Kate has been tattooing since 1971 in all styles whether custom or classic. She has worked with Sailor Jerry Collins of Hawaii, Don Ed Hardy, Jack Rudy, Bill Funk and many others. Very soon you’ll see her personal clothing line hitting the store.
Know more about her new apprentice, Art N Body, from the following interview.
Disha Singh: Can you take me through the evolution of Art N Body?
Shanghai Kate: Art N Body was conceived in the Buffalo region to give the public a new and better idea about tattooing. As tattooing becomes more mainstream, we felt there was a need to satisfy more mainstream clients who were not satisfied with the options they had in the past. Tattoo Shops have had a somewhat less than satisfactory image and there is room for improvement and we wanted to be the leader in that movement. By placing our shop in a suburban setting, we hope to draw clients that normally would not visit a traditional “tattoo shop” in an urban area, while still being located where tried-and-true tattoo clients would still visit.
Our goal was to offer the highest quality tattoos and piercings as possible. After all, if the quality of the work is substandard, sales would suffer. Along with the highest quality of work, we would offer the highest sterilization protocols. Our shop would exceed all local, state and Federal standards, as well as OSHA regulations. All artists would be fully licensed and would continuously attend health related seminars. Along with the tattoo and piercing services, we would offer a great number of tattoo-based clothing lines and accessories for our clients to purchase in an upscale retail environment. The store would also sell artwork by local artists of all kinds as well as music by local musicians.
Disha: What’s an ideal connection for you, between you and your client I mean?
Kate: To develop a harmonious long-term relationship while offering the highest artistic completion of their projects performed with the best state-of-the-art technological advances under the safest protocols known. We want to preserve the client’s vision while adhering to the body’s dictates for the best result over time. We want our clients to feel comfortable in a friendly atmosphere while maintaining a strong professional attitude.
Disha: You say you’ve “combined cutting-edge equipments and sterilization procedures with a comfortable, creative environment,” can you please detail it? For the benefit of our readers.
Kate: We have spent the first year of our growth investigation and pursuing the best hospital-style sterilization components to incorporate into our “clean room.” Our artists are well versed in all the latest protocols and study Universal Precautions on a routine basis. We spare no expense in keeping a store of single-service, preventative safeguards in the studio and our products for tattooing are the best, most investigated items on the market. Including our inks, needles, tubes, machines. We have our fingers on the pulse of what’s new out there and continue to purchase and grow with the best our industry has to offer. We spend time investigating the newest developments. At the same time, we don’t want our clients to feel they’ve entered a “hospital” or “clinic” . . . one look at our photos shows a relaxed and gorgeous interior geared toward fun and bright retail items. It’s a store where you can come to shop, search and learn. While we’re deadly serious about what we do, we don’t want to browbeat anyone into anything. This is a great business. We want to have fun.
Disha: Art N Body opened its doors one year back. Looking down the line, what are your hopes for the space and business?
Kate: We have so many great ideas to bring into fruition. We can’t let too much out of the bag but, while our first year in business has been fraught with lessons and paying dues, we think the worst of it is over. We believe in our shop and concept and what we want to do and we think the community will respond because we have some great things on board.
Disha: How do names like Ed Hardy, Jerry Sailor, Suicide Girls, etc. are associated with you.
ArtNBody: Some of the names you mention are directly linked to our shop because we have Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand working for us now and she spent the earlier part of her career working with Sailor Jerry, Ed Hardy and others. This is an incredibly personal connection, no other shop in the world can make that same boast. She is intimately involved with both of those names and she brings her own collection of images with her. And we expect to develop a Shanghai Kate clothing line in the future in the same grain as the aforementioned names. She also brings with her many personal stories and books . . . and we expect to include these in our future marketing. The other names are direct off-shoots of the very popular Hardy and Jerry empires. We do carry their line and we look to other cutting edge clothing to incorporate in the future.
Disha: There are various artists under one roof. Do you guys push each other to grow as artists? Or, be honest, you’re just too busy competing with each other?
ArtNBody: We very much push each other to grow and become better at what we do. We are not competitors. We believe that may have been the climate of the past, but we now live in an age of communication. Why would we harbor secrets or techniques to use only in our own little cubicle when we could all work more smoothly, more enthusiastically and more efficiently if we all share? Competition can lead to price gouging within the team, that leads to paranoia and turf guarding that leads to the sociopathic personalities we’ve all come to know and love in some of the less progressive shops. That is really OLD School and we want to be the wave of the future. Sharing creates fun creates money creates happy artists, happy clients and a wonderfully informed public.
Here, are the names of the crew members of Art N Body:
Shanghai Kate Hellenbrand, The Manager
Sarah Grabowski, Retail/Counter
Bill Robins, Chief Operating Officer
Check out our Image Gallery for some selected Tattoos from the great Tattoo artists of Art N Body!