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Red Rocket Tattoo

Opening Hours
Today: 12–8pm
Tues:
12–8pm
Wed:
12–8pm
Thurs:
12–8pm
Fri:
12–8pm
Sat:
12–8pm
Sun:
12–6pm
Location
78 West 36th Street, 3rd Floor
Red Rocket Tattoo 1 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin

While ascending a few flights of stairs, I was entertained by the photos and artwork on the walls, care of Red Rocket. Once inside I was welcomed by a large studio with ten stations where artists and clients were chatting and creativity was happening.

"I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not drawing," owner Adam Hays shared with me. He went on to tell me that as a child, he was always drawing on his body. He had a particular fondness for washable tattoos and his mom was kind enough to do this with him. "It wasn't until I went to a water park and there was a big guy with tattoos on his body and I asked him how come his tattoos didn't come off in the water, that I realized there was more to tattooing." This was Adam's first exposure to the "real thing" and as they say, he never looked back.

The studio does not use traditional stencil to do their work. Rather, they cater to people who prefer custom designs. "Men and women come in with drawings or a concept and we work with them." The day I was there, Adam, and the guy he was working on, chatted with me about what they were doing on his arms. Over a period of time, Adam has been creating a mural on his skin. It is depicting a piece of Aztec history and includes a Mexican Indian princess. As the guy having his arm tattooed said to me, "There isn't anyone else that I would allow to be putting needles in me while giving an interview to you besides Adam." The level of concentration is intense, but Adam is able to keep that going while speaking to me. I was mesmerized watching as he dipped the needle into organic vegetable pigment based paints and then did his magic. Prior to beginning this lengthy project, Adam explained to me that working on a blank canvas, this time being arms, he drew with markers, free-hand, to ensure that his customer was pleased with the design. Only then did he begin the permanent tattoo process. Thus far, he has been working on both arms for almost a year, with two sessions a month.

Adam proudly informed me that he has made a name for himself - internationally, as he has been invited to practice his craft in Japan, South Africa and Europe. "You name it, I have probably tattooed there," he continued. I found a shelf filled with trophies awarded to Adam and his studio including a recent one for best black and white tattoo at the NYC Tattoo convention. Red Rocket has been on 36th Street since 1998, when tattooing was legalized in the city. Adam deliberately chose a midtown location, upstairs, because he did not want to attract the walk in traffic that is customary in the East Village. He prefers people who seek him out, admiring and recognizing the talent and quality of his work and that of the other artists in his studio.

Read more about tattoo shops of the Side Streets.

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Red Rocket Tattoo 1 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 2 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 3 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 4 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 5 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 6 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 7 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin
Red Rocket Tattoo 8 Tattoos Garment District Koreatown Midtown West Tenderloin

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