Speakeasy tattoo artists put work on walls, not skin, for Friday’s art show

Meghan Frick

Instead of putting their artwork on skin, the artists of Speakeasy Tattoo Co. and others displayed their talent on more traditional backdrops Friday night.

Speakeasy owner Greg Kinnamon and other tattoo artists from the shop displayed original work at downtown Boone’s Shear Shakti. Two Charlotte artists — Thomas Michael of 510 Expert Tattoo and Mike French of Blood, Sweat and Tears — contributed as well.

Shear Shakti owner Charlotte Baxter usually holds the show at the salon for Michael, a childhood friend who came to Chapel Hill from Liverpool, England. This year, she added local talent to the mix.

“Charlotte has Thomas Michael every year do an art show and last year he asked if we wanted to be a part of it,” Kinnamon said.

Kinnamon is no stranger to reaching out to the community with his tatoo shop.

Through Speakeasy, he hosts the annual Tattoos for Schools Fundraiser. Customers can get a shamrock tattoo for $10 and all funds benefit elementary school art programs.

“I really appreciate the community aspect that Greg has,” Baxter said of Kinnamon, who is from Boulder, Colo. “He’s not been here forever, he’s definitely not a local and he’s made his thumbprint and done so much for everybody.”

Senior anthropology major Michael Story stopped by Friday’s art show to see artwork from his friend Anthony French — a Speakeasy tattoo artist and Mike French’s son.

“I would like to buy Anthony French’s original ‘Gypsy Woman’ because she is just the sexiest thing I have ever seen,” Story said.

Story has had work done by both French and Kinnamon and referred to Speakeasy as one of the best tattoo shops in western North Carolina.

“If you’re going to get something on your body, then collect a piece of art,” he said. “Don’t try to bargain. It’s going to be something you’re investing money into for the rest of your life. That thing is on you for the rest of your life, so why not get the best thing that you can get?”

Kinnamon said he’s grateful to own his shop in a growing college town, where students are discovering “something new every day that kind of blows them away.”

“When they discover Speakeasy, I think it’s another one of those days for them where they’re like, ‘Wow, I did pick the right school. This is a cool place to go to school,'” he said. “There’s plenty of things to do in town and it’s one of those nice things about Boone. There’s all these hidden secrets and gems everywhere.”

The artwork from Friday night that was not sold will continue to hang at Shear Shakti for the next two months, Kinnamon said.

Story: MICHAEL BRAGG, Senior A&E Reporter