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Faith Tattoo celebrates 10 years

Friday, August 8th, 2014 | Posted by
(photo by Justin Shaw)

(photo by Justin Shaw)

Faith Tattoo on Mendocino celebrates its 10 year anniversary on Saturday, Aug. 9, with an all-day customer appreciation party. The tattoo shop opened initially in Rohnert Park on July 4, 2004, while owner, Justin Shaw, was at the hospital with his wife, who had gone into labor at 6 a.m. that morning. “The shop is as old as my son,” he quipped. It moved to its present location a year later.

Shaw said he loves his downtown location, with a bar next door and a bus stop across the street. His business philosophy is to keep it steeped in the traditional roots of tattooing, while adding class and talented artists from around the world. “We have crazies burst through the door with their stories. It’s like the Wild West. They’re not all charming, but it does bring a certain charm to the experience.” He added that if some colorful character is bothering anyone, all the artists stop tattooing and stare the person down until they leave. He has never had a problem with these interesting folks who wander in and says it give them a laugh and lightens up the day.

(photo by Justin Shaw)

(photo by Justin Shaw)

Though it can be a total nuisance being next to a bar, Shaw said, it does bring in those customers that come in for a tattoo on a whim. “It’s a decision that they live with for the rest of their lives. It can be good or bad. It keeps me connected to the roots of where I started.”

Other reasons people get tattoos are for a memorial, wedding dates, births of children or humor. He said he will not argue with a customer, regardless how he feels about their choice. Though it perplexes him that people would want a company logo forever emblazoned on their bodies, for instance, he will give them what they ask for. He will not do gang or racist tattoos, however.

Design requests have changed because of the Internet, Shaw said, with people now searching on  Pinterest or Google images for a design that is not as unique as they might think. In the old days, he said, good designs were coveted and hard to find. “It’s neat to keep some of those old tatts alive.” Now they can be found on eBay, he added.

Shaw recently opened a second shop in Cotati. Shortly after opening Highway Tattoo at 8573 Gravenstein Highway, he did a tattoo on a police officer who gave him a hug and welcomed him to the shopping center, underscoring the shift in today’s clientele. He and the other four artists at Faith in Santa Rosa, now tattoo granddaughters and grandmothers together, police officers, highway patrolmen, priests and lawyers. Back when he started, in the Central Valley, Shaw mostly tattooed bikers, gangsters and punk rockers.

Tattoos have certainly become more mainstream. Shaw has heard mothers say their kids would make great tattoo artists  – a profession mothers would never want for their kids twenty years ago. Shaw said, though you can buy the equipment on the Internet, being a good tattoo artist is not just about being an artist. “You have to have compassion and charm. You have to relate to people.”

When asked what makes his Santa Rosa shop special, Shaw said it is the talent he brings in from around the world; artists he has pulled in through his contacts and networking at conventions. “It sets us apart from everything that’s going on here.” He added that his shop has more of an artistic approach and a friendlier environment. “We’re young, normal guys who want to do nice tattoos on people.” Shaw is not a five- and ten-year plan kind of guy. He plans to, “let nature take its course. Ride the wave of life. I take it as it comes.” Well, it has worked for ten years.

Faith Tattoo is located at 600 Mendocino Ave. Hours are 12 – 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 12 – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The customer appreciation party will go on all day Saturday, and include snacks, giveaways and talented artists from all over the country. Live music will be added from 7 – 10 p.m. For more information, call 566-9955.  



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Ann Hutchinson is our Santa Rosa correspondent.
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