For company and potential hand-squeezing, my friend Dino joined me at my appointment. As a fitness instructor who launched the popular studio the Salt Drop nearly two years ago, Dino’s dozen-plus tattoos have become a trademark-like aspect of his brand (most especially the word SALT emblazoned across his knuckles). We were both immediately impressed by Ephemeral’s airy and spacious, 1,800-square-foot layout—ideal for social distancing, as well as maintaining an appreciable amount of privacy—and five separate artists’ stations, designed by the Brooklyn-based firm All-Day Breakfast.
Of the five artists currently on staff, Gusti, my assigned artist, was the only male—a surprising inverse to the usual male-dominant ratio at most tattoo studios. (“Diversity, equity, and inclusion is something we take very seriously,” Sakhai had told me earlier.) As we finalized my design and chatted about the process, Gusti nodded that most of his clients at Ephemeral were first-timers like me. Having worked as an artist for the last five years, he said that Ephemeral’s ink (currently only available in black) requires a slightly slower motion during the application, which was the only discernible difference he’d noticed. The healing process itself also takes slightly longer—on average four to six weeks, depending on the size and placement.
In less than 20 minutes, I had a fresh new tattoo and a free after-care kit to bring home—a surprising perk compared to most studios, Dino confirmed. The same goes for cost and tipping; Gusti declined my offer to give him an extra gratuity, as it was already built into the pay structure, which is predicated on guaranteed wages. “The craft can come with a lot of financial instability, and we saw this as a great opportunity to provide a benefit to the artists we work with,” Sakhai explained.
After leaving, I asked Dino how my experience compared to any of his own. “Some studios can have an air of pretentiousness that’s intimidating and off-putting. This was the antithesis of that,” he said, validating my own sense of the event. As for my tattoo, I’ve yet to reveal it while it’s under wraps and healing, but so far…definitely no regrets.