Black Opal Tattoo is a small studio in Bend, Oregon. Created by Kailah Bartolome as a safe place for both artists and clients. The tattoo industry in recent years has unfortunately become a place where money and the greed of shop owners control the lives and well beings of artists to a point where we are no longer seen as artists. Artists are seen as machines now. Just making money for their shop and not much more. Ironically, alot of tattooers became tattooers because they wanted out of that capitalist system and to stop being taken advantage of by the companies they worked for. And yet here we are, now as artists we really have 2 options, keep paying astronomical percentages and making non-tattooers rich or go out on your own and deal with the struggle of fully running a business on your own. It's ridiculous. It's heartbreaking to watch these incredible artists be taken advantage of, to see them making half of what they deserve and to watch their art suffer over these pressures.
If you are reading this as a client, not a tattooer, it's important to understand that in these percentage shops your artist that just did that badass tattoo on you is only making 60% of what you just paid them. So $40 of every $100 you just gave them they will never see. And if that artist is on 1099 they are not only getting fucked by their employer but also by the government as well. They are considered self-employed; thus, they must also pay the 7.65% employer portion. In the end, this means that a 1099 worker pays double the FICA tax (15.3%) as their W-2 counterparts (7.65%). Tattooers are being screwed out of so much money from so many angles! It's taking money from people who have dedicated their entire lives to perfecting their craft and creating astronomical amounts of stress for them.
This is why I created Black Opal. Because this system only works for the people at the top and i refuse to continue to support this system! This is a safe place for artists to thrive, work together and build each other into better artists. Black Opal is not a percentage shop, I am not looking to get rich off the backs of hard working artists. We operate more like a co-op because ARTISTS DESERVE 100% OF WHAT THEY MAKE!
What are we doing different here? We ALL (including me, the owner) pay a rent to cover building rent and supplies, because of course no business can operate for free. Artists here control their own money and are true independent contractors. No one is 1099'd. No one is guilted into staying late or working extra days. However mutual respect for your co-workers is required, if another artists gets you out of a pinch you should return the favor. We look out for each other.
I am picky about who I bring into this place. I only bring like minded people into this space so that we can all grow and learn from each other. You have to have a love and passion for tattooing, no egos, you have to be an artist outside of tattooing and most importantly you have to have a drive to constantly be bettering your craft and help keep this shop growing so that other artists can get off the assembly line.
If this sounds like a place you would like to work, please send me, Kailah, an email at with your portfolio and a brief description about you as an artist.
We would love to have you be a part of our team