Saturday, February 17, 2018

Bella Tattoos Inks its Name on Chester Township
August 23, 2017 by Jennifer Turkoc | No Comments

We really need to be brought together and art is a beautiful thing to bring the walls down. – Greg Chadwick

Greg Chadwick might have a myriad of talents, such as playing guitar and harmonica, but first and foremost, he is an artist.

He started tattooing himself at age 13 and also paints, both murals and smaller pieces.

He has started to carve wooden figures, too, because as he said, “The brain craves different art figures.”

In an Aug. 11 interview with Chadwick — who recently opened a tattoo shop at 8406 Mayfield Road in Chester Township — he shared how he has been tattooing for 20 years, but started out in carpentry and the trades. When he decided to pursue tattooing, he apprenticed under Shawn Ross, a former tattoo artist in the Mentor area, for a year.

The first six months, Chadwick said he didn’t get to touch skin. He cleaned and did odd jobs around the shop.

He believes nowadays, there are too many apprentices and they’re not being educated. He also believes tattooing is too commercialized and artists have become sub-contractors.

In 1988-1989, when Chadwick started, he was one of only a few tattoo artists in Northeast Ohio.

“Instead of a sacred art form, it’s a money-making industry today,” he said, adding it has gone from art to just being a business.

His work has taken him all over the country, but a few years ago, Chadwick and his family settled in Chester Township, citing the good schools there. Chadwick said he had always preferred the country and told his wife, “Once you get a taste of living in the country, you’ll never want to leave.”

The Chadwick family, indeed, loves their new life in Chester. They enjoy how everybody seems to know everybody and help each other.

The new tattoo shop is in a cozy little former dentist’s office, with room for a small waiting room, an office, a studio where Chadwick creates the artwork, and a room where he does the actual tattooing.

Everything is designed to be soothing and relaxing, he said. He wanted to create an environment where there was a more intimate experience with the client, and he wanted it to be a very private experience.

When a client first comes in seeking a tattoo, Chadwick will conduct an interview, he explained, adding he tries to find out what they like about a design and “what makes them tick.”

From that, he comes up with a personalized design. There are no books of examples, no flash art on the walls.

“Tattoos are an outward expression of who we are inside,” he said. “I have a more spiritual approach than most tattoo artists.”

When the client comes in for a tattooing, they approve the design.

There may be a little tweaking, but Chadwick doesn’t want the client to look at it for too long because “art feeds off of ideas” and the client may want major changes.

In order to be a tattoo artist, Chadwick has to be certified in four areas: blood-borne pathogens, cross contamination of diseases, first aid and CPR. He uses all disposable materials, including ink cartridges that are disposed of after use.

Chadwick said he wants to be a part of the community. He has talked to the township about fundraising for autism and wounded veterans.

He said he’s also interested in having a local art show.

Several years ago, Chadwick painted the helmet a little boy was wearing to reshape his head.

He said he has a mission of uniting people through his art and being nonjudgmental.

“We really need to be brought together and art is a beautiful thing to bring the walls down,” he added.

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