There is no need to travel to a big city to get high-quality ink or piercings. An Oak Harbor tattoo shop has recently moved to a larger location and expanded its services.
Nite Owl Tattoo is now located on Ault Field Road. The shop, which will have its 10-year anniversary this March, began offering piercings just a couple of weeks ago. The new shop is spacious and filled with natural light. Colorful tattoo flash — painted artwork of tattoo designs – line every inch of the walls.
Nite Owl is one of only three tattoo shops on the island.
“I’m still really shocked how many people haven’t heard of Nite Owl Tattoo,” owner William Horton said.
Horton is a Whidbey Island native. When he was growing up, his best friend’s father owned the first tattoo shop on the island, just outside city limits. There was a ban on tattoo shops in Oak Harbor until 2005, when the city council reversed the ban, according to a Whidbey News-Times story.
Horton apprenticed at the shop until it shut down after about 24 years of business. He went on to open Nite Owl, which has five permanent artists. All specialize in something a little different, from realism to traditional tattoos.
“I feel like people think you need to go to the big city to get good work, but I think people need to be open-minded and check out the smaller places,” he said.
Horton guesses about 90% of his clientele is military.
“It does help that we’re on a Navy base,” Horton said. “That tradition stays true.”
Sailors are still interested in traditional tattoos, a style of tattooing pioneered by an artist and Navy vet known as Sailor Jerry. Those who serve in the Navy have a history of sporting this type of ink. Horton specializes in these bold, colorful tattoos, often of classic naval images such as ships, mermaids, eagles and pin-up girls.
“Tattoos don’t always need to have meaning,” he said, adding that some classic tattoos already carry a historical significance.
Nite Owl recently won a first place award for best traditional work at the Seattle Tattoo Expo, where they competed with artists from across the country.
“It’s kind of cool because we rep the island,” Horton said.
An entire section of the new shop is dedicated entirely to piercing. Horton said the service has been in high demand on the island for a long time, and he was happy to find somebody as reputable as Rusty Sin.
“I would recommend tattoo and piercing shops over places like Claire’s and Walmart for sterility, training, licensing, insurance,” Sin said.
At Nite Owl, customers can assure proper sterilization techniques and high quality jewelry are used. Sin said he gives verbal and written step-by-step aftercare.
“I make myself available all the time if people have concerns or questions,” he said.
The best way to make a piercing appointment is to connect with Sin on Instagram @piercigngbyrustinsin or people can call the shop at 360-531-2926.
Horton said while there may still be a stigma surrounding tattoo shops, people shouldn’t feel intimidated when going to one.
“You don’t have to come in feeling scared,” he said. “Our job is to make people feel comfortable.”
The best way to make a tattoo appointment, Horton said, is to come in person and check out the shop, ask questions and view artist portfolios. While it is recommended to make an appointment ahead of time, walk-in appointments are available.