By Barb Pert Templeton
It’s been a dream come true for local artist Kristen Klepak to open her own business and share her talents with clients and now she’s set to leaver her mark in Marine City.
Kristen, 30, is a self-taught artist who’s been bringing tattoos to life for half of her life or since she was just 15-years-old.
Ruby Tattoo soon started to take shape, opening its doors on Jan. 10 and then hosting a grand opening on Jan. 21. The shop is named for Kristen’s 10-year-old daughter Ruby who’s a budding artist already showing a great interest in following her mom’s footsteps to the tattoo chair.
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The store is located in a plaza off River Road where a VG’s grocery store and a Tractor Supply shop are already in place.
Kristen’s personal interest in the arts was always encouraged by her father who was very proud of her art work. She also gathered lots of ideas and techniques watching cable shows like L.A. Ink and studying literature about tattooing.
Originally from Warren, the Klepaks moved to Marine City six years ago and simply love the new home they’ve established there. Being a longtime tattoo artist Kristen had a large clientele base already so she began making plans to open her open shop.
“This has brought so much happiness for me and my whole family,” Kristen said. “I love to have my own space and I liked creating a comfortable place with the vibe that I wanted for my customers.”
That vibe includes all kinds of eclectic art displayed all over the store. Kristen calls them “oddities and curiosities” that she’s collected over the years.
Amid the unique atmosphere of objects, Ruby Tattoo also overs a nice variety of tattoo options for patrons via a small but talented crew. Kristen’s specialty is American Tradition tattoos which is a style that’s dates back many years to the origin of the art, Rex is the artist who does lots of black work and apprentice CC provides whimsical artwork.
“We have a very good variety here so we can help anyone that comes through the door,” Kristen said. “And it takes a lot of dedication, passion and hard work to do this; it you don’t love what you’re doing its going to be reflected in your work and in who you are as an artist.”
She said about 50 percent of the customers come in with their own idea or plan for a tattoo and the other 50 percent work with her to sort out what they’d like to see created.
While everything from a small set of initials to a full back or torso piece have been created for clients by Kristen, she said the most unusual tattoo she’s done to date was for a woman with webbed toes. The lady wanted the symbol for “cut here” which is a – – – image, tattooed between her toes.
No project is too big or too small when it comes to tattoos. If someone simply wants a tiny heart or half a sleeve for their arm, Kristen is happy to accommodate them. For those who aren’t exactly sure what they want she provides a consultation, learns a bit about the person and what or who they want to recognize of memorialize with the art and they figure it out together.
Kristen enjoys all the challenges that come with creating something fun, interesting or unique for her clients. That includes memorializing a loved one by transferring their handwritten message, for example, onto someone’s body as a permanent reminder.
“Those small hand-written tattoos can be very powerful and it’s like the person is still with you forever,” Kristen said. “Floral tattoos are also a favorite for me because they can be feminine or masculine and they are a timeless piece.”
The average tattoo session lasts about 60 minutes and the time frame and size of the work varies from person to person. Someone may want a full sleeve completed on their arm but if they have a lower pain tolerance it’s likely to be done in stages, Kristen said. Cost can also be a factor and a larger project can be broken into sessions to accommodate the client’s wallet.
Clients who are 16 to 18 years old must have a signed consent form from their parents in order to get a tattoo at Ruby Tattoo.
To date, the foot traffic at the shop has been steady
“Business is amazing so far and we are so very grateful it’s been overwhelming and incredible,” Kristen said.
Ruby Tattoo is located at 6738 River Rd. in Marine City. To make an appointment call (810) 676-5307.
Ruby Tattoo is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.