JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WHAS11) – A local tattoo parlor is overcoming an old stigma about tattoo parlors by breaking down barriers, and replacing them with art.
"It's pretty rare to have a tattoo studio that's also a safe place for kids, especially with a name like Tattoo Machine Gun,” owner Rick Harlan said. “It doesn't sound that safe to a lot of people."
Tattoo parlor and safe space generally aren't two terms that go together, but Rick Harlan and Greg Mosier are trying to break a stereotype.
"When I first started the windows was lot of place where the windows were blacked out, and you couldn't see what was going on,” Greg Mosier said. “It was intimidating."
"People come in and they might see the Mohawk or the tattoos on Greg's face, or something, and they might be a little put off,” Harlan said. “Once you get to know us it's like hanging out with family."
Inspired by their own kids Tattoo Machine Gun became the first tattoo parlor in the nation to earn the SAFE PLACE designation – meaning teenagers in trouble can go there for help--and the employees must pass criminal background checks and receive special training.
"Having kids just makes you take life really seriously,” Mosier said.
Little did they know, a simple sign in the window would open up doors for the business.
"To see that sign in the window or online it assures the parents that they're not going to get a tattoo from someone who is going to put their child in danger,” Mosier said.
"People who wouldn't normally feel comfortable in a tattoo studio feel more comfortable in ours because of the safe place status,” Harlan said.
"It's cool to watch that wall melt around those people because they're like wow I had no idea,” Mosier said. “It's pretty cool. It breaks down a lot of barriers."
While the ink has yet to dry on their new location Harlan says one thing is for sure.
"We'll be the first and second tattoo studio safe place in the nation,” Harlan said.
Tattoo Machine Gun will be hosting a grand opening on Feb. 1 at their New Albany shop, and they're inviting the whole family to swing by even if you don't have any ink.