What’s black and white and red all over?
BELFAST— Joshua Ard, the only tattoo artist in Belfast and Permanent Expressions’ owner, has spent the last eight years honing his craft in the the basement space of the Masonic Temple building on Main Street. It was a unique layout, perfect for his small tattoo business, but hidden from the typical foot traffic. The time had come to make a change. With all of the shuffling of business locations going on in Belfast this past winter, Ard decided to lease the prominent second floor space above the Alexia’s Pizza. And now, no one can miss the giant “Tattoo” sign in the dramatic corner windows.
Ard first had to punch up the drab beige walls and floor-to-floor carpeting that the former tenant left with a more funky aesthetic. He chose to paint the entire parlor with red and black accents, along with tattoo memorabilia, junkyard artifacts, taxidermied animals and dozens of vintage photographs on the walls.
A handmade tattoo sign hangs in the new space, a carryover from the old shop.
“That sign has been photographed many times,” he said. “I didn’t even know that you can buy prints of it now.”
Ard, whose family has worked in the Masonic building for 120 years, now has a direct view of the building from his new space.
The shop also features Ard’s girlfriend’s business, Bettie Bang Clothing, run by Nicole Pomeroy, which offers retro, pinup, and rockabilly dresses and accessories, a type of clothing style you can’t get anywhere in the Midcoast.
Business has always been busy for Ard, but now, with the new space, people are coming in off the streets to check out what it looks like.
Even though his clients miss the familiarity of the old space, they are liking the expansiveness of the new space with all of the natural light that is now streaming in.
“I had maybe a dime in my pocket when I first opened the other shop and it has served its purpose, but truth be told, I’d outgrown it,” he said. “Sometimes, life makes you do what you should have done anyway.”
Along the demi wall, Ard displays nearly 30 lanyards he has worn at various tattoo conventions he’s participated in all over the United States, the most recent one held in Massachusetts in March.
“I have done so many of these,” he said of the experience, where he was had a table set up to give tattoos to participants of the conference.
With high five-star reviews of Permanent Expressions, Ard’s new space provides a welcome alternative vibe to Belfast.
For more information visit: Permanent Expressions
All photos by Kay Stephens
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com