It’s Friday the 13th and people are waiting to get a tattoo to commemorate the day. The place is Gallery 21 in Downtown Fullerton, the tattoo is a black spider, the price is $100 for an image roughly the size of a business card. Having started at 11 in the morning, the artist has about ten clients served at 6:00 pm and people are still walking through doors.
This date has become a significant to counter culture and the tattoo industry. From classic horror movies to black cats these factors have contributed to the long embraced idea that there is bad luck associated with this specific spot on the calendar; this one also lands in October making it that much more special. Think Ouija board on Halloween.
The normal sight of people lining up outside a shop is not the case here. Carlos, Oather to most people, and owner of the shop handles his clients through social media. The special was advertised on his Snapchat and he scheduled people on a first come first serve basis. Along with that people are coming in and out of the shop to see if they can get a spot in line. Those fortunate were told to return at a later time, most were turned away due to a full schedule.
Client and friend of the artist Alex said he came in to visit his old friend and just happened to find it perfect timing that he came in when another client was late and took the spot to get a spider he’s been wanting for a while. He got his first tattoo at 19 and hasn’t stopped since. With large portions of his body marked, he found room for his new insect friend near his right elbow.
Thelma and Jose, a couple who were referred to the shop by a friend, both marked their middle finger for $80 total. Their symbol of love marked in an uncommon place parallels the feeling of this special day to those daring to play with this traditionally unlucky day.
The shop which is located next to Max Bloom’s Cafe Noir has the atmosphere of a college hangout with people sitting in different rooms waiting for their turn on the chair. Televisions playing shows in one room, loud music in others, and a lobby full of people on their phone or enjoying a beer they brought themselves, it’s like a Friday night house party.
For Oather, it’s all business. Stopping for the occasional cigarette, he continues carving spiders into his clients embracing requests for variations on the design or a different small design.
When asked why he chooses to go through so many clients in one day for a low price, he said “it’s a good way to advertise your work. Some people don’t understand that a small tattoo can mean so much to a client. Some artists don’t understand that even a small tattoo can show so much detail. It’s a way to get your work out there.”
The shop, which is his version of giving back to those artists who come from humble beginnings like his, doubles as an art hangout for aspiring artists.
Gallery 21 is located on 210 N. Malden Ave. in Fullerton and is open from 12-11 p.m.
With Art Night being held every Monday and open for Fullerton’s Art Walk on the first Friday of every month, he invited the public to experience art they wouldn’t come across on a regular basis.