Platinum Ink is Tustin's first tattoo shop
TUSTIN – The city's first tattoo shop, Platinum Ink, has opened in Old Town.
Co-owners Matthew Rios and Cecilia Hernandez began leasing the 777-square-foot shop in February. A grand opening is being held from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday at the shop, 692 El Camino Real.
Platinum Ink performs tattoos, permanent cosmetics and piercing. Until recently, only permanent cosmetics and piercing were allowed in Tustin.
Though they are the first tattoo shop, Rios and Hernandez say the city has been helpful and they haven't had any problems since they opened.
Platinum Ink hasn't been advertising, but Rios and Hernandez say plenty of people have stopped by to check out their shop next to the Encore Dinner Theater and Club.
Before opening Platinum Ink, Rios worked as an airbrush artist for nearly 30 years in Nevada, putting his artistic skill to use on trucks and motorcycles. He was known by his artist name, Shadow, around Las Vegas. Hernandez is an esthetician.
Rios and Hernandez both waited until their late 30s to get tattoos. Hernandez was 38 when she got a cross drawn above her shoulder blade. She went with her sister, Adriana Hernandez, to the tattoo parlor, but ended up first in the chair.
Rios was 36 when he got his – a pin-up girl sketch that graces his left calf. He waited two years longer than his mother, who got her first tattoo at age 34.
"Then it went downhill from there," Rios jokes.
His second piece is a work-in-progress on his back. In January, he added to the collection by tattooing a pin-up girl riding a tattoo machine on the other side of his calf.
"I wanted it to look like my sketching page," he says of his tattoos.
Rios was in a car accident in November 2006. After a year of working through rehab, he lost his right leg in August 2007.
In June 2010, Rios and his prosthetic won the Hot Legs competition at the Tustin Street Fair and Chili Cook-off.
He moved back to Santa Ana to be near his parents, aunts and uncles. Two years ago, some old friends reintroduced Rios to Hernandez, the girl who kissed him once in the sixth grade. The 43-year-olds are celebrating their 2-year anniversary. They are not married.
Rios and Hernandez opened an art gallery together in Santa Ana but it didn't do well financially and closed in January, one year after it opened. Rios now hangs his art on the walls and shelves of Platinum Ink.
"Even if I was super successful and had money coming out of my ears I think I would want to work and being able to do what I love is just the icing on the cake," Rios says.
The City Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing tattoo shops in November.
Previously, nothing existed in the city zoning code to allow tattoo businesses to open. The council examined its ordinance after the city of Hermosa Beach lost a lawsuit in 2010. An appeals court had ruled that body art is protected by the First Amendment, reports state, and Tustin's policy had been similar to the policy in Hermosa Beach.
Platinum Ink has space for five tattoo stations. Right now, three are spoken for by Rios, Andrew Arteaga and Mike Vanderhoof. Sammy Covarrubias may join the team in a few months, Rios said.
Arteaga is good with calligraphy, and Vanderhoof specializes in freestyle and a different style of calligraphy. Karla Guevara is an apprentice esthetician.
Jason Jeong, 18, of Irvine stopped by Platinum Ink recently. Jeong will be getting his first tattoo – the words, "The dice is cast," written on his chest in calligraphy. His friend Brandon Kim, 18, came along for support.
Getting a tattoo might be painful, says night manager Randy Jackson, but "it's the worst best feeling."
"There are a lot of good stories behind every tattoo," Hernandez said. "Tattoos are meaningful and symbolic these days."
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