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Atlanta, Georgia

Cap Szumski—Timeless Tattoo

By Bob Baxter with photographs by Bernard Clark

Cap Szumski has been working out of the same location on Cheshire Bridge Road in Atlanta for over fourteen years. The opposite of the high-ceilinged, picture-book, turn-of-the-century setting of Johnny Hollywood's 13 Roses on Flat Shoals Avenue, Timeless Tattoo is built more on Cap's solid reputation than period architecture. But the bare-bones, functional ambiance of Cap's place suits his customers just fine. A mainstay on the convention scene for years, Cap's been around long enough to be considered "old guard," and his ingratiating manner and positive attitude have made him a respected and knowledgeable representative of the tattoo scene, past and present.

"I was working for Brian Everett for six years in Albuquerque," says Cap. "I tried to go back to the San Fernando Valley, where I was born, but after living in New Mexico I just couldn't bring myself to move back to Los Angeles. So, my ex-wife and I set out driving across country. We stopped here in Atlanta and hung out with Tony Olivas for a couple of weeks. I found that folks here always had time to hang out, even though they lived in a big city. It was exactly what I was looking for. I think there were six shops when I got here. There was Tony, of course, and Kevin Cronin, who was the big deal here then.

"My love for it developed, literally, when I was still in diapers," recalls Deano. "My uncle already had me out doing things in the bay—he had a house in Florida—so it's always been a strong passion of mine. It wasn't until a little way into my tattoo career that I figured out how to marry the two together. This was a purposeful tactic on my part, to keep me doing something I love. The one helped me perpetuate the other. Now there's a blurry line between when I'm working and when I'm playing. Because of it, all my vacations become part of my work. I dive and do underwater photography and it all adds to my image bank, my reference library." more...

13 Roses Tattoo Parlour

By Bob Baxter with photographs by Bernard Clark

The two-story structure housing Atlanta's 13 Roses Tattoo Parlour reminds me of the Flatiron Building at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and Broadway at 23rd Street in New York City. It's like the prow of a ship, is what it is. Very unique, and the same Flatiron ambiance (the Manhattan version was built in 1902) echoes throughout the architecture. All the accoutrements reflect a time past. While the current trend is to make tattoo shops look like dentist offices—sterile, fluorescent lights, commercial-grade rugs on the floor—no such vision for 13 Roses. Everything here is turn-of-the-century (the twentieth), from the mahogany woodwork to the milk-glass door panels with perfectly executed lettering a la a Mickey Spillane detective office, complete with vintage light fixtures, ceiling fans and a pool table. Even the hand-lettering on the stair steps (each in a different script) recalls an era long past. Padded-leather benches are reminiscent of yesteryear's tonsorial parlours (note the old-time spelling), the barber shops where my dad and his dad got a trim a shave and a shine. Even the windows overlooking the tree-lined street are replete with fancy, curlicue script and historic signage.

When I first climbed the stairs to the second floor, I was enthralled by the concept—the high ceilings, the hardwood floors and the perfectly framed artwork. Nothing is haphazardly tacked to the wall. Every painting, every sheet of historic flash is elegantly mounted and ready for a professional photo session, whether it be with Skin&Ink or, for that matter, Architectural Digest. more...

Deano Cook—Psycho Tattoo

By Bob Baxter with photographs by Bernard Clark

Back in the day, tattoo studios looked more like motorcycle repair shops. Both the clientele and the surroundings were rather rough-honed and foreboding. But in the last few years, tattoo shop owners have cleaned up their acts and the focus is now on cleanliness and efficiency. At the top of that list is Psycho Tattoo, Deano Cook's dentist-office-on-acid in Marietta, Georgia.

Perfectly laid out (every tattoo station his it's own TV and sound system with earphones), every corner, from the waiting area to the piercing room is meticulous, clean and modern. While the predominant theme is marine life (there's assorted aquariums and snippets from amazing Deano's underwater photography on flatbed TV monitors wherever your eye wanders), the most striking element is the efficiency. Deano has it just the way he wants it. Much of this is due to his brother, Russ, who took charge of our visit, lined up the models to photograph and, seemingly, all in one breath, not only provided the answers to all of our questions but made us feel comfortable and at home.

However, the star of the show is clearly the sun-tanned, fit and athletic, Deano Cook himself. While it is clear that he is currently crazy for anything aquatic, Deano has been a lover of the ocean since childhood. He had an uncle who started him out, crabbing, fishing, snorkeling, doing a lot of activities around the ocean.

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Tony Olivas—Sacred Heart Tattoo

By Bob Baxter with photographs by Bernard Clark

Tony Olivas is one of tattooing's most-revered black-and-gray artists. Gaining a foundation from single-needle pioneers Jack Rudy, Brian Everett and Freddy Negrete, Olivas's main shop, Sacred Heart, in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta, reminded us of a ski lodge with its high-peaked ceilings and smokin' barbeque grill on the porch overlooking the tree-lined street below. It was quite a gathering, with chicken and ribs on the grill, lots of friends and family and customers coming through the door with fabulous tattoo art to photograph.

Many of Tony's artists have been with him for the better part of a decade. Tony himself has been tattooing for thirty years, and just two years ago formed a partnership with his shop mates, making it a true family affair. Tony began tattooing, poking by hand, when he was fifteen in Arizona. His older brother, Henry, ultimately presented him with a homemade machine, which Tony used for about ten years. And then Tony relocated to Dixieland Tattoo, working with the late Adam West in Panama City Beach, Florida. Tony then went to work at Ancient Art with Jerry Reiger and J.D. Crowe in Virginia for a couple years and then opened his own shop, Ancient Art (Crowe let Tony use the name), located in Stone Mountain, Virginia. Then, almost two years to the date, Olivas came up with Sacred Heart, which he has operated in Atlanta for fourteen years. Tony now owns five shops in Georgia, one at Little 5 Points (the flagship Location), Norcross, Centerville, Warner Robins and Austell. more...