The word “gallery” typically evokes images of fine art and public displays of personal expression. And that’s exactly the tone that Tiffany Perez was looking to set as she opened the Ink Gallery Tattoo Studio in Fairfield. The shop is an upscale tattoo studio that doubles as an intimate event space. I sat down with Tiffany to talk about her shop, her unexpected entry into the world of tattoos, and how her love of artistic expression fuels her future. We never talked about her time as a cast member during Season 5 of VH1’s Black Ink Crew, but do yourself a favor: read this interview before jumping over to Youtube.
What got you interested in the tattoo business?
Tattooing wasn't initially part of my life's blueprint. My intention was to attend college and pursue a career as an art teacher. However, everything changed on my 21st birthday when my father surprised me with a tattoo machine as a gift. That unexpected gesture sparked my curiosity and kindled my interest in the world of tattooing.
When did you decide to make it a career?
Following my college years, I made a life-changing decision to turn tattooing into my profession. Although I obtained a degree in art, I decided to embark on a new journey and relocated to Florida at the time. Once I completed my studies, I wholeheartedly embraced the role of a full-time tattoo artist.
Is the name of your studio a result of your love of art?
Yes, the name “Ink Gallery Tattoo Studio” was born from the idea of an art gallery, with a strong desire to infuse the shop with an artistic ambiance. My vision was to treat clients as living canvases, where the human body becomes the medium for our artistry, using ink as our creative tool, crafting unique art pieces on the human form. It was absolutely an intentional connection.
How many do you have yourself?
My personal collection of tattoos is rather modest, totaling only six. Interestingly, I find myself more inclined towards the art of creating tattoos rather than receiving them. While I enjoy the process of tattooing others, my personal preference leans more towards being the artist behind the needle rather than the one in the tattoo chair. Sometimes looking at me, people would never guess I was a tattoo artist.
Who are your clients? Any familiar names to share?
Certainly! Building strong relationships with clients has been a rewarding aspect of my tattooing career. Approximately 80% of my clientele consists of repeat customers, many of whom I've had the pleasure of tattooing for several years. Along the way, I've also had the privilege of working with notable individuals in the entertainment industry. Some of my VIP clients include TV personalities like Snooki from Jersey Shore, Justina Valentine, as well as musicians such as Omarion. Additionally, I've had the honor of tattooing NFL players including Nate Burleson, Ray Lucas, James Ihedigbo, and many more. These experiences have added an extra layer of excitement and fulfillment to my professional journey.
When did you decide to open your own studio? What went into that decision?
For a span of nine years, I operated my own small tattoo shop, equipped with just four booths. However, I always envisioned something greater for myself—an expansive studio bustling with numerous talented artists. Finally, in November 2022, I turned that vision into reality by opening Ink Gallery, the largest tattoo studio in New Jersey. This new establishment has provided me with the platform to curate a vibrant and diverse community of artists, offering a wide range of artistic styles and expertise to cater to our clientele. It has been an exciting and fulfilling journey to witness my dream of a grand tattoo studio come to fruition.
The studio also doubles as an event space. What sort of events have you hosted there?
I have hosted events such as Paint and Sip nights, Friday the 13th flash days, business networking events, Lyme disease fundraisers, and art shows. I’m always going to support my first love!
(Editor’s note: the event space aesthetic wowed us so much that Wayne Lifestyle held our anniversary celebration there earlier this year. It’s a phenomenal venue.)
What do you see in the future for your business?
I see it blossoming into an award-winning tattoo shop that has become renowned in the industry. Our talented artists will consistently deliver exceptional work, pushing the boundaries of creativity and craftsmanship. As we gain recognition and respect within the tattoo community, we will have the opportunity to participate in prestigious tattoo conventions, showcasing our skills on a larger stage.
In addition to our success in the tattooing realm, I envision Ink Gallery Tattoo Studio becoming a hub for artistic events and community building. We will host art exhibitions, bringing together talented artists from various disciplines to showcase their work and foster a sense of inspiration and collaboration. Our space will serve as a catalyst for nurturing a more vibrant and interconnected artistic community, fostering creativity and supporting emerging talents.
The Ink Gallery Tattoo Studio is located at 437 Route 46 West in Fairfield. To check out the space online, go to inkgallerytattoostudio.com.
The belief that tattoos are exclusively associated with criminals, bikers, and gangsters, or that tattoo shops are dark and scary, is nothing more than a persistent myth. In reality, tattoos have transcended stereotypes and have become a popular form of self-expression for people from all walks of life.