GALLIPOLIS — Through the end of 2015, a local tattoo shop is showing its support for cancer survivors by offering free nipple reconstruction, eyebrow and cancer-related scar cover-up tattoos, at no charge.
Envy Ink owner Joshua LaBello said these types of services, historically performed by doctors or nurses, are relatively new to the tattoo industry.
“It makes sense that people with an art background should start taking this on,” LaBello said. “We’re getting to a place in society now where tattoos and tattoo shops, and the culture, are more accepted and more integrated. So, it’s not so crazy to walk into a tattoo shop to get your eyebrows done.”
Scar cover-up is not a new service at Envy Ink. LaBello first started because he saw it as a challenge and has since covered everything, from self-harm scars to burn scars, with artwork. This type of cosmetic work performed by tattoo artists, LaBello said, has helped push tattooing into the mainstream.
When it comes to tattooing nipples or breast scars, LaBello said he has seen a variety of people who can benefit from tattooing.
“Some people have the breast reconstruction with no nipple and we can completely paint it on with tattooing. Some people have the nipple reconstructed from skin pulled from elsewhere, and we’re basically just coloring it in to be more natural,” LaBello said. “Some people have a very slight scar and others have a very, very thick scar. There are other options for tattooing other than just creating a nipple. Sometimes it’s still not covering enough, if it’s just a nipple over the scar. So we can do, depending on what they want, floral tattoos or some other design to cover up the scar in a way that accents the body.”
Already specializing in bad tattoo cover-ups, LaBello’s reasoning behind tackling scar cover-ups was the challenge and he has personally witnessed, over the years, the positive effect his work has had on his customers.
“It’s always been very gratifying to cover a tattoo that was preventing someone from reaching their potential in some way, such as simply wearing a bathing suit or landing a job they wanted,” he said. “Scars are just a higher level of that because there’s sometimes a lot of emotional scarring, as well as physical, tied up in it.”
LaBello’s history in tattooing started with a love of art. After dabbling in other art-related fields, such as comic book illustration, LaBello attempted tattooing and decided it was the route he wanted to go. With a portfolio of his artwork in hand, LaBello found a tattoo shop willing to teach him. Eventually, he not only learned how to tattoo, but took over the shop.
“That’s how I came to own Envy Ink,” LaBello said.
And Envy Ink is a family affair. LaBello’s brother, Michael, is also a tattoo artist at the shop.
“We’ve been competing against each other as artists since he was born,” Joshua said.
Michael’s specialty is creating original designs for customers.
“We’re both always experimenting and dabbling in other styles,” Joshua said. “We’re constantly learning and we love our job. Most tattoo artists have one style. We really fear no style. Experimenting with styles makes us much more well-rounded artists.”
The LaBello brothers recently welcomed artist Gerry Enrico to the team. Enrico, an award-winning, world-traveled artist is finishing up his apprenticeship at Envy Ink to add tattoo artistry to his already impressive artist resume.
“He brings a lot to the company and we’re really happy to have him,” Joshua said. “I don’t want to hire people who are just in this for their infatuation with the tattoo culture. I want to recruit true artists and then teach them how to apply beautiful art to skin.”
The shop also stands out from others for utilizing a topical numbing procedure when tattooing.
“It’s not about someone being a sissy,” Joshua said. “If they sit still for us, we can get it done in fewer sessions. We can get stronger, straighter lines for them. It’s just all-around good for everyone.”
In addition to their tattooing services, Envy Ink also sells a special line of shirts and hoodies, and regularly holds live comedy and music events.
Envy Ink is one of the newest members of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce.
For more information call (740) 441-8282, visit www.envyinktattoo.com, follow them on Facebook and Instagram or stop by the shop located at 862 2nd Ave., Gallipolis.
Michelle Miller is executive director of the Gallia County Chamber of Commerce.