Electric Tattoo: Love of art and ‘forbidden fruit’ drives Asbury Park studio – Asbury Park Press

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ASBURY PARK -For Robert Ryan, Mike Schweigert and Tom Yak, owners of Electric Tattoo in Asbury Park, getting their business off the ground at their first location was not what they expected.

We ended up opening our first location in Bradley Beach, but it was not a smooth start by any means, Ryan said. Unfortunately, the town itself was not too thrilled at the thought of having a tattoo shop in their vicinity. Even though tattoo shops had been around at that point for some time, people were painting a bad picture of our intentions there. They believed that our establishment would attract the wrong people and would give the town a bad name.

On the upside, we stuck it out and hung in there, and eventually, we persevered and we were able to open up that first location in Bradley Beach in 2007, Ryan said.It was kind of funny that the whole thing was in the news and people were talking about it constantly. In the end, we got some good notoriety out of it and by the time we opened, there were a good deal of people that knew where we were and that we existed.

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Electric Tattoo, an Asbury Park-based business offers tattoos of all types. Tattoo artist Evan Lindemann works on the arm of a customer. Asbury Park, NJFriday, March 26, 2021 (Photo: Doug Hood)

For all three owners of Electric Tattoo, their first interaction with tattoos all happened at a very young age.

Being a young teen and walking by these places, you have some idea that its not an environment for kids, but in a way, you are intrigued by it and it piques your curiosity, Schweigert said.You are looking through the window and wondering, 'What is this place and how did it get there?'

I used to walk by this place in Point Pleasant on the way to grammar school, Ryan said. I always felt like there was a magnetism to this tattoo shop and you know you are not supposed to go in, but you have to anyway.Anything that has that temptation will always draw you to it. Its all about tasting the forbidden fruit.

As both Ryan and Schweigertstarted getting into tattoos, both were also dabbling in skateboarding and hardcore/punk rock music that were part of the underground scene and met each other through hanging out with similar crowds.

"Tattoos were a big thing in that world, Ryan said.When I got to that age of getting tattoos, I started making contacts with people who are a part of that world and had that familiarity to their personality when it came to their interest in tattoos.

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Electric Tattoo, an Asbury Park-based business offers tattoos of all types. Co-owner Mike Schweigert works on a client in the shop.Asbury Park, NJFriday, March 26, 2021 (Photo: Doug Hood)

Everything was natural, Ryan said. We would be hanging out in small crowds and we would spot each others tattoos from across the room and be really interested as to what the tattoo was about and what kind of overall meaning it had to that particular person.The art of tattooing just brought us all together.

Schweigert started as an art student going to school in Savannah, Georgia. When Schweigert was in the middle of getting his first tattoo there, the artist tattooing him knew he was a student, so he talked to Schweigert about drawing tattoos himself.

"After giving it much thought, I decided I wanted to become a tattoo artist, Schweigert said. When I was learning to tattoo, the first tools I had to work with included pencils, markers, paint brushes and watercolor paint.When working with a pencil, I would yank the eraser off because I knew I couldnt make mistakes, which was the same as the actual process of tattooing.

I ended up failing art in school because I was so involved with the tattooing at that time, Schweigert said. Tattooing and art were just too different from each other and I had to choose one over the other, so I chose tattooing.When I applied my first tattoo, I just knew that was what I wanted to do.

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Electric Tattoo, an Asbury Park-based business offers tattoos of all types. A sample of the artwork done in house that customers can choose from for tattoo work. Asbury Park, NJFriday, March 26, 2021 (Photo: Doug Hood)

From 1994 to 2004, all three men were working in a Point Pleasant tattoo shop for ownerGene Bernardo. After he passed away, they went their separate ways and worked different tattoo jobs by themselves. But they decided they should open their own shop after the realization that they could be more successful as a trio rather than operating on their own.

After operating in Bradley Beach for sevenyears, Electric Tattoo was getting more popular. Theyneeded more space to accommodate additional employees and growing clientele.

Asbury Park was really starting to come back at the point that we were looking at other locations, Yak said. One thing we really recognized about Asbury Park was that it really is a breeding ground for people with creative and artistic talent. This space of Asbury Park is built on the art and music scene from '70s, '80s and '90s and what we have now.We really saw a bit of ourselves in this location, especially with the other businesses that were already here at the time we opened up in 2014.

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Schweigert, Ryan and Yak seek to offera one-of-a-kind experience for the customers that come into their shop.For them, its not just about getting a tattoo and then going on their way. Its a combination of things an endless choice of designs that speak to every individual customer, and how those designs convey the customers way of expressing himor herself.

Its important that, if you are in a community that is very artistic, that you should lend your own contribution to keep the community thriving in that way, Yak said. The best way to do that is to understand that youre not just here to live off of the people frequenting other stores.You are here to become a part of that artistic tradition through hard work and maintaining that atmosphere of creative self-expression.

Electric Tattoo, an Asbury Park-based business offers tattoos of all types. Co-owner Mike Schweigert works on a client in the shop.Asbury Park, NJFriday, March 26, 2021 (Photo: Doug Hood)

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As with many businesses during COVID-19, Electric Tattoo closed their doors at the time of the pandemic.

We were closed for four months, Schweigert said.It was tough on us, but we got through it and reopened in June. After being back in business, we focused on being clean and safe by throwing away all of our disposable items and, with any items that are not disposable, we thoroughly sterilize them. We operate with single-use needles and everyones skin is prepped and cleaned. Every tattoo station is properly spaced apart and those areas are also disinfected after use. We cover all of our bases and make sure that everyone inside the shop is safe at all times.

As far as Electric Tattoos future plans, they believe they are always evolving.

We feel like we get better with every tattoo we do and we think we are growing out the business artistically and maintaining the ambiance, Yak said.We want to keep the ball rolling and do everything right.

Location: 605 Lake Ave., Asbury Park

Phone: 732-988-8882

Website: http://www.electrictattoonewjersey.com

Hours: noon to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays; noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

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Electric Tattoo: Love of art and 'forbidden fruit' drives Asbury Park studio - Asbury Park Press

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