justin Francis said.
As a seasonal promotion, Steel and Ink is offering free half-hour sessions to touch up or rework older tattoos. The parlor offers tattoos and piercing on a walk-in and appointment basis.
“Tattoos and summer just go together,” Justin Francis said. “Summertime is always busier (than other seasons). As the weather heats up, more people want to get outdoors and show off their art.”
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.