Velvet Rose: Not your average Tattoo Parlor

Photo by Tahir Daudier

Tom Barszcz

“It’s Your Tattoo and it’s For Life. So we want to Make Sure You Can Wear That Shit with Pride”

Those of you who have been in tattoo shops before know that they all share a certain, sometimes intimidating image. There’s loud head-banging music playing in the background, the walls are covered with dark designs and the artists may not be giving off the friendliest vibes. Not all tattoo shops choose to perpetuate this off-putting stereotype. Statesboro just became home to such a shop called Velvet Rose.

The humble little shop opened its doors on September 1, 2015 and lies in the Simmons Shopping Center, right off of North Main Street. It is owned by Mark Simmons, a truly unique, self-taught artist. He is accompanied by his wife, Jean Simmons, the piercer and secretary of Velvet Rose and Daniel Weinberger, a highly skilled tattoo artist and former Georgia Southern University student.

The inside of Velvet is very subtle. There are no pictures of tattoos on the walls, no poster boards of “flash” tattoo designs and no discouraging decorations you’d typically find at other tattoo shops, which Mark Simmons described as “demonic shit”. Nope, Velvet rose has a few sketchbooks of the Simmons and Weinberger’s sketches, several portraits of Marilyn Monroe, a few framed publications featuring Simmons and one TV, which is always playing something random.

Simmons is a self-taught artist with 23 years of experience. Starting at the age of 16, he became what is known as a “scratcher”, which is a non-professional tattoo artist. Simmons tattooed non-professionally until 2005, when he was hired to apprentice in an Augusta shop called Studio 13. After apprenticeship, he eventually bought Studio 13 and began his career as a legitimate artist to be published in two tattoo magazines: “Skin Art” and “Prick”. After several years, Simmons moved on to a different shop in Savannah called Resurrection Ink and soon found his way to Statesboro to open Velvet Rose.

“We just want Statesboro to have a solid tattoo shop,” Simmons said. “I decided to open up in Statesboro because the college is right here with 23,000 students that possibly need a badass tattoo.”

To Simmons, owning a tattoo shop and being an artist is a great responsibility that he takes very seriously.

“It’s a hell of an opportunity and a great pleasure to have someone allow you to tattoo them, to put something on their skin forever… It’s your tattoo and it’s for life, so we want to make sure you can wear that shit with pride,” Simmons said.

Intimidating is the last word to describe Velvet Rose, and students don’t have just Mark and Jean to thank for that. There’s also Daniel Weinberger; the third hard-worker behind Velvet Rose. Daniel spent most of his life in Statesboro and even attended GSU in pursuit of a career in the business aspect of the tattoo world, until he realized the artistic direction was most important to him.

“If you think about business too much, it takes away from your artistic nature,” Weinberger said.

Once Daniel became professional, Mark hired him at Velvet Rose due to his impressive talent and shared professional philosophies

“The way I look at tattooing is that somebody’s giving me a piece of their body for the rest of their life…to say I take tattooing personally is an understatement,” Weinberger said.

The Simmons are currently working on creating a website that tells a little more about their shop and who they are. In the meantime, for more information about Velvet Rose, check out their Facebook or give them a visit in person.