This month at Monthly Brand I’m taking on a fictional client who is an artist herself, though she chooses not to paint on canvas or on paper. Her tools are needles and her surface is skin. She’s a tattoo artist who’s traveled the world and landed in a big city in the states, ready to improve upon the businesses she’s been a part of for nearly half her life. She’s in love with the art of the tattoo, how it records and reminds, how it announces and remains concealed, how permanent and transient it is. For those out there who have dared to ink themselves, you know what a big deal it is. The threat of permanency is intoxicating, the commitment and the thrill of sealing your thoughts or memories or whatever it is you stand for in stone is something very difficult to find anywhere else.
Luckily for my client, it’s not a craft that is often done diy. Though the city sometimes feels chock full of tattoo parlors, it’s no surprise that most of them are garden variety, and many of them don’t have a staff as passionate as my client. The name she’s given to her parlor is History, and it stands for everything she loves about the discipline of tattoo. History is the reason why we paint ourselves, whether it’s an homage to our mother or a rite of passage within our tribe. The reasons people get tattoos are manifold, but more often than not it is because we do not want to forget something. We want a physical, visual scar that matches an emotional experience. We are our history, and ink in our skin helps remind us of that.
History might fall in the realm of an average tattoo parlor, but probably less run of the mill than most. The owner and artists are more talented than a typical walk-in shop, usually requiring reservations and usually a lengthy discussion about the art they’re commissioning. Though they’ve won a few awards and have had a bit of chatter about them in magazines, they’re not gurus of the city, and they’re fine with that. History is a tight shop that does great work, focusing on as wide a range of visuals as they can with a handful of artists.
They’re looking to brand themselves in an accurate way to help find more of a niche. They want to take down the neon sign and class up the joint a little. Since they believe they have a shot at a more sophisticated boutique shop, and the city can bear that kind of business, they want to go with dark and clean, but still land in the vernacular of rugged street culture. They’re kind of like the guy who shows up to the wedding with an unkempt beard and ten piercings, but in a chic tuxedo. Weathered sexy, so to speak.
History has offered a handful of words to help direct the design of their brand. They might not be the most adjectival words, but they seem to get at the root of their passion:
This being December, it scares me how little time there is. History is looking for something that feels hand drawn, but is sharp enough to feel “hemmed.” I’m ready to jump into the brand with minimal research in the world of tattoo art, but it is certainly tempting to digest all the visuals to understand how it rose to its cultural value today. I suppose I can’t go far without learning the history of History, as it were.