PHOTOS BY AARON MOELLER
STORY BY DYLAN SKRILOFF
One of the popular tattoo shops in Rockland County “Winky Dink Ink” recently moved from 54 Route 303 Valley Cottage to 225 East Erie street, Blauvelt.
The same artists ink-lovers have come to rely on are still working their craft at the business that bills itself the “best tattoo shop in Rockland County.” Some of artists regularly on hand are Bobby Ciffone, Matt Truiano, Matt Graham, John Bergin III, Christopher Lee and Matt Newman. Between them they boast over a century of experience.
Winky Dink’s website states Ciffone has been at it since the early 80s and has gone on to tattoo people all across the United States, winning many tattooing awards and having work featured in tattoo magazines along the way.
In that three-plus decade period the societal attitude has clearly shifted. Ciffone said, “It’s been the last 10 years or so that rap changed,” speculating that Reality TV shows may have mainstreamed the once underground form of body-art that drove most parents crazy. Or perhaps celebrities and athletes showing off more body art every year.
While the Rockland County Times was visiting Winky Dink a mother and her 18-year-old daughter were in the shop together for teen’s first tattoo, three ankle hearts.
One of the crew noted, “It used to be tattoos put you in a group… years ago old women would give me dirty looks. Recently, I was on an elevator with an older lady, she looked at the Hebrew [tattoo] and said she liked it… Years ago it was a stigma, people would keep their distance.”
Winky Dink artists have done work on some notable folks; members of the heavy metal band Mastodon, who is releasing a new album at the end of the month and “Ogre” from Revenge of the Nerds among them.
One of the challenges any tattoo artist must face is giving clients good advice. Sometimes people might not have the best ideas and a good tattoo artist has a way with words as well as ink. Some tattoos may compliment a woman’s body. Others, not so much. “Everytime someone comes in consultation and advice is a big part of the job,” Bergin III said.
Ciffone said Winky Dink is recognized as a leader in the local tattoo industry, helping the county craft health regulations that prevent infection and other problems that unsafe tattoo work can cause. All tattoo shops receive an annual health inspection.
What if you think you are meant to be a tattoo artist?
The way many get practice is by making designs on their own upper thighs, Ciffone stated, sharing a little tattoo artist’s secret.
Whether tattoos are something you want or even believe in is clearly a personal choice, but what cannot be doubted is the artists at Winky Dink are severely talented.
If you are interested in learning more visit their shop on East Eerie St., check out winkydinkink.com or call (845) 353-4465.