One of the groups most affected by business shutdowns are the tattoo artists. With tattoo parlors closed, artists are left with few ways to make money.
One tattoo parlor, Epic Ink Tattoo and Piercing in Edwardsville, shut down along with many others on Saturday, March 21.
Its owner, Trevis Stallard, said he and the rest of the shop’s artists have been losing money ever since.
“It’s upsetting. We’re losing out on a lot of clientele and bills need to be paid. It’s our livelihood for me and the other seven artists that work with me. We all have families and it’s kind of rough right now,” Stallard said. “I got all the rent bills and I got home bills too.”
Another artist at Epic Ink Tattoo and Piercing, Bradley Dyer, said that along with a lack of income, he simply misses being able to do his work.
“Well of course I’m not making money, but on the other hand I do enjoy tattooing, and it’s just strange that I’m not tattooing right now because I’ve been tattooing for seven years now,” Dyer said. “It’s just kind of sad that I don’t get to make tattoos and be with people and hang out in the shop like I normally do.”
Another parlor, Evermore Gallery in Edwardsville, has had artists experience similar issues. Artist and Manager of the shop Daniel Buie said tattoo artists are selling their art and taking on side jobs in order to try and earn money while they can’t work.
“A lot of people sell their art … [they’re] trying to stay creative and still make money that way. I think pretty much everybody in the shop’s got one or another side hustle when it comes to their art,” Buie said. “I know I’ve taken on a few extra handyman jobs, helping people out, doing stuff like that.”
Dyer said it’s important communities support their artists at a time like this.
“Support your local artists,” Dyer said. “We’re not essential, so if someone sees something online that they want to buy that they think is cool it would really help an artist out to purchase that piece of artwork if it resonates with you.”
Many tattoo parlors have been proactive about public health since before the shutdown. Though the official order for nonessential businesses to close didn’t come until March 20, both Epic Ink Tattoo and Piercing and Evermore Gallery had started only doing tattoos by appointment for a week before then.
Buie said he understands why tattoo parlors need to shut down because of possible contamination.
“We understand why it has to be done. Of all people, we understand cross contamination and everything, and how quickly that can go awry,” Buie said. “I know how people can be impatient but it’s really unsafe … If anybody’s tattooing right now, they should not be doing it.”
All the artists said that during self-isolation, they’re staying creative by continuing to practice their art through painting and drawing. Dyer said it works to keep him occupied.
“I like to paint. I use many different techniques of paint, like watercolor and acrylic. I’ve even used some oil pastels. Just things to keep my mind going and keep my hand moving,” Dyer said.
Stallard echoed Dyer’s remarks, and said his children are also keeping him busy through self-isolation.
“I’ve just been doing some oil painting, basically, a little a bit of sketching on an iPad. But that’s about it, my kids keep my busy. I’ve been fishing, taking them out, mushroom hunting, just taking them out to the woods or whatever we can to get away for a little bit,” Stallard said.
Epic Ink and Piercings and Evermore Gallery are just two businesses affected by the shutdown.
Many have been impacted by the shutdowns. According to illinois.gov, the state has seen over 500,000 unemployment claims from March 1 to April 4.
The state has promised to make accommodations for the rise in claims, including easing eligibility requirements, waiving the waiting week, and making it easier to apply for unemployment through the internet and phone calls.
Readers who want to learn more about either parlor can visit Epic Ink Tattoo and Piercing’s Facebook page or Evermore Gallery’s website. To learn more about what is being done about unemployment, visit Illinois’s website.