Aaron Bernardo is one of those people who has managed to take his passion and channel it into a successful business. One simply has to admire the canvas that his epidermis has become to see that he is a big fan of tattoos and how they allow the wearer to express themselves. His company Xclusive Ink, located in Seven Mile Shops, brings people’s visions to life, one tattoo at a time.
How long has Xclusive Ink been open?
We became operational on 6 May, 2014. The goal was to achieve high quality, custom tattoos at a fair price in a controlled sterile environment.
What services do you offer?
We currently offer tattoos, piercings and semi-permanent makeup and we hope to offer tattoo removal in the near future.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to get a tattoo?
Come into the studio prepared, or at least have an idea of what you would like to get and where you would like to
place it. References or pictures aren’t a must, but they definitely help. Don’t rush the process; remember, you’re
going to have this for the rest of your life. Please don’t try to negotiate prices.
The price is the price. Your artist has dedicated their life to providing great pieces of art. This is his/her passion
and their means of making a living.
What equipment do you use?
We currently use Cheyenne rotary tattoo machines with Cheyenne cartridges. In the old days, tattoo artists would have to sterilize and reuse needles. In today’s world, each needle, cartridge or grip comes brand new and is sterilized in plastic, designed for one-time use. Once used, you simply dispose of the old needle or cartridge and open a new needle for a new client. This significantly reduces the risk of infection and also makes switching from needle to needle a seamless process, saving the artist and the customer time.
We use several different tattoo inks but Eternal Inks is one of our favourite brands. Eternal Inks led the way by setting strict standards in product consistency, quality ingredients and outstanding performance. These inks
are also free of animal by-products and are vegan-friendly. For designing ideas or building concepts we like to use our computer, iPads and Adobe Photoshop.
How many staff do you employ and how many years of experience do they have?
There are three of us in the team. Martin, who has with over five years of experience in tattooing; Lorraine, who is a piercer and tattoo artist and comes with over five years’ experience; and myself, Aaron, who manages/owns the shop.
Can people bring in their own designs or do you work with them on a design?
We actually do both. We leave that choice up to the client. We definitely encourage clients to bring in their own artwork, however we do like to put our own spin on the design or concept. We also offer free consultations where you can sit down with one of our artists and they will help bring your vision to life.
What is the most complicated design you have ever tattooed on someone?
We have done many complicated designs but one that stands out is a custom design we made for a female client. It was a beautiful floral piece with a total of 17 hours over the span of two days. This design ran from the client’s upper back all the way down to the bottom of her knee. It was tricky because she was leaving the island and we had to do two sessions in two days back-to-back, which is quite painful since the skin is already sensitive from the day before.
How many tattoos do you have yourself?
I myself have over 100 hours of tattoo work. Everyone’s different, but for me, my tattoos tell a story about my life. I can look at each individual tattoo and know exactly where I was and what I was going through at that time.
Some were pleasurable experiences and others were painful memories, but this is a creative way for me to tell my story. I’ve heard of stories where people have gotten addicted to the sensation of getting a tattoo but that isn’t the case for me.
With each experience I go through, I simply add another chapter to my book of life [smiles].
Do you offer tattoo removal and what is the process like?
I’ve heard it can be more time-consuming and painful than getting the tattoo in the first place. Currently we don’t offer tattoo removal, but we will be offering it in the near future.
With the right laser or machine it can help lessen the pain and speed up the process, making it an easier experience for the client.
Do you prefer colour or monochrome designs?
Both of our artists can do either style, but if you asked them which style they prefer more, Martin would
prefer to do colour pieces while Lorraine prefers to do more black and grey designs.
Have you ever talked someone out of getting a tattoo?
Oh yes; often! [Laughs] This is not a decision to make lightly; we’ll do whatever we can to make sure we have happy customers.
Xclusive Ink is located in Seven Mile Shops. Visit www.xclusiveink.com for more information and gallery.