Fri. Dec 3rd, 2021

Tattoo collectors rejoice — you no longer have to leave the North Fork to get inked.

Vibes Ink, which just opened on Main Street in Riverhead, is the only tattoo parlor on the North Fork and the latest enterprise by tattoo artist Taboo, owner of the Southampton-based Natives With Ink. While Natives With Ink is a smaller, one-man-studio with tattoos done exclusively by Taboo, Vibes Ink features several artists.

“I wish I could split myself in half,” said Taboo, a Shinnecock native. “We couldn’t handle [the volume of] clientele, so this is what we came up with.”

Working as a solo operation has forced Taboo to learn all sorts of tattoo art styles, but with multiple artists on staff he said he has been able to focus on his signature style: black and grey realism. Other artists on staff are Dominique B. Mills, who does more abstract work, and Zach Decker, who focuses on American traditional style. But, Taboo stressed, the studio can accommodate any request or style.

A lifelong artist, Taboo has been a tattoo artist for more than 20 years and got his start in an unconventional way.

“I got forced into it!” he said. When his friend was incarcerated, Taboo would send him art. “On his first day out, I looked at his body and he had [tattoos of] everything I drew on him. He told me a Native American guy taught him how to tattoo.” Taboo’s friend then rigged up a homemade tattoo machine using “a boom box, BIC pen, guitar string, button and cell phone charger” and taught Taboo how to do it. “He said, ‘I want a tattoo today.’ I was like, ‘What?’”

Bringing new meaning to the phrase “learn on the job,” Taboo then gave his friend a new tattoo on the back of his neck. Today, Taboo is a highly successful artist, both in tattoos and in painting, which adorn the walls of Vibes Ink.

In addition to offering tattoo services, Taboo hopes to turn Vibes Ink into a resource for the community and plans to offer an apprenticeship program to people over the age of 18 “that want to stay off the streets and make something of themselves. We want to give back to the community.”

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