Local Business

Tattoo parlour’s team ‘like family’

  • Tattoo team: pictured, from left, are the Smokin Joe’s team, James Cooke, Chelsea Paynter, Joseph Mathias and Lawrence Vias
  • Tattoo by Joseph Mathias
  • Tattoo by James Cooke
  • Tattoo by Chelsea Paynter

Tattoo parlour Smokin Joe’s has found success in its first five years with a group of staff who think of themselves as being like family.

Joseph Mathias, the King Street establishment’s owner, aims to inspire the next generation to pursue their craft of tattooing and hopefully one day take over his business.

He has been a mentor for his younger colleagues and continues to teach and motivate them to do their best and stay focused on their art.

Since opening the business, Mr Mathias said he had received much positive feedback.

“In total I have been working for 15 years within the industry but opened up Smokin Joe’s in 2012,” he said.

He has four staff working with him, three tattoo artists and one piercing technician.

Mr Mathias recognised his colleagues’ talent at a young age and made it his job to make sure they become the best version of themselves, both professionally and personally.

One of them, James Cooke, a tattoo artist, said: “I have always been into the arts. I come from a very arty family — my mother was the original owner of the glass-blowing company in Bailey’s Bay so I grew up around art.”

Although he had this passion for art, he didn’t realise his love for tattoos until he received his first one at the age of 15.

“After I got my first tattoo, I realised this was what I wanted to do, so when I was 17, I got another tattoo from Joe,” Mr Cooke said.

“I brought a drawing with me that I created and Joe asked me what I planned on doing with this talent. I was about to leave school for behavioural stuff as a teenager and wanted to become a tattoo artist.

“He told me if I got my diploma he would teach me and I did end up finishing school and getting my diploma.”

He officially started working at Smokin Joe’s in 2015.

Another tattoo artist, Chelsea Paynter, 26, started working at the business at the age of 16.

“I met Joe when I was 16,” she said. “He did my second tattoo, it’s been ten years since I expressed interest in working as a tattoo artist.

“I have always been artistic and after I left high school, I could not see myself working in an office job. Joe recognised my talent and started training me at 16. I started tattooing my friends and my first tattoo was on myself.”

All the artists have their own individual styles and concepts and Smokin Joe’s also has a body-piercing specialist, Lawrence Vias.

He has been working in the industry for more than 18 years.

“I feel I have an understanding of the human body which helps tremendously,” Mr Vias said.

“I know why people swell, weird irritations to food they may have and knowledge of what jewellery is best for them, depending on their allergens.”

He is originally from New York and had the opportunity to move Bermuda ten years ago.

He believes that he and his colleagues are like family and that their combined talent is exceptional.

“We are family, I love them,” he said. “When you have a good group of people, who all love what they do, it makes whatever we do of a higher quality.”

Smokin Joe’s opening hours are Monday to Saturday from 1pm to 9pm. For more information call 236-5597