A new tattoo shop, Epic Studios, plans to open next week at 492 Division St., Stevens Point.
Niel Marks, owner/tattoo artist, has roughly 20 years of experience working in and managing tattoo shops, and said he wanted to bring the best of those experiences together in his own place. “I wasn’t satisfied with what was available in town, and I just wanted to do something that was in line with how I was taught to do this,” he said.
The store will launch with four tattoo artists with various specialties. One thing that may set it apart is an emphasis on custom work. “We draw what we do here,” said Marks. “We try to treat every tattoo as a unique project and challenge.”
The focus on design and customization is evident in the shop, with customized trim and a logo designed in house. The store will also serve as an art gallery, with displays of work from University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point art students and other local artists planned for the walls. “We just want to make as full a use of the space as possible,” said Marks.
The idea of hanging artwork in a tattoo shop makes sense to Marks who said tattoos have become more mainstream in recent years. “The whole industry of tattooing has evolved quite a bit, especially in the last 10 years. We’re trying to present the modern version of the tattooing as an art industry and not an outlaw industry. It’s not bikers and sailors anymore; it’s cops and firemen and nurses and teachers.”
Nestled between a flower shop and a liquor store, Marks said both have been supportive and welcoming. “I guess we’re trying to change people’s perceptions and show them a different aspect of this that they’ve maybe never seen before,” he said. “We’re doing things the right way.”
Though they won’t open until next week, Marks said interest in the new shop has been high. “As soon as we put the signs up, we had people opening the door about 10 times a day,” he said.
Marks grew up in Waupaca and Stevens Point. He has worked at Ink Lab in Minneapolis and Steve’s Tattoo in Madison. He was trained by the students of tattoo artists Ed Hardy and Sailor Jerry. “This shop is a direct descendant of those guys,” he said. “Guys they taught, taught me.”
Marks said working in a bigger market also meant he tattooed some bigger name clients over the years. “I’ve done a lot of rappers and athletes,” he said. Rappers DMX and Eve were clients of his. As a Green Bay Packer fan, he said he also once had the pleasure of asking professional football player Randy Moss, then playing for the Minnesota Vikings, to leave his shop.
Epic Studios will be open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays, and by appointment.
More information can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/EpicStudiosTattoo54481.