Since Authentic Art Tattoo Studio first opened in April, owner Jordan Epstein has strived for his costumer-friendly, single-artist tattoo shop located at 527 East Liberty Street to serve as a fresh and original outlook on an ancient art form.
Epstein said his promise to put the people before the competition in Ann Arbor with his 1,000 square-foot shop has proven successful thus far in his first few months of business.
Born and raised in Ann Arbor, Epstein said he gives a warm welcome to his neighborhood clientele and invites potential clients to focus on specialty artwork and the “innovative and cleaner feel” that his shop offers.
“Most say that my shop looks different than most,” Epstein said. “We go for a different feel and a different look. It’s not your average tattoo shop.”
Inspired by a Floridian tattoo shop, Epstein created a parlor without “flash” — popular prints put up on the walls by artists to serve as references or provide tattoo ideas — giving the shop a more inviting ambiance and cleaner appearance.
“I’ve visited many different shops throughout our country and internationally, with many various layouts and artists,” Epstein said. “But I’ve committed to keeping a solid focus on customer interaction and goal to provide a higher standard in customer service.”
Epstein added he plans on hiring more artists but wants to stay true to his views and practices of personalization so his shop can build lasting relationships and create custom pieces for his customers.
According to Epstein, his current artist Cory Torrans — who has sixteen years of experience and has won multiple awards for his work — will help build the shop’s clientele.
“Corey consistently performs with quality, specialty work,” Epstein said. “Because of that, he has loyal clients.”
As far as competition, Epstein said he recommends people find a shop that best fits them and their needs, even if it isn’t Authentic Art.
“Look around and see what you like, check it out, and see if you like what you see and the feeling you get — and that says it all,” he said.
Epstein said he opened his store in Ann Arbor due to the demand he had seen in the area for a tattoo parlor similar to his, adding that he has branded his business as one that focuses on customer feedback.
“Feedback — that’s what sets us apart,” Epstein said. “We are different from what people are used to. We are dedicated to our customers. The point is not to point out different shops, just start our own and do what we want to do. Those able to start businesses in the tattooing community run things differently. There’s no need to conform or ask for permission to be who we are.”
Leo Zulueta, owner of Spiral Tattoo on Packard Road, said cleanliness is instrumental in attracting customers, and is something Authentic Art has ensured to be a priority.
“I’ve been in the business 30 years,” Zulueta said. “It is important that most parlors are clean to serve public.”
Dana Forrester, owner of Lucky Monkey Tattoo Parlour on South Ashley Street, said the quality of service is more important than anything else in the tattoo business. She added that she is skeptical of the variety of tattoo shops in town because she has seen so many come and go.
“One has to be up to the caliber of stellar shops that are already here in Ann Arbor,” Forrester said. “There is already a lot of high caliber of tattoo shops here. Anyone coming in better have talent if they want to be successful because clients expect a lot. We’ve seen a lot of business come and go that were not up to par.”