Speakeasy Tattoo Lounge: More than a Tattoo Shop

Since their reopening earlier this year, this tattoo parlour has come such a long way. With a multitude of artists backed at the ready, this shop located in Springdale, Arkansas is revolutionizing how shops in the tattoo industry operate. Cydney Bergdorf, owner of Speakeasy Tattoo decided the best way to help their community was by teaching and educating brand new artists the skills needed to perform the art of tattooing. Just as a speakeasy is a secret location hidden within an establishment, this shop takes this concept and elevates it to appear as more than meets the public eye.

I am so glad that I had the opportunity to dive into the intricate world of body art at Speakeasy Tattoo and discuss with Cydney more in-depth about their unique apprenticeship academy. Enjoy the first of many articles featuring a business which truly produces, performs and supports art in a variety of forms.

When inquiring about the vision behind creating the shop and their overall business journey, their automatic response was “Originally [the shop] was gonna go above my father’s piano store. [It’s] a piano store and a mattress store on 8th Street in Rogers, Arkansas. [The store] has a really cool set up on the first floor. The only way to get to the second floor is from the stairs in the back. My brother Trevor Self [thought], ‘How cool would it be if we put the tattoo shop above and then the only way you can get to it is like a speakeasy.’ We kept the idea and we looked for other locations. [At our first] location, we created the bookshelf door. The front of it was a free library and we’re actually going to be implementing that here [at our current location]. We’re going to fit the lobby with bookshelves. It’s really been this year that we’ve been operational due to COVID-19. I loved our [previous] location, but this is a bigger shop. We have more room and people. It went from just me running the shop the majority of the year when we were first open to now having 9 artists.”

When discovering about the tattoo apprenticeship program that Speakeasy Tattoo has to offer, I was amazed and in awe as to how their shop is now a continuous launching board for beginner tattoo artists. I know there has to be more shops in the Northwest Arkansas area that offer a similar style program, but I have yet to hear about them if they do exist. According to the owner “It is a new program. The state of Arkansas requires a tattoo artist to be licensed for 5 years before they can teach. I think it is important because you could be experienced for 20 years and not know how to teach. I’ve only been licensed for 6 years. I think it’s [crucial] to know that just because you have your license doesn’t mean that you were taught some of the fundamentals. I feel that the fundamentals are really important if you want to know why something works and why something doesn’t. That’s why I do what I do. I started the apprenticeship program in 2019. Ashley Roller and Fernando Gutierrez were my first apprentices. Every class I do things a little bit differently because every student is different and every person needs a little bit different of an approach. I love learning and teaching.”

Top Row R to L: @elbainks @amjinks @devynmoreno_artwork
Bottom Row R to L: @tattratttsalad @elbainks @devynmoreno_artwork

The ability to balance the monetary side of a business, but also retain the artistic passion can be a bit of a challenge for anyone. Cydney provides their inside perspective in saying, “My real love is running a business. I love art, math, spreadsheets, organizing and [figuring out] the puzzle of cash flow and making things work. I [also] love the challenge of making things run like a co-op instead of the traditional challenge of thinking. [In the beginning I was told,] ‘You’re gonna get greedy once you see the money.’ [My response is] ‘No. I don’t think I will. That’s not how I operate.’ I do enjoy making art. It’s something that I tend to do when I need an emotional release, have free time, want to doodle or that my soul needs to do it. I don’t want to do art for work. I tend to burn out if I need to do it for work. If I want to do work, I want to do the business side. My end goal is to fill all of these spots [in the shop] with people who want to do tattooing for work and who are passionate about the job. I want to manage this business for my job and then do art in my free time. We’re on track for that. I’m excited for this.

how does your business strive to help the art community in northwest arkansas?
Speakeasy Tattoo Studio was important to me because I wanted a place that I felt comfortable in the tattoo industry. I created a place for myself because I didn't feel comfortable within the industry. What I didn't realize is in doing that I was going to make a place that felt comfortable for other people as well. What I've been hearing from other people now is that Speakeasy Tattoo Studio is a place where they feel welcome. It means so much to me. 
When I moved here, something I noticed was that the tattoo industry was very gate-keeped [here in Northwest Arkansas]. It was my intention to break it. The second the apprenticeship program was available to me, [I began running it]. I want to open up the industry for everyone because there is enough skin to go around. This was my intended purpose.

Located at 2257 Old Wire Rd Suite 5, Springdale, AR 72764

VISIT speakeasytattoolounge.com to contact an artist for future appointments.

Follow on Instagram @speakeasytat & @speakeasytattooschool, FB @speakeasytattoolounge, or e-mail speakeasytattoolounge@gmail.com

**Photo credits: Cydney Bergdorf @cydneybergdorf**

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