Bloomington tattoo shop revived next to campus

Katie Fata

ArtKore Tattoo, an old staple in the Bloomington-Normal tattooing scene, has come back to life just down the street from Illinois Wesleyan’s campus. The new-and-improved shop reopened on October 1 in a new spot at 716 E Empire St., tucked across from Constitution Trail. 

The original ArtKore ran for 12 years, from 2001 to 2013, and was housed in Uptown Normal among the tons of other local businesses packed in the circle. Owned by Steve McClintock, the shop briefly was known as North Street Tattoo and had a few long-time artists that resided at the shop, namely artists Walter Olivo and Alex Godair. The shop eventually closed its doors and all three artists moved to Illinois Tattoo Company in downtown Bloomington. 

Their new spot, across from Keg Grove Brewing Company and just down the street from Ames Library, is different from anywhere else the artists have been located in Bloomington-Normal because they’re no longer located in the hustle and bustle of either Uptown or Downtown. 

“This location is quiet and safe, and a comfortable setting for anyone who is getting their first or 50th tattoo,” ArtKore said. 

The new shop, co-owned by McClintock, Olivo and Godair has already seen an influx of old and new patrons in the week it has been open. 

Because the artists have been tattooing in the area for so long, loyal clients have followed them to their new shop. When the new shop was announced in September, supportive comments immediately rolled in. After less than a week, ArtKore has received glowing reviews from those who have been able to get in for a session. One five-star review called ArtKore “some of the best work you can find.”

Many IWU students have been tattooed by ArtKore’s artists and plan to move their business to follow their respective tattooers, including senior Isabel Sperry.

“Alex Godair has done three of my tattoos and I can’t wait to get in to have him tattoo me again,” Sperry said. 

According to Sperry and many other students, the artists at ArtKore are the key to why the shop’s support by locals is not surprising. 

“Everyone at ArtKore has tattooed someone I know and no one has been able to come up with anything bad to say. They’re all complete professionals and want to make their clients comfortable,” Sperry said.  

The tattoo parlor has set its minimum price for ink at $80. Appointments can only be made in-person, and deposits are required to make an appointment. Consultations are available and deposits for tattoos are cash or credit only. Piercings are not available at the new shop. 

The three full-time artists have different styles and those looking to get inked at ArtKore Tattoo should do their research beforehand. A quick look at their Instagram accounts show Olivo’s eye for black-and-white fine lines, Godair’s classic tattoo styles, and McClintock’s large colored pieces, but all three artists tattoo a variety of styles and sizes. 

Anyone who’s been tattooed at Illinois Tattoo Company while ArtKore’s artists were located there are also probably familiar with tattoo artist “Turbo.” ArtKore recently announced that “Turbo” will also make appearances at the trail-side shop. 

“We are all ecstatic to be working together, doing what we love. We look forward to nurturing a tattoo environment founded on art, friendship and a passion for what we do,” ArtKore Tattoo said.