A tattoo can mean different things to different people. For some, it’s an artistic representation of some facet of themselves. For others, it’s a way to remember an important person or event. For still others, it’s a way to stick it to the man. Whatever the reason, Art and Soul Tattoo has got your back.
They’ve been serving the Kalamazoo area faithfully for eight years now, most of which has been under the guidance of Marty Webber. Webber bought the Portage location (120 E. Milham) in 2006 and recently expanded to a second location in Paw Paw at 238 E. Michigan Avenue.
Webber knew he wanted to pursue art as a living from the outset. He found his calling in the tattoo business when he came across a battered flyer sporting “tattoo flash” from tattoo supply company Spaulding and Rogers. “Flash” is a term used to describe generic tattoos a customer can request or base a design upon. Imitating the style, Webber began drawing tattoos for his friends to take into a parlor and have done.
It wasn’t long before an opportunity to start doing tattoos himself came along. “I decided to take my portfolio to the local shops, until someone was in need of an apprentice,” Webber said, who, like most artists, takes his work seriously. You can count on a good artist to put their all into their work and not to be too quick to judge, and that second quality comes in handy in this line of work. “I don’t consider any of the tattoos I have done as weird,” Webber told me. “They always mean something to the client and how they interpret it is based on an image that triggers the memory.”
He went on to tell me about some of the more interesting work he’s done. “I did, however, do the wish dragon from The Never-Ending Story on a tongue.” So fear not, dear reader: no matter how odd your idea might sound, Webber and his crew will treat you with nothing less than professional interest and respect. The operating philosophy is that a tattoo is a form of personal expression and that, no matter what it might seem like to an outsider, it means something to the person getting it permanently inked into their skin.
With that laid-back attitude and commitment to giving the client what they want, it won’t be a surprise to find that Art and Soul Tattoo continues to grow as the years tick by. If you’re interested in stopping in, Art and Soul accepts appointments and walk-ins at either location. Their website is currently under construction, but you can find them on Facebook in Portage and Paw Paw.
Brian Murray – Feature Writer