A brand new tattoo studio on Oak Bluffs is able to fill the Island’s tattoo wants, and seeks to bolster the already substantial arts group we get pleasure from right here.
The brand new store, named Seaview Tattoo after venerable Winery character Johnny Seaview, is helmed by artist Jeff Gemma.
Down alongside the picturesque Oak Bluffs Harbor, the quaint but snug studio is tucked right into a tiny alleyway, and is full of spectacular artwork of every kind.
After getting my first-ever tattoo at Seaview, I used to be in a position to converse with Gemma about his time as an artist, and the way he discovered his option to Martha’s Winery to open a studio.
It began when Gemma was a child — he was all the time drawing and, he mentioned, received grounded quite a bit.
“I had a stepfather who actually favored to drop the hammer, so being in my room with nothing to do actually set a fireplace for me,” Gemma mentioned. “I received to precise my feelings artistically, and it was actually the remedy I wanted.”
Initially, Gemma mentioned, he was planning on going to vocational college after highschool to develop into an indication painter, however that was within the mid ’80s, when screenprinting was turning into automated and letters have been being minimize utilizing laptop software program. “I spotted there wasn’t a lot of a requirement for hand-painted indicators,” he mentioned.
After having just a few art-related jobs following highschool, Gemma started working with the Division of Youth Providers in Massachusetts, then moved to Florida and took a job with the Down Syndrome Basis.
After a while in that function, Gemma mentioned he felt misplaced, and needed to discover a profession within the artwork sphere. “I used to be on this confused type of path, like, What do I do with my life journey?” he mentioned.
On the age of 26, when Gemma was visiting a pal in Florida whereas on his option to Massachusetts, he determined to take a look at some tattoo outlets within the Jacksonville space, the place he was staying.
At first, he went into just a few biker outlets, however didn’t initially discover the diploma of professionalism and fervour he was in search of, the place he may be taught as a lot as doable about tattooing. “They weren’t actually true artists of the commerce. However then, one store I walked into and the art work on the wall was simply mind-blowing,” Gemma mentioned. “I informed the man, ‘I wish to learn to make tattoos such as you do.’”
Simply as Gemma was about to proceed on his journey, he received a name from the tattoo store proprietor, who supplied him an apprenticeship — his very first tattooing expertise.
“It was type of bizarre being the brand new man, as a result of nobody actually needs new artists on this enterprise,” Gemma mentioned. “You’re principally taking cash out of their pockets of their eyes, in the event you aren’t committing your self undyingly to the commerce.”
Gemma was then transferred to a sister studio in Philadelphia after a number of years of working in Florida. After tattooing in a tough neighborhood of Philadelphia for a while, Gemma moved to Worcester, and began his personal tattoo store in 2009.
He tattooed at his store for 9 years, however the stresses of sustaining a enterprise in a historic constructing and taking care of his workers made it in order that “artwork was not enjoyable, it was work,” he mentioned.
Gemma mentioned he realized at that time that he wanted a change, so he moved to San Diego and did slightly “soul looking,” after a bike accident put him out of labor for a number of years.
“One factor led to a different — I had a pair Island pals who informed me in regards to the place in Oak Bluffs. All the pieces simply appeared to click on into place from the day I checked it out,” Gemma mentioned.
After working arduous to get the studio shipshape and accommodate the well being and constructing division necessities, Gemma mentioned he constructed a “good rapport” with city officers, particularly as soon as they noticed the within. “They lastly got here to take a look at the store, and proper once they regarded on the place, they informed me how stunning it was,” Gemma mentioned.
The store is called after Oliver Perry, higher identified by his moniker Johnny Seaview. Perry was a beloved Island salt who tended bar on the previous Seaview Lodge in Oak Bluffs, lengthy earlier than my time.
Gemma mentioned he first met Seaview in 2009, and his total outlook on life modified. The zest for all times proven by Seaview’s rip-roaring punchlines and spontaneous philosophical orations impressed Gemma a lot that he determined to pay respect to him. “It’s Seaview property, and pays homage to the unbelievable character that was Johnny Seaview,” Gemma mentioned.
Though he experiments with all kinds of stylistic components and tattooing strategies, Gemma mentioned he needs his tattoos to be daring and distinctive.
“I’m not a lot of a photorealism man. I believe outlines and clear shapes make for distinct goodness,” he mentioned, and added, “You’ll be able to inform a tattoo is completed correctly from 20 toes away, and it appears to be like higher the nearer you get to it — that’s how tattoos must be.”
As soon as Gemma will get extra embedded within the Island artwork group (and COVID restrictions loosen up), he mentioned, he’s hoping to have world-class artists from throughout come to his studio to collaborate and create artwork.
“If somebody is ready for a super-traditional Japanese-style tattoo, I might have somebody are available in and do a visitor spot for per week or two,” he mentioned.
With such a wide range of clientele on-Island, Gemma mentioned he has loved working with completely different types and with completely different consumer preferences.
“In case you do a tattoo the proper means, you’ll all the time like it,” Gemma mentioned. “And when tattoo outlets are completed the proper means, they increase the economic system and strengthen the artwork group. I can’t wait to be a landmark on the Island, and preserve placing out good tattoos.”