November 29, 1998
Local Florida Newspaper
Oldsmar artist’s designs stand the test of time
By EILEEN SCHULTE TIMES STAFF WRITER
About two weeks ago Oldsmar’s first tattoo parlor quietly opened next to Hennessey’s Food & Spirits on Forest Lakes Boulevard.
Rita Diehl of the Oldsmar Chamber of Commerce and Oldsmar Mayor Jerry Beverland say it’s the first such establishment in Oldsmar. The owner of Arty Joe’s Skin City, John Hashey, 40, said the community has been “pretty receptive” to his business. “There’s been no problem getting the license,” he said. Beverland, however, would not say what he thinks of the tattoo parlor. Finishing touches are still being added to the store, but already 30 to 40 people have walked into the shop with a patch of plain skin and walked out with a coyote or a cartoon character on the same spot. “I got a customer right now that got a wallpaper design, an intricate flower design,” Hashey said during a phone interview before Thanksgiving. The customer had cut a small piece of wallpaper she liked and asked to have the design permanently inked into her skin.
Hashey, who retired as a master sergeant in the Marines after 23 years of service, named his shop after his late brother, Arthur Hashey who passed away in 1991.
“The place is hopefully blessed by Arthur’s spirit,” Hashey said. Twenty years ago, Hashey, like many Marines, got a bulldog (the Marine mascot) tattooed on his arm. In the years since, he has added 40 tattoos to his arms, leg and back. He started tattooing others 15 years ago. For the past six years, he ran a studio in New York called Wild River Tattoos.
“It’s just artist expression,” Hashey said. “You pick up everything from everybody.”
Hashey has won several awards for his tattoo craftsmanship, including the top trophy in the Am-Jam, an iron and ink fest in New York. “I took best piece,” he said. “It was a peacock on a woman’s leg. It was the entire calf of her leg.” In Okinawa, Japan, this year he won for a piece that covered a man’s back. “It was a tribal eagle,” he said. The lady who wanted her wallpaper design imprinted forever on her skin is not unusual, Hashey said. He’s had stranger requests. But he likes to talk about the most popular designs he’s made. “Lots of tribal stuff, lots of portraits,” Hashey said. “I can put a portrait of somebody’s child like it was a photograph. I get a lot of that stuff.” Hashey lives in Oldsmar with his second wife, Lisa. He has three children, Mellissa, 1½, Megan, 5 months, and Michael, 16. His uncle owns Massachusetts Bay Clam in Oldsmar.
He said he runs a sanitized operation, has taken tattooing courses and is backed up by a local physician. Anyone entertaining thoughts of having a few drinks at Hennessy’s and stumbling next door to get a tattoo better think twice. Hashey will only tattoo someone who is sober. “It’s a legit family business,” Hashey said. “It isn’t all just motorcycles and roughneck people. We also do mothers. I’ve (tattooed) a 70-year-old.”