Behind the Scenes: Long Street Collective, Downtown’s newest ink spot, is about much more than skin art

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
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From the April 18, 2013 edition

The Tuesday I visited the weeks-old tattoo shop downtown called Long Street Collective, new neighbor to B1 Bikes and Spoonful Records, it was the birthday of Gregory Lahm, the shop’s tattoo apprentice. They weren’t doing much to celebrate that day, the group of four informed me, because they had a “Twin Peaks”-themed party for Lahm on Sunday. The shop’s owner, Andy Johnson, had dressed up as the eye-patch crazy train Nadine.

You probably were not invited to that party (bummer, right?), but you are to this one: Every Wednesday the shop stays open until 9 or 10 p.m. for Art Night, where anyone can bring art supplies and just hang out with the members of the collective and make things amid the Victorian apothecary decor.

“I think it’s important to have a weekly thing where we all get together to create art,” said Johnson of his Long Street Collective, which includes Lahm, tattoo artist Phil DeAngulo and store manager Angie Redmond.

That collaborative spirit trickles to the basement of the shop, where a screenprinting studio is being set up that will, starting in May, print a monthly design of an art piece created by the four members of Long Street. They’ll sell T-shirts ($8-$10) and prints of the tag-teamed artwork.

New artists’ work will rotate through the shop’s walls every couple months. The group has tried hard to design the space so it’s inspiring for them but unintimidating for passers-by, including those who may forever remain a tattoo virgin.

“I always hated that. That, ‘I’m a badass tattoo artist’ thing,” Johnson said. “We’re just art geeks that want to draw on people.”

Whatever you call the four-person strong collective — art geeks, co-workers, heavy metal heads, tattoo artists, collectors of macabre oddities (the store’s framed Ouija board is from 1917 and Redmond found it at an auction for $5) — the most appropriate description for them seems to just simply be “friends.”