Pop a coin into the gumball machine at EaDo Tattoo tomorrow and you could wind up with some ink.
It's not the first time a tattoo shop has offered a random choice via a clever system. But for EaDo Tattoo it's less of a novelty and more of a showcase for their grand opening.
Some readers may recall Figurehead Tattoo, the shop run by Nate Beavers that stood in its place this time last year. The surgery-green walls. The view hidden behind dust-covered windows. Zorrilla worked at Figurehead as well.
"I was here a year before with Beavers," he said. "And at the time was working in Midtown. I left my shop to come here because I loved the neighborhood so much and the building."
The building sits at 2102 Leeland Street, surrounded by what's left of when East Downtown was Chinatown. It's got a catty-cornered view of downtown Houston (and Grafitti Park) that's to die for. It's a stone's throw from several popular bars and hangouts, not to mention Aerosol Warfare. The shop is in somewhat of a cultural sweet spot.
When Beavers moved on, Zorrilla saw an opportunity to transform the shop as he envisioned it.
"Tattoo shops are similar to old barber shops," he said. "I want to bring back that old-school nostalgia."
At the time, the only money he had was from appointments who were about to pay him that day. So he got help from additional clients, and found an investor.
Zorrilla lost no time in redesigning and redecorating. Got the health department in and out. Set up internet. Wiped the windows. Painted the walls. Redid the floors. Bought new equipment.
Same shell, new insides. It's a micro-example of what's happened to East Downtown for the past several years.
We went to EaDo Tattoo in June to record an interview and shoot photos. The place was under a soft opening, with appointments and walk-ins both welcomed. Other than Zorrilla, there was just one other full-time tattoo artist: Aaron Sobremonte (@boxx_ops). They offered Dead Dialect's photographer an apprenticeship three days after the interview.
Haydon's Disclaimer: Our photographer, Dana Graham, took them up on the apprenticeship. However I haven't done any work for the shop. I haven't been given any gifts, incentives or free ink. Honestly I'm not even a fan of East Downtown's nickname, "EaDo", but I'll admit as far as business titles go there's no confusion about where the shop is located or what services they offer.
And Zorrilla made no mistake that tattoo artists are indeed in the service industry. People know what they want, he said. Usually.
"There's always trends happening," he said. "Mandala. American traditional. Kanji. Tribal. Those things come and go. You have to be able to move with it. A lot of artists get stuck in their style or era. I hate it when artists get stuck. I'll do anything and everything."
Sobremonte has specialized with what styles are in demand. Modern-traditional. Mandalas. Black outlines. Geometrics. Between the two of them it's a wide spectrum of options.
"Yeah, I'm putting my art on people, but I want people to get what they want," Zorrilla said. "Most things I feel comfortable with, but I don't mind sending people to where I think they can get the best work done."
Growth being constant, coverups will always be in demand, he added.
Aside from Ink, Zorrilla has other plans for the shop, especially given it's geographic context. He described art shows, painting nights. A shop that promotes local talent, that showcases everything East Downtown has to offer. EaDo Tattoo is planning on figureheading this change to the art scene to bridge the gap between tattoos and other art mediums.
"Art is kind of the thing that leads movements and ideas in society. People are moved by art. It speaks to them and creates change," Zorrilla said. "As an artist, you are creating change. You have to be able to move with that change."
The Grand opening is on July 7th 2018. Zorrilla is planning to open the doors and come what may, he and his crew of talented artists will be ready.
They will be open from 2pm til midnight and closed on Mondays.