New tattoo shop brings ‘Beautifully Broken’ artMarch 1, 2018
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — When Tommy (Gunn) Robertson left Dubois County — and Indiana — almost 25 years ago, tattoo parlors were illegal in the state.
Yes, that’s right. Tattooing was illegal in Indiana. From 1963 to 1996, doctors were the only ones who could tattoo people since the process was considered a medical procedure. But that law, like the Sunday alcohol sales ban, is a thing of the past, and Tommy, 46, and his wife, Jennie, 33, are taking advantage of the business opportunity tattooing offers.
The Robertsons opened Beautifully Broken Tattoos and Body Piercing at 718 W. Sixth St. in Jasper three weeks ago, and so far, business has been good. They mostly take walk-ins, but clients can make an appointment through Facebook.
The name of the shop comes from a Warren Haynes song of the same name — he’s one of Tommy’s favorite musicians — and seemed to fit. When you tattoo or pierce, Tommy said, you’re breaking the skin to make something beautiful. The couple is excited to bring that artistic service to the area.
Tommy grew up in Dubois County and attended Northeast Dubois schools before moving to Tampa, Florida, to pursue a career in the tattooing industry.
“I’ve just always been artistic,” Tommy said. “It’s a way for an artist to make a living as an artist.”
By Jennie’s accounts, he’s pretty good at it. When clients come in, she said, they can tell him their idea or show him other pieces they like, and he’ll come up with the perfect piece for them.
“He just somehow gets it,” Jennie said. “He’s very good at that.”
At Beautifully Broken, Tommy does the tattoos and Jennie does the piercings. Jennie’s hoping to not only offer people the chance to adorn their bodies, but to also educate her clients about the benefits of some piercings. For example, a daith piercing, which pierces the ear’s innermost cartilage fold, can alleviate migraine and tension headaches, she said.
“There’s a hair-thick nerve in the daith that you have to hit just right,” Jennie said. “I have a pretty good success rate with them.”
Tommy has been tattooing for 24 years, the last 14 of which were spent in the Evansville area. Jennie has been body piercing for four years. The couple met when Tommy had a parlor in Princeton.
“I met him at the tattoo shop, and I just kinda stayed around,” Jennie said.
When the couple decided to open their own parlor, they looked at several places: Panama City, Florida; Evansville; Bloomington. But everywhere they looked already had enough tattoo and body-piercing shops. Then, they looked up Jasper on the internet. Tommy remembered the city from childhood, and Jennie grew up in the area, too, about an hour southwest of Dubois County in Haubstadt. Ultimately, the couple decided to open up shop in Jasper and live in Petersburg to be close to their families, who still live in the area.
The highlight of being a tattoo or piercing artist, the two agree, is the people. When clients come in, Jennie said, it’s a little bit like therapy because they often share the stories behind the pieces they want on their bodies.
“For the most part anymore, people don’t just go out and get (tattoos),” Jennie said. “They want something significant, meaningful.”
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