Needling Through Athens Ink Joints

Athens, Ohio is home to Ohio University and roughly 24,000 students alongside its permanent residents. Noted for its bar scene, Court Street is saturated with not only bars but tattoo shops as well.

Athens has four tattoo and piercing locations all within a half-mile of each other. Traveling down Court Street from the north, the first tattoo shop encountered is Skin Hooked, followed by Decorative Injections, and near the end of the street you’ll find Art Apocalypse and Thunder Bunny.

With so many shops in such a concentrated area, shop owners share similar opinions on having so much competition in the area.

Owner and artist at Decorative Injections, Jim Kisor, said he appreciates the competitive atmosphere Athens yields.

“Competition isn’t that bad,” Kisor said. “It gives the customer choices, and it’s just unrealistic to get all the business in the area.”

As a newer shop on the block, Skin Hooked opened in 2013 by owner Shawn Hawks. Hawks said the amount of competition is great motivation for continuing to advance in his craft.

“Competition forces you to be on your game, work travels fast, and as the newest shop in the area we are quickly gaining a positive reputation and footing,” Hawks said.

Personal experience is what seems to set the competition apart. Alex Frantz, an Ohio Univesity student, got a butterfly tattooed on her ankle at Thunder Bunny Tattoo Shop and said the shop atmosphere made her experience worthwhile.

“I think the shop gets overlooked because it’s not on Court Street, but the guys there are crazy talented and fun to be around,” Frantz said. “They make you feel super comfortable and he made himself really available to me during the healing process for any questions I had.”

While Frantz had a positive experience, Briana Brown chose to get her tattoo at Skin Hooked after not feeling welcome at another tattoo shop.

“They were nice and willing to work with me,” Brown said. “I got my first two there and now I have five, my experience with them was great.”

While personal experience plays a vital role in where people choose to get tattooed, in Athens price does not. On average, a small tattoo starts at about $50, where larger pieces begin at $150 per hour.

Want a closer look at the life of a tattoo artist? Check out my story on Decorative Injections, Jim Kisor.} else {

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Kierra Cotton
Kierra is a senior journalism student at Ohio University. In her free time, she enjoys reading, reality TV, and Youtube.

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