There’s a shortage of qualified tattoo artists in Newfoundland. In St. John’s, any place worth going has a wait list of up to 2 years, and while this a good sign of the interest in tattoos here, it’s not so great if you have a special moment you want to commemorate with ink. Kind of a buzzkill, but not if Danny Williams of Carbonear has his way.
Danny is local in the blood sense, proudly conceived in Conception Bay, but by the time he made his appearance in the world, his parents had relocated to Toronto, where he grew up. He trained under old school tattoo artist Beachcomber Bill at Beachcombers on Queen West, and talks about Bill frequently over our chat.
The customer service oriented, “work till the clients are all served, even if you’re here till midnight” values Bill taught him are quite evident in his practice today. His goal is to have the shop able to do quality walk in service, and as of now he’s whittled a 6-month wait time down to 6 weeks.
How did he do it? Finding good apprentices, such as James Brown, and “working harder.” He’s quite open about the fact that he pretty much lives at his shop. Once I saw it, I wanted to live there too, in the scarlet red studio stuffed with great art, eclectic antiques, and funky furniture.
I felt like I had entered an alternate dimension where Tony Montana (ICYMI: The guy from Scarface) had opened a tattoo shop, and Jack White was chilling behind the desk. Opulent, hip, and relaxed all at the same time, it’s unlike any other shop I’ve ever been in.
Danny returned home 5 years ago when his mom was sick, and though she has passed, he has stayed, and this is the result of 3 years of his heart and soul. Also on display are the steam punk style tattoo machines he builds himself.
Sharing a name with the former premier, with an apprentice named after the godfather of soul, it is no surprise that when I compliment his vintage car outside, he tells me about the other one he’s fixing up, a Lincoln that some guys at the car club tipped him off to because it might have once been Joey Smallwood’s.
Danny just seems to have interesting luck like that, and says he may run for mayor of Carbonear yet. Till then, he’ll be in the shop, which is something to remember if long wait times are leaving you short on patience.
Von Stytch Studios is located at 110 Columbus Dr., Carbonear