“We have so much crap that it felt farther than it was,” said Colin Bryant, manager of Super Genius Tattoo, the highly regarded ink shop that moved to 1419 10th Ave on January 1st after more than 11 years on E Pike.
Just steps from the Pike Street Fish Fry and Neumos, Super Genius appears to have upgraded from a cramped, horseshoe-shaped accommodations to a warehouse-style studio with moderately vaulted ceilings. The space was for a time home to Atlas Clothing until it quietly left the Hill in August 2011.
Justin Boyle, one of Super Genius’ 10 artists, said the open design and roughly 400 square feet of additional space helps two-fold: offering tattooers and tattoo-ees extra room during the delicate body modification process and enhancing the display of its expansive collection of custom artwork.
Super Genius Tattoo is celebrating its move and its 12th anniversary on Saturday, January 18th.
What will they be doing? “I don’t really know,” Bryant said. “Hopefully people are going to come and stand around and drink.”
The move came less out of necessity than from good timing between the ending of its previous lease and a fortuitous opportunity.
“We are in a big open room with better lighting and a better maintained building,” Bryant said. “It was destiny.”
The relocation comes with modest risks, pushing the innovative art pieces and signage out of view from the more heavy foot traffic area on Pike.
But Bryant is not concerned.
“The actual foot traffic that’s out there is less because you don’t have as many drunk people walking in front of the shop, but the people who want tattoos doesn’t seem to have changed,” he said. “People who want tattoos will find us.”
“We will probably just have less homeless people asking to sell arts and crafts in the shop and less people asking for directions,” he added.
The move also inspired plans to cross-promote with nearby music venue Neumos and other businesses, including Moe Bar.
“We will have a new crowd hanging out in front of our shop who are more likely to come in,” Bryant said. “People at a show and Moe Bar are more likely to spend money on a tattoo.”
The enchanting, and certainly odd, permanent works that Super Genius is known for has helped keep clientele from overlooking the new digs.
“It’s a weird seahorse lady,” explained artist Kyler Martz, while slicing into the flesh of return-customer Emily Hanzal, 22, of Capitol Hill.
Where to get ink
After decades of association with sailors, bikers and the criminally insane, tattoos are an established powerhouse of the mainstream, thanks in part to rampant publicity from popular reality TV shows.
There are currently 123 active “artist operators” with tattoo endorsements in Seattle, most of whom are independent contractors for one of the city’s 44 licensed shops. The Washington State Department of Licensing doesn’t break down the number of licenses by neighborhood, but dozens of the shops are located on The Hill.
With so many shops available, the trick is to find a safe environment and artists who speak to your inner pain threshold.
“There’s not one shop that is ‘the shop’ [in Capitol Hill],” said Jeff McKay, who works the front desk at Dark Age. “There are good tattooers all over the city.”
Name and management change at Lucky Devil
The ever-evolving landscape of tattoo shops continued east on the Hill in 2014, as the former Lucky Devil Tattoo Shop changed its management team and well-known name to Dark Age Tattoo. The shop moved in May from 1720 12th Ave to its more readily accessible location at 1417 E Madison, sharing a building with Piecora’s Pizza.
Although Lynn Gosnell remains as the official name on the lease, artists Derek Noble and Jesse Roberts have taken control of the operations.
Noble, who had worked at the shop for six years before his change in leadership role, said demolition of old buildings in the neighborhood has forced some tattoo shops (including their own) into new buildings with higher rent. Although the management change should have negligible impact on the overall product, Noble said the new shop, with its high ceilings and more professional look, have been good for business.
“It’s a better location,” he said. “It’s busier; there’s more going on here than on 12th.”
You can learn more at darkagetattoo.com.