Atlanta Ink: more than just a tattoo studio

New and creative work space set ups at Atlanta Ink allows for artists to be more creative and work together. Photo by Mayowa Amosu | The Signal

Walking into Atlanta Ink, anyone’s first initial reaction would think they’d accidentally stumbled upon a barber shop. A completely open and unorthodox space, Atlanta Ink is set up with no boundaries. All tattooers are side by side like a hair salon, which allows for connection and creative ideas to flow. 

Otneil Pichardo, owner and co-founder of the shop, decided to team up with longtime friend C.J. McCaskill to open up their own shop and blend their creative visions.

“C.J. and I have been friends for eight years; he gave me my first chest tattoo and we just clicked. He started working at another shop, Studio 219, and that’s where he met the rest of the partners,” Pichardo said. “C.J. had another tattoo shop in West Palm but decided he wanted to come back to Atlanta to open something new. I was like woah let me help you out with that. Then we became partners and got some of the dopest artists in Atlanta.” 

Located in Grant Park, Atlanta Ink opened on June 22, and the artists refer to their space as the “home of the creatives.” The shop isn’t an everyday tattooing studio but a place where the artists experiment and further their artistic crafts constantly. Walking in, at first glance, every artist is either tattooing a new piece, sketching on their iPads or adding murals to their shop’s walls. 

Co-founder C.J. McCaskill and his crew of artists consider themselves more like family than coworkers, so they designed their own space to be an open field so they could all work together. 

Right now, Atlanta Ink consists of five artists who all go by the names, Hobo the Great, Villy Ocean, Kali and Presly. Each artist has their own tattoo style that they specialize in, ranging from photorealism to fine-line geometric shapes. Out of the five artists, there’s no limit to what they can’t do, even outside of tattooing. 

“Hobo is a phenomenal painter, videographer and photographer, Ville is into comic illustrations, graphic design and drawing and I airbrush,” C.J. said. “I did a huge airbrush piece of Andre 3000 up in our shop. It’s all art; everything you see here is all in house, whether it be Hobo’s mural of a tattoo machine or his ginormous Salvador Dalí painting — it’s all us.” 

Each artist has built an impressive name for themselves, all through the use of social media, where each artist showcases their own unique style to their thousands of followers.

New and creative work space set ups at Atlanta Ink allows for artists to be more creative and work together. Photo by Mayowa Amosu | The Signal

“We promote ourselves and our own brands through social media,” Hobo said. “The old-school way of doing flyers or word of mouth is so much harder to get your name out there, but we like to mix both flyers and digital platform. If you get a flyer it’s something you can refer to, remember and collect. If someone who likes your work has the flyer it’s like yo these motherf—— are so hard I gotta keep this and show it to people.”

The Atlanta Ink crew is full of artistically talented people but what about the people who want to learn how to dive into the creative business? Atlanta Ink offers pop up events where anyone can learn how to draw, paint and even tattoo. 

“We offer dope little paint and sips once a month to get more people involved. A person that’s never done [anything] art-related or doesn’t know where to buy art supplies — we give them that opportunity here to explore that,” Hobo said. “I’ve been in the art world for years, but every day, I’m still learning stuff. Always room to grow.” 

As for the steady growth of the shop, they all have plans to expand on how to make their shop different than any other in town. 

“We’re putting more things in place like having an art walk, selling merch and tattooing supplies and having weekly tattoo and piercing specials,” C.J. said. “We’re never going with the regular or traditional way of doing things. One of the new guys here just started a wireless battery-packed tattooing gun. That’s never really been done before.” 

Besides art, the guys are very involved with the city. Artist Kali works with a nonprofit organization called Hugelife Cares, which helps empower youth, feeds the homeless and spreads environmental awareness by cleaning up local parks and recreation areas. 

As for owner Pichardo, he doesn’t tattoo or do anything art-related, but loves being immersed with such motivated creative partners. 

“I don’t do no tattooing even though I’m full of them. I’m not artistic at all — I just handle all the operations and business,” he said. “I feel so blessed every day, though, to be surrounded by a bunch of artistic fellas that do so much great work. I mean, every day, I’m looking at Hobo’s art pieces and think, ‘Wow, how’d he even come up with this?’” 

Working lots of hours and having all sorts of pieces to do and clients to cater to, at the end of the day, the guys agree it’s not even a job to them but their lives’ passion.