Founded by artist John F. Garancheski III in 2005, Tattooed Heart Studios is a custom tattoo shop devoted to customer service and nurturing passion for art. The place is young and fresh, with a modernized glass-and-leather interior that reflects its novelty and commitment to quality. Despite it being a private, appointment-only establishment, it is neither cold nor exclusive: stepping into Tattooed Heart Studios is a pleasant and welcome experience, whether you’re there for an appointment or just to visit, as PainfulPleasures had the pleasure of doing this past month. The place is adorned with framed artwork, the floors are polished and shiny, the walls are rich-red as a heart itself, and several times throughout our visit, we heard the booming laughter of artists mid-session with their clients.
Before Tattooed Heart Studios moved in and took over the space in 2015, the location was formally known as The Studio at PainfulPleasures, offering tattoos from select artists and laser tattoo removal. It was nurtured and developed over time by Marc Gagnier of PainfulPleasures, who was successful in creating a professional space that is everything a client or an artist could hope for in a parlor or studio: clean, sleek, and spacious with open walls.
“Marc has put so much love into building this space out,” John Garancheski said during our recent interview with him.
John Garancheski and his crew have really made the space their own in the past few years. He and his team, a tight-knit unit of passionate and good-hearted tattoo artists, have developed and expanded over the years; they have each added their own individual flare to the place, making for a collective team aesthetic. Potted plants, a Zen-style rock garden, a flat-screen television, and black leather couches make for an inviting main reception area. The black leather couches, John enthusiastically informed us, are from Overstock.com! The subject of Overstock furniture, in fact, kicked off our friendly and insightful interview with John as we took our (remarkably comfortable) seats. John is all about owning a studio that not only offers a comfortable place to sit, but is devoted to an optimal tattoo experience and nurturing the collective team mentality:
“That was the goal of Tattooed Heart from day one; it was to create a custom tattoo environment that was centered around customer service, and that was filled with artists who are passionate about making art, and being nice to people,“ John said regarding his values. “[...] We’re doing this as a team.”
People can really get a sense of that team mentality and welcoming vibe just by perusing the open space, taking a look at the framed artwork by local artists, and, most notably, admiring the columns in front of each station — every column displays a poster that boasts the custom artwork of each artist on staff. While admiring the eclectic touches combined into one overall atmosphere, clients may also choose to browse the racks of apparel or glass display cases containing varied body jewelry and merch.
Guests can further appreciate the individual tastes, styles, and personalized contributions of each artist by taking a peek in each glass-walled station. The glass dividers, comfortable black leather TatSoul client chairs, and the framed, diverse wall art demonstrate both love for creative expression and value in clean, sterile, professional procedures. Clients can even enjoy the benefit of privacy glass during tattoo sessions; the quick flip of a switch makes the glass walls opaque, creating a totally private experience between the artist and the client.
What is also striking about Tattooed Heart Studios is its roots in traditionalism. There are a series of black-and-white photographs on the walls by John’s office. Each photo was taken by John himself back when he was a student at community college and simultaneously helping out at a local tattoo shop in small-town Pennsylvania.
“I lived in a small town, so there was one tattoo shop in the whole town. And I was like, man it would be really cool to go take photos of the tattoo shop. These photos that are up there on the wall,” John said regarding a photography assignment from that period in time, “[…] I took photos of the guys tattooing, I took photos of them drawing and preparing things; and actually, those photos and that assignment was what kinda led me to establish a deeper relationship with the artist that worked at the studio.”
It could be this warm and humble inspiration from a small-town tattoo shop that assists in creating such a welcoming atmosphere that is, perhaps, pleasantly unexpected in such a “hip,” modernized establishment. Teamwork, humility, and Overstock couches are just the stencil-work of a much bigger tattooed heart, colored with passion, and nuanced with traditional, team-driven values.
A tattoo artist since 2001, John F. Garancheski III is now sought-after for his unique and well-honed style, specializing in mandala, floral, geometric, and ornamental tattoos. As both an artist and a business owner, John had a lot to say about artistic integrity, passion, determination, and balance. Check out our full interview with John F. Garancheski III here!