Ouch! A reader asks why we’d cover a “dubious and dangerous” enterprise as Frequency Tattoo Company on Ridge. We rush to the defense of John Howie & his talented crew — and tattooed people everywhere (many we know and love).
Comment from Brian Faulkner submitted 2/29 9:21 pm:
I’ve been reading East Falls Local for the better part of a year now and I love the information and perspective it provides. That said, I was a bit troubled by this article, which I read in the print edition of your most recent issue. Diane Batalsky profiled Frequency Tattoo “artist” John Howie.
I’m sure that Mr. Howie does great work…but I find the presence of a tattoo shop in our hood to be both dubious and dangerous. As you are well aware, tattoos are still used to convey messages among criminals. For example, a tattoo of a teardrop under one’s eye represents that the wearer has killed someone!
While not all tattoos convey criminal messages, they have traditionally represented lifestyles and attitudes that have no business in East Falls. To add insult to injury, tattoo needles are notorious for spreading both hepatitis and HIV.
The big, beautiful parrot that Ms. Batalsky had tattooed to her leg is certainly a work of art, but it belongs on a traditional canvas and not on her body.
So, I was very confused when I saw this article…why would East Falls Local print something about a tattoo shop? Then a red light went off when I looked on the back page and saw an ad for Frequency Tattoo company. Is East Falls Local writing for Fallsers? Or have they become the mouthpiece of their advertisers?
Wow — so much here! Before I step aside and let Diane explain where her artwork belongs, allow me to chime in for East Falls Local:
Hello! I’m glad you’ve been enjoying our blog & publication, and I am sorry that Diane’s review of her experiences with a local business has troubled you. Your concerns, however, seem colored by pre-conceived notions about tattoos that, frankly, are terribly dated.
Really, I am kind of embarrassed for you, espousing these opinions in 2016. As one of our readers, I must assume you are an otherwise super-cool guy, and somehow missed the boat on tattoos. No worries, we’ll bring you up to speed!
Let’s talk about tattoos. Who has them these days? Ummmmm… EVERYONE?! I mean, I don’t (nor does Steve) but according to a Fox News report from 2014, 20% of voters — one in five Americans over 18 — has at least one tattoo. In the 26 – 40 age group, that percentage is 40%!! And by all estimates, the trend is only growing.
Far from being seedy joints for society’s outcasts, tattoo shops like Frequency are part of a massive $3 BILLION industry that includes state-of-the-art tools, custom inks, and sterilizing equipment to rival any medical clinic.
Did you mean to be condescending, when you put quotes around “artist” in reference to John Howie? Cause FYI, both John & David McCall have Fine Arts degrees — in fact, they first met as students at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. They’re each way experienced in various creative fields; both still paint & create art in addition to tattooing for a living — which they are spectacularly good at, btw. David is currently touring France as a guest artist at several shops around the country.
FUN FACT: Neither John nor David tattoos hate symbols, facial teardrops, “white power” insignias, etc if you’re wondering. A scroll down Frequency’s Instagram reveals *NO* gang signs but lots of hearts, flowers, birds… a pine cone… ooh! A dragon! And all the bones in the spine… A donut… A pineapple… A kitty!
Sure, some skulls and stuff too but I dunno, man. These images suggest artistic, imaginative customers — not criminals. Take my friend Diane, who wrote the blog post for us: she’s a middle-aged (sorry D!) Jewish advertising professional. Off the top of my head, my other friends with tattoos include a nurse, a doctor, a jewelry shop owner, a financial planner…
Still, prejudices like yours continue. Which is why we asked Diane to review her experience: to demonstrate for East Falls Local what it’s like to get a tattoo from the new shop on Ridge. We’d tag along and document the whole thing in pics & video, and make a cool blog post!
Our readers enjoy hearing about local business — Diane’s review was 100% honest, she has been thrilled with Frequency Tattoo and is delighted to tell the world. She even came into the city for the Tattoo Convention last month to help support the shop.
And so did we. Not because John paid us (he didn’t), but because he’s a talented local artist who owns both a home and a business here. And when a local shop like Frequency Tattoo looks good, East Falls looks good.
That’s really the bottom line, right?
East Falls Local exists because so much awesomeness was going on here, uncelebrated, that we had to scoop it up into a blog. Frequency Tattoo was one of the first local businesses on our radar — have you been there? It’s an amazing space, the opposite of every “tattoo parlor” stereotype.
How about a personal tour?! We’d love to introduce you to John and let him show you around his clean, modern shop. We’ll even treat you to a local meal as part of the deal! Whaddaya say?! We’d love to help change your mind, or even just broaden it a little, if we can. Email us, please, if you’re interested.
You can choose to look down your nose at a local business if you really want to, but what good does that do? Why not educate yourself on what’s really going on in our community, and help spread the word about good people doing cool stuff in East Falls.
PS: We do NOT take payment for our blog posts. Or rebuttals. But East Falls businesses do tend to support each other, which frankly is quite nice.