A few years ago, opening a tattoo studio on leafy, dining-focused Hutt Street would have been tough-going. But the tree-lined strip on the city's edge has been evolving, with a hard-to-define identity that's opening the area up to other kinds of businesses. And Day One Tattoo co-owner and artist James Cooper says he couldn’t feel more at home.
“I feel like this is my community in a way,” says Cooper, who grew up a few blocks away in Parkside. “I feel privileged that I can add to the business community.”
The studio was previously on Glen Osmond Road; Cooper and co-owner and studio manager Karen Hubbert looked into several locations before moving to Hutt Street. “A lot of the time when we spoke [to landlords] on the phone, as soon as I said what I did, it was straight away ‘no deal’,” he says. “It’s hard to shake the stigma, but that’s something we’re actively trying to do [by] being on the high street where everyone can see us. We’re not hiding in back alleys anymore.
“The surrounding businesses have been really supportive,” Cooper continues, though admitting some local residents were sceptical. “Some of them have now met us, and their fears have been alleviated.
Day One moved in next to Muscavado at the close of last year, occupying one of three freshly redeveloped tenancies in the former Commonwealth Bank building. Concertina cafe windows and polished concrete floors hint that the architects may have envisioned another hospitality business in the space. But the airy, spacious site – somewhere between day spa and New York loft – works well for Day One.
With 15 years in the game, Cooper says he’s duty-bound to influence the culture – and preconceived notions – of tattooing for the better.
Organic finishes, soft furnishings and private work pods make for a calming atmosphere, and a welcoming street-level presence. “We want to change the customer experience,” Cooper says. “Getting tattooed can be pretty daunting – especially if it’s your first time, or you have to get undressed, so that’s something we put a lot of thought into.”
The layout doesn’t make great financial sense (private rooms limit the number of artists who can work per square metre), but client comfort trumps turnover. (Clients can sit and enjoy a tea or coffee and a bit of Netflix before their appointment.)
Artists in residence include Cooper, Joel Van Miltenburg, Jordon Best and Lily Munday. They favour rotary machines over the noisier coil, or “gun” style ones used traditionally. There’s also a room for guest artists – for the next two months this will be occupied by fine-line artist Lacey Dawn.
Tue to Sat 10am–4pm