Everything a Tattoo Should Be
> Compact Colour Combo
Back when I first started getting tattooed there was a little storefront space in a shopping strip down on Georgia Street. By word of mouth only, we knew that this was Romero’s Tattoo Studio. You didn’t see his work on the waitresses or musicians around town. The 10 or 12 heavily tattooed people in town were the revolution of 90’s tattooing- big, heavy tribalism, chrome corkscrews, and Giger work- you didn’t see Romero’s tattoos on them. How long had he been there? By the time I got into it, the revolution had begun. We were taking out ads in the local papers. The light had begun to shine on tattooing, channel five news came to the shop. But down there on Georgia, Romero’s little shop had metallic tint covering the windows so that you couldn’t see in at all. There was no neon sign. There was no artwork on the windows. The door was always locked- “Who are you”, “What do you need”, you had to be somebody to get in. Romero had to be expecting you.
The rare tattoos of Romero’s I did get to see were sometimes scary, true cholo artwork for real cholos, sometimes beautiful, small butterflies in full color flying across a girl’s hip. But they were always exquisitely done, with a fine line, hand, and approach. They were like jewelry yet they were so strong, impenetrable, everything a tattoo should be. And everyone couldn’t have one. You go up to the door, and it’s locked. From inside, you could hear a faint buzz atop the beat of a stereo. If you weren’t too afraid, you could put your ear against the window and almost hear the needle breaking the skin…