Since opening its doors more than two years ago, owner and tattoo artist Tony Mindeguia, 24, and tattoo artist Canyon Webb, 26, said it was the right decision for the tattoo shop to be located in Sparks.
“We wanted to come to Sparks and get away from downtown,” Mindeguia said about the tattoo shops that line Virginia Street in downtown Reno. “We wanted to come here and focus on art and be our own entity.”
“We decided to kind of fly under the radar, and it’s really worked,” Webb said. “Most of our business is word of mouth and we’re really happy about that.”
Mindeguia, who graduated from Sparks High School in 2002, decided to open Deep Ink because getting into the tattoo business was something that felt natural to him, especially since receiving his first tattoo at the age of 16. He said that his passion for art and tattooing is what made him decide that opening the shop was the right thing to do.
Webb also said that he got his first tattoo at the age of 16 and deciding to become a tattoo artist also felt right for him as a career path. That is why on the first day that Deep Ink opened its doors, Webb walked in and asked Mindeguia for an apprenticeship.
Mindeguia said that Webb fit right in and has been doing good work since he started.
“I wouldn’t let anyone work here if I didn’t want to be tattooed by them,” Mindeguia said, adding that the shop specializes in custom tattoos and portraits.
Employing Webb has also been a help to Mindeguia because now there is an extra set of hands to help keep the shop clean and spotless. Mindeguia said it is not easy to open a tattoo shop and that cleanliness is a top priority at Deep Ink.
“There are a lot of things you need to do to make it a healthy environment to tattoo in,” Mindeguia said. “We take a lot of pride in having a very clean shop.”
Webb said that they clean the shop for two hours every morning before opening at noon and that they often receive compliments on it. Mindeguia said that cleanliness should be the first thing someone who wants a tattoo should look for in a shop because a dirty environment can cause a tattoo to become infected.
“The health department has raised the bar to make sure that shops stay clean,” Mindeguia said. There are a few things customers can see that will tell them if a tattoo shop is clean, Mindeguia said, such as dust in the corners and whether or not tables are wiped down and wrapped.
He also said that most times other sanitary procedures, such as autoclave sterilization of instruments, is done in the back of the shop where customers might not see it but that it is a requirement for tattoo artists.
In addition to passing strict health department standards, Mindeguia has to pass a slew of building code inspections as well as police and fire inspections before opening the shop’s doors.
“It can be a pretty overwhelming process,” Mindeguia said, adding that they now have a clientele that includes people from the police and fire departments as well as Nevada Highway Patrol.
Once the hurdles of opening a business were taken care of, both Mindeguia and Webb were able to focus on their art.
“The main focus is to do something we love to do,” Webb said.
“We’d rather be doing good art than making money,” Mindeguia said.
In addition to custom tattoo and highly detailed portraiture work, Mindeguia and Webb have a collection of custom-painted art that can be purchased at the shop.
“Canyon just did a Bob Marley portrait tattoo and the guy bought the oil painting as well,” Mindeguia said.
Mindeguia said that getting a piece of permanent artwork can cost a minimum of $60, but added that if the tattoo is very tiny they will probably work with the customer and adjust the price. He added that the average price of a portrait tattoo is $150 and that custom tattoos can range in price.
“If it is a bigger piece it is usually priced by the hour, which is $80 to $100,” Mindeguia said. “There is an old saying ‘Good tattoos aren’t cheap and cheap tattoos aren’t good.’ ”
Making sure they stay in the business of good tattoos, Deep Ink’s prices are comparable to the other tattoo shops in northern Nevada. Deep Ink has also been able to build a clientele that not only includes people in law enforcement but also first-time tattoo seekers as well as people who are very used to the process of getting “inked.”
“We want to change the stereotype,” Webb said, adding that tattoos are not only for sailors and convicts anymore but have become an accepted artform.
“Both of our dads are old school, traditional people,” Mindeguia said, adding that his father comes from Spain and Webb’s father is from England. “Now, they’re not covered, but they have tattoos.”
“They understand the art now,” Webb said.
Mindeguia said that understanding the art has helped his dad understand the way people stereotype him. Now, Webb said, his dad gets defensive of his son when people try to judge him because of the tattoos.
“It’s changing a lot,” Mindeguia said. “Tattoos are more mainstream now.”
Mindeguia also said that Deep Ink likes to help the community and that both he and Webb are involved in and even volunteer for area charities.
“We like doing charitable causes,” Mindeguia said. “We just did a fundraiser for Jerry’s Kids, and we donate to pit bull rescue groups and animal shelters.”
Whether someone is looking for a custom tattoo or an expertly detailed portrait, both Mindeguia and Webb said they specialize in realistic artwork but will work with a client to make sure that the tattoo is exactly what they want.
For more information on Deep Ink and to view artist portfolios, visit the shop at 2196 Victorian Ave. in Sparks, go to www.deepinktat2.com or call 356-8282.