New is the New New

August 1, 2016

Good grief, I think it’s been over a year since I manned the keyboards… For that I’m sorry. It’s not you, it’s me.

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There are so many things afoot that if I told you them all, you wouldn’t believe me. It would sound like a total “dog ate my homework” story, but I’m telling you, it’s all true. Some things I can share with you all. Other things are secret, but we’ll reveal them when the time is right. We don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

I’ll start with the easy stuff: We repainted the shop façade. We made new t-shirts with the amazing folks at Table 6 Designs. I went to China and ate a scorpion (among other things).

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This is the first time we’ve fully put our logo on a t-shirt.

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White is the new black.

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Tastes like chicken!

Here’s exciting stuff: we have a brand new website.

This is the big thing that I want to talk about for a few reasons. The first reason is that it’s our third iteration of the shop’s site, but it’s the first one that we’ve done without Greg Geisler, our original web designer in Austin, TX. Greg’s been with us since 2002 (before we even moved to Maine!), and he’s been integral in inspiring us and helping us mold a vision of the shop’s digital presence. The crazy thing is that we’ve never met him, don’t know what he looks like, and may never meet him (unless we end up in Austin some day). This is the world we live in. We’re so fond of this guy, and yet we couldn’t pick him out of a Saturday night line-up. (Fun fact: Greg was one of the animators for Richard Linklater’s film A Scanner Darkly starring Keanu Reeves.)

The internet is a different place from the one that we started in when we launched the site back in 2003. Now there are a million more sites. People spend less time on a site. It’s all wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, make an online reservation, click here, swipe right.

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Our new site has to reflect these changes (sort of). The original site had behind the scenes commentary on all the tattoos. It had “casual” pictures. It had a links page (linking to tattoo/random/funny sites that we liked. Remember “Homestar Runner”?!). Who has time for this now? Not us… not with kids, jobs, motorcycles, books to read, drawings to do. I recently read an article about  what to do when there are so many great TV shows and not enough time.  What do you do?  You watch TV at double the speed… obviously. Or not so obviously. We like things the old-fashioned way, but we’re also open to the dynamics of change.

What’s the function of the website now? Much the same, we think, but in a different way. Function?  See some sweet tats (yup, I said it). Get our phone number or email. Figure out where we are. It’s quick and dirty.

BUT…  For me and Sue, a big part of the new site’s job was to convey, as quickly as possible, a feel for the shop’s physical space. We wanted the new site to be warm, inviting, and well curated (as the old site was). We wanted the color palette to be similar to the shop’s actual color. We wanted you to see our newest works. We wrote brand new FAQ’s (that no one will read!).

New to the site: We wrote a mission statement as well as a statement of ethics because we’re people with ethics and we’re on a mission. I could make a joke about the missionary position here, but I won’t in case my mother-in-law is reading this… But seriously, we had a shop meeting,  and we talked about the ethics of business and politics—about whether it was important for businesses to be political.  It’s the climate that we’re living in right now. We were not unanimous in our feelings on this. Some of us thought that the shop should remain apolitical (neutral) because it was a position that was comfortable and respectful for everyone (client and tattooer).  I get that.

I’ll speak for myself since I (Phuc) am writing this blog post. I think that there are moral and social justice issues that I (Phuc) cannot be “neutral” on. I cannot remain neutral on institutional or systemic racism. I cannot remain neutral on the Black Lives Matter movement. I cannot remain neutral on sexism, homophobia, or rape-culture. We had a passionate debate on what the ethical thing was for a business to do. Needless to say, the statement of mission and ethics is the first of a few changes.

I look at the NBA refusing to do its All-Star game in North Carolina because of recent trans-phobic legislation, and the NBA’s decision feels right to me. There’s no financial reason for the NBA to withhold its business from North Carolina (they’re gonna make money wherever), but there are a whole host of ethical reasons to flex their moral muscle. Kudos to them.

It may be an extreme analogy, but who was awesome in 1940’s Germany? Businesses that were politically neutral or businesses that recognized their ethical duty to help Jews escape? I’m hoping that you’d agree that it was the latter, but if you don’t, I hope that you’ll still feel that our shop is a place to have a civil conversation. We do our best to respectfully hear all opinions.

So that’s where we’re at.  We are on a mission.  We are busting our humps over here at 21 Pleasant Street. Cyndi Lou is crushing it with her tattoos. Matt is making a great transition to the shop. What a great summer… We’re so happy to share it with you.

Finally, a big, big, big thank you to Meghan Lambert at Perchmade for the site design. In vulgar parlance, she is the motherfuckin’ shit. For real. We gave her a visual mission statement, and she took it to the next level. And also big, big, big thanks to Independent Street Photography for shooting almost all the new pictures.  It was not easy to wrangle us for a photo shoot, and for me there’s just my awkward side and my other awkward side. Louis is the best.

Please check out the site; we hope you’ll like it.  And of course, please us know if there’s something missing that you’d like to see.

And as always, we’re doing what we do because of your ongoing support.  There are now over 16 (!) tattoo shops in Portland, so thank you for helping us be the best shop that we can be.

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