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Meet Terry Ribera of Remington Tattoo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Terry Ribera.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Terry. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Named after the Remington 1900’s typewriter, Remington Tattoo is strong in character, full of life… a well-oiled machine.

The shop opened its doors in July 2011. 2 years ago, I had an opportunity to purchase 1930’s Spanish building in North Park, across the street from our original location. We are now located at 3009 Myrtle ave, San Diego. 92104. The business runs out of a converted 1930’s Spanish house. I’ve always been drawn to older architecture, furniture, and art in general. I have a bit of collecting habit, from vintage taxidermy, antiques, art you name it. The shop has a bit of curio cabinet meets your grandfathers house vibe. Since our opening I have hired some of the best local artists Nathaniel Gann, Chris Cockrill, Gustavo Razo, Alessio Ricci, Bobby Flores, John Sabin and Jasmine Worth who are experienced artists with exceptional range. The artists at Remington love what they do and collectively display a diverse range of styles.

About the owner: Terry Ribera has been tattooing in San Diego for 17 years After working at two of San Diego’s oldest and most respected tattoo shops Master Tattoo and Avalon Tattoo. Terry opened Remington Tattoo Parlor and Gallery. His work has been featured in many of the industry’s leading magazines. His work focuses on large scale illustrative design. Terry pulls inspiration from Artnouveau, Asian influenced, and Biomechanical tattoo styles. However, he prides myself on being versatile. He focuses on what makes for long lasting tattoo that will age well over time regardless of style.

Has it been a smooth road?
Like any new business there’s going to be hurdles to get across. I started very small. My original location was just under 600 sq feet. It was just myself and one other artist. When I opened I had 6 months of clientele waiting on the books, a healthy number, but not huge. I assumed that after a year my client base would dwindle, but I was prepared to be ok with it. I had been tattooing for almost 11 years at that point and at the time in my life I felt I couldn’t see the independence I desperately needed without making the move to being my own boss. I stepped out on a limb and just hoped with a good work ethic I could rebuild a solid clientele. I constantly reminded myself to put my business and the people that work with me first. To try to run the place the way I would have wanted to be treated as a client and a place that I would have loved to work as an employee. A few months after opening my client base increased to 11 months. It seemed as if my plan was starting to work. At the time I was overwhelmed due to personal life stresses and running a business, I hired a counter staff and a second tattooer. At the first time in my life I felt I had to stop taking clients and started to try my hardest to feed the work over to the other artist at my shop. In just a few short months my business had grown. Fast forward today over 6 years from opening and we currently own the building we run the shop from. My clientele is usually anywhere from 12-16 months and there are 7 amazing artists and 2 awesome counter staff that work with me. I’m super proud of my staff, and I really try not to think of the place just my business. It’s a place that I am hoping will continue to help all of us to succeed. Certainly, it took a lot wins and losses with hiring people. I’ve experienced everything from money being stolen, personal conflicts with staff, losing amazing artist due to personal life changes. This has all been difficult transitions to deal with and at the time it can be overwhelming. When you are used to working for other people you don’t have that perspective. It’s not just enough to have to succeed for yourself, it’s also a group of people that depend on me. The artist that you hire are looking to you keep the ship functioning. So, it definitely makes me so much more appreciative of our clientele. 5 years ago, I met my beautiful girlfriend Jasmine who works with me at our shop. She’s been there for nearly the whole process. She’s an amazing oil painter that I encouraged to learn how to tattoo a few years in to your relationship. A little longer than 2 years ago I started the process of teaching her how to tattoo. She has been my biggest influence as an artist outside of tattooing, she encouraged me to buy the building we are in now and she helps me to better boss.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Remington Tattoo story. Tell us more about the business.
We are a custom tattoo shop focusing on unique one of a kind tattoos drawn for the client. Our goal is to help each client connect with the best artist for the job. What makes us unique is that we offer an 8 artist that work in various styles, some of focus on Japanese/Asian tattoos, others traditional American and biomechanical, black and grey, illustrative and art nouveau. Mostly we aim toward making tattoos that last, age well over time. Unlike many shops we are interested in helping people to have tattoos that will stand the test of time.

So many shops aren’t concerned with this and are extremely money driven or they just don’t care to take pride in their work or to help clients with understanding how tattoos age. Obviously, we need to make a living, but I make it a point to make it about making good tattoos first for our clients first. I don’t want to make a living from us tattooing people if I don’t feel confident in the quality we can provide.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
It’s hard to say exactly where the business will go. The trend has been on a steady climb and tattooing has taken on a far more sophisticated collector, and that collector has a much higher expectation of the artist today. I think these two relationships will drive tattooing to be a far more respected art form and business practice. A lot of artist miss the good old days when tattoo shops where dangerous places. I don’t personally feel that anything about that mentality is good for tattooing.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Terry Ribera

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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