There was a time when simply being a tattooer that worked in a shop was enough. You hung your flash on the walls, people walked in and chose a piece, and then you went to work. To succeed in today’s thriving tattoo community you need to do so much more, a key part of that is maintaining a social media/web presence. Few know this as well as Cholo, owner and artist at Melbourne’s Fine Line Tattoos.
“The digital and real world are not too far apart these days, when you start making a name for yourself it’s important to get on top of this,” Cholo explains. “It’s modern day word of mouth, with proof. People get inspiration for their tattoos from other tattoos and they are resourceful, so this is how you get found and passed around. It’s rare that someone walks through the door and doesn’t already know about other work I’ve done.”
So if someone hasn’t been tattooed by Cholo how would they know about his work? From his website created using Squarespace. Thanks to the customizable nature of Squarespace sites — there are hundreds of different options to help you make the site that is best for you and your brand — Cholo was able to make the site that works best for his business. “The brief that we tasked ourselves with was to ensure that my shopfront, website, social media and all online elements were all reflective of tattoos that I do. If I describe my tattoos as ‘clean’ and ‘crisp’, then all my socials and touch points to the end consumer have to be that way too – so that’s the feel we went for.”
You wouldn’t use the same template for a funeral parlor that you would for a tattoo shop, customization is key. A site needs to be able to shift and adapt to suit your needs, it needs to be a collaboration. The same sort of process also works for tattooing. When Cholo first started out back in 2011 his work was heavily influenced by the lettering graffiti that he had done in high school. But as he started working with customers who wanted fine line cursive lettering he learned that he excelled at creating this type of work, and just like that, he found his style.
“I got more confident with it and started putting my own flair onto these pieces,” Cholo says. “That’s when I really started picking up a lot of work designing and doing smaller and purely fine line work. I think in a lot of ways my clientele helped me realise my style, they also help me refine it through their own creativity. I realised this was where my talent was and so I spent most of my time making sure this skill was as close to perfect as I can get it.”
With his focus clearly on delicate, fine line illustrative blackwork tattoos, Cholo has found a niche where he is thriving. When it comes to social media and his website, Cholo presents his work in a slightly different way than a lot of artists do. “Small tattoos resonate most with my clientele and though their tattoos are very personal to them, I decided that I would strip the personal side of things from the content that I post,” he explains. “I figure, if the design is mine, the story is still theirs to tell and usually they will do this through their own socials and shout out back to me. It’s a partnership with each and every person who works through the door.”
The reality of things is that while we all love to think of tattooing as an art, and it is an art, there is a business side to it. Artists need to market themselves in a smart way, and that’s why a company like Squarespace can help. The easy functionality let’s someone like Cholo keep their focus on what is most important — the tattoos. “I was a tattoo artist when I first started; I became a businessperson recently,” he says. “With that said, people think about business too much and end up putting it before what they do. Regardless of the pressures that come with running a business, you never stop being an artist in this game. I don’t see myself as someone doing business so much as someone who gets to do what he loves doing.”