After working for tattoo shops in the Vancouver-Portland metro area for several years, Henry “Smallz” McCallum and Jennie Mastaler were ready and eager to own and operate a place of their own.
They found the perfect spot in downtown Washougal to make their dreams come true.
McCallum and Mastaler, along with fellow tattoo artist, Dawn Mendez, opened their new tattoo shop, Octopi Ink, at 1911 Main St., Ste. 104, in July.
“We wanted to open a shop of our own, have more freedom and control, and make our own rules,” said McCallum, a Vancouver resident. “It definitely is a great feeling. Not only do we get to keep our own profits, but when people come in and say how great the shop looks, how excited they are to see us, the compliments go straight to us. It’s our shop, our baby.”
Washougal resident Corey Reed said he’ll be surprised if the shop doesn’t prosper.
“I’ve been to different shops, and they were nice, but this one has a different feeling, its own vibe and a comfortable, relaxing setting,” Reed said. “I go to Smallz because I’ve known him for a long time, but I’ve seen the work of the other artists as well. And, based on what I’ve seen of their work and their attitudes and the overall atmosphere, I’d be shocked if they didn’t have great success.”
The three artists “can do fairly well in different (tattoo) styles,” according to McCallum.
“I draw cartoony, warped-proportion, graffiti-esque characters that are bubbly — not bubbly and cutesy, necessarily, but bubbly and dark,” he said. “Jennie does a more illustrative style (that incorporates) neo-traditional elements. And Dawn focuses more on the Asian style — whether it’s black and gray, or color, she does the Asian style really well. All three of us can do other styles, but we all have our own ‘cups of tea.'”
McCallum plans to offer piercing and body modification services in the near future, and would eventually like to evolve the trio’s creative philosophies into a brand to produce clothing and merchandise.
“We’re also working with a local artist who wants to hang her paintings at the shop to sell them,” he said. “We could almost become an art gallery as well, which would be pretty cool. We want to help other people and businesses in the Washougal community.”
McCallum, a longtime artist, became interested in tattooing about six years ago while watching a reality television series.
“My (origin) story is a little dorky,” McCallum said. “I had been doing art my whole life, and I was always good at drawing in other mediums. I was watching the first season of ‘Ink Master,’ and in my head I was like, ‘I think I can do that. I think I can be good at that,’ so I bought a bunch of equipment and practiced on myself. I have ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), so I have a hard time staying focused on things. But, for some reason, when I’m tattooing I can stay focused for hours at a time.”
Reed said McCalllum has “a natural passion” for tattooing.
“The first time (I went to him), I had an idea of what I wanted, and he drew it beautifully. He took the image right out of my head and put it on paper. It was exactly what I wanted,” said Reed, who has received 10 tattoos from McCallum over the past several years. “I had two other tattoos at the time, and I thought they were pretty cool, but after getting a tattoo from Smallz, I was like, ‘This is what tattoos are really like.’ Since then, every time I’ve gone to him, he’s given me exactly what I was looking for.”
The shop has implemented a series of safety protocols to combat the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re not allowing customers to bring their friends or family members,” McCallum said. “They have to wear a mask and leave it on for the entire appointment. We hope, or recommend, that they won’t touch things. And, in between appointments, we’re sanitizing everything. Our shop has an open floor plan, so it’s easier for people to (space out).”
To learn more about Octopi Ink, visit facebook.com/Octopiink LLC.