Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

When most people walk into a tattoo shop, they’ve at least got an idea of what they want. Maybe they have a sketch or a picture or a favorite quote.

For Chuck Kapise, who opened Heart of the Valley Tattoo Studio in Twisp earlier this fall, that’s the jumping-off point.

“My favorite thing is just to give somebody something better than they thought. An idea in their head that came to life,” he said. “It may take five or six tries to get somebody exactly what they want, or what they couldn’t imagine, then finally you get it. That to me is what I love to do.”

Kapise and his family have been visiting the Methow Valley for years, though most recently they lived in Gold Bar, and he had a tattoo shop in Sultan.

“We wanted to move here for probably a good 10 years now,” he said.

The family moved to the area last fall, in part to spend more time with family. This summer, they bought his mother-in-law’s home and Kapise started looking for options to tattoo again.

He first thought of running a mobile shop out of an RV, but the vehicle proved somewhat unreliable. When he heard there was space in Twisp’s Third Avenue Salon available — he already knew owner Christi Moore — it seemed like a perfect fit.

“I really like the space, I like the spot, I love the people,” Kapise said. “I grew up in a small town. This is the same feel as the hometown, Freeport, Maine, I grew up in.”

Kapise was also attracted to the area’s art scene and the progressive, community-oriented and ecologically conscious nature of the Methow Valley.

“When you live in a progressive place, of course there are always people who are going to fight it because they don’t want change, and I don’t want change either unless it’s something positive,” he said. “It’s way more artsy, it’s way more inspiring than where I was.”

Tattooing is a great way to get to know people, Kapise said. A good tattoo artist takes the time to talk with a client, to figure out what they want and why, and to consult them on any changes to make the tattoo better.

“That’s why I love tattooing. I get to know people, I get to know what they want and I work with them to build something, whatever they’re thinking of, which also teaches me a lot,” he said.

Kapise has his own unique, psychedelically colorful style, showcased on canvases in his shop, but he said he loves to adopt most styles his clients want for their body art — after all, they’ll be wearing it for a long time.

Kapise started tattooing in 1997, but in 1991 he was drawing designs for another tattoo artist in his home state of Maine.

“He’d give me tattoos for free so it was a good little trade,” he said.

After moving to Washington, he worked at Primeval Ink in Monroe to learn the trade through a five-year apprenticeship. He tattooed at other people’s shops for a while, then started his own. When your work is walking around town on display, word of mouth referrals do wonders for business, he said.

“If you’re a good artist you’re going to do fine,” he said. “I try to do my best and I compete against myself.”

He particularly prides himself on a clean, safe shop and a meticulous process.

“I just know what I’m doing,” he said. “I do things the best and the right way that’s going to be safe for everyone. That’s my first concern is safety and cleanliness.”

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