Inside Look: Spiritus Tattoo

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From the February 21, 2013 edition

Kat Marie Moya has been tattooing for 16 years, but working in a traditional tattoo shop wasn’t something that appealed to her. Instead, she used her private studio space at Junctionview as home for her chair, seeing customers on a very selective basis.

Tattooing, in recent years at least, acted as a complement to the explorations she was making in her fine art multimedia sculptures, which she’s shown across the United States.

“I had been thinking about what’s next for a long time,” Moya said. “I was hoping something would happen organically.”

“There’s nothing more organic than whiskey,” Moses chimed in.

Moses, also a tattoo and fine artist, was working out of New York at the time. Their idea: Open a tattoo shop in Columbus that allowed them to perfect their tattooing techniques and explore fine art collaborations on the side.

Going into business with someone they just met was, they admitted, risky to say the least. What sealed the deal was the pair’s similar outlook on how they would approach tattooing. The art of the tattoo would always come first. And if they didn’t like the customer’s piece, they wouldn’t do it.

“I firmly believe there’s no one artist for everybody,” Moya said. “I develop very personal relationships with my clients, and I want to do quality work. I think tattoo artists have every right to demand respect for the industry and the art, or we’re just cranking them out like a McDonald’s.”

The retail space beside Lucky 13 hair salon in Clintonville became available last fall, right around the time Moses and Moya were ready to get the ink flowing. It seemed like a sign —significant, considering both believe in the importance of the otherworld in the here and now (Moya is the brains behind the popular Day of the Dead event Por Vida). This shared interest even played a role in the naming of their new business.

Spiritus Tattoo opens this week. For Moya, the shop has already become a respite.

“It’s a different feeling in my head than working in fine art, which be a kind of violent space,” Moya said.

That’s not to say putting the shop together hasn’t been a lot of work.

“It’s like one big installation project,” Moses said.

See that “installation,” which includes new artwork by Moya (her “Hell is Real” series is worth a stop alone), Moses and others, at the Spiritus Tattoo opening this weekend. The partners promise much more art is to follow — on bodies and otherwise.