When you walk into a tattoo shop in New York City, you can usually expect a certain kind of stereotypical atmosphere — a rough, masculine quality in the air, intimidating-looking dudes living in a world of tough posturing featuring a blaring hardcore soundtrack.
These expectations shatter immediately when you walk into Eight of Swords in Brooklyn. Before the friendly shop girl Sonja can greet you with a smile, you’ll likely notice Baby D, the outgoing black and white shop cat, rubbing up against your leg. “It’s pet therapy,” Betty Rose, one of the artists at Eight of Swords, says with a smile. “She diffuses nervousness. She knows.”
To say the vibe here is chill would be an understatement. The shop has gone out of its way to curate the most laid back atmosphere you could ever hope to find. The soundtrack is always pretty mellow, nothing too loud, nothing too fast. The focus at Eight of Swords is on customer service; the staff understand the value of customers, and always want to give their customers their best. They listen to clients, and love to help them arrive at informed and artistic choices for pieces. Everyone here is flexible, they all mold and adapt to their client’s needs. Betty jokingly describes the overall idea as “mellow enthusiasm.”
Eight of Swords opened its doors five years ago when owner Dave Wallin wanted to create a space to work with people of similar values. “I’ve found my true home, free of negativity and opportunistic leeches," Wallin says. "A sanctuary in an over-saturated industry bereft of respect and honor.”
Eight of Swords features an amazing cast of talented artists. Each of them strive to exhibit the mindfulness and professional wisdom the shop tries to embody, while dishing out some seriously awesome ink.
Wallin is highly skilled at illustrative etchings and Japanese pieces. If gifted dot work and a keen eye for detail is what you seek, Zoe Bean is the artist for you. Or, if you want a bold witchy piece that is both clean and solid while steeped in a traditional style, Drew’s portfolio is sure to delight. With his training as a draftsman at the forefront of his work, Guy Ursitti offers customers a beautiful blend of new traditional and illustrative styles. And Betty Rose blasts out whimsical traditional pieces firmly rooted in delicate line work and interesting color choices. Somehow, all of these industry veterans with decades of experience still come across as being excited to be tattooers.
In addition to making sure that their clients get great tattoos, Wallin and crew make sure that the shop is an integral part of the local community. Aside from bi-monthly art shows, the shop hosts charitable events several times a year. On March 10th, the shop will host a silent auction with all proceeds going to the Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit animal welfare organization. The event will also feature pets who need homes available for adoption and a bar, just in case you need help deciding to get a new best friend.