Changing perceptions at Temple of Tattoo

Vancouver-based tattoo studio bringing the art form “back to the sacred”

Lady Bond

TattooingEnter Lady Bond’s Temple of Tattoo along Grand Boulevard near Mill Plain in Vancouver, and you may find yourself wondering if you’re at a day spa.

The Zen-like atmosphere that the shop features is all part of a well-thought-out, authentic way to differentiate the business from other tattoo studios in the region, according to owner/artist Lady Bond, who opened Temple of Tattoo in 2012.

“When I worked for someone else [in Portland] I was my own independent contractor and I was my own artist, but I was still a piece of a larger design and their brand, if you will,” said Bond. “So when I opened up my own tattoo studio, I was nervous because you’re basically taking who you really are and making it known to everybody. I didn’t want to open up just another tattoo studio… I want it to say ‘this is who I am,’ and I want to be as authentic and honest as I can that this is my practice.”

Inside the studio, earth-toned walls, potted bamboo plants and soothing music have a calming effect on those entering the shop. You won’t find walls plastered with pictures of skulls and crossbones.

“I want to bring tattooing a little bit back to the sacred,” Bond explained. “This is something that has been done for thousands of years and it has always been to mark right-of-passage, people growing, to celebrate family, to celebrate the loss of loved ones and to celebrate coming into this world. I want to bring it back to that.”

The tattoo industry has grown leaps and bounds since Bond left the corporate world for a more artistic career path. Once reserved for sailors and bikers, she said today’s tattoo artists are entering the field with strong artistic backgrounds and even college degrees.

However, she acknowledged that tattoos and tattoo studios have a ways to go in terms of battling old stigmas and gaining wider acceptance.

“You have a lot of people that look at tattoo shops as maybe not a credible business because there’s been a stigma for so many years that the people who go into the industry lack business skills or that they don’t have a business plan or business goals,” Bond said. “You’re seeing this development of legitimate business owners who want to have a nice solid foundation, who want to have legitimate artists who do good work and who have fingers in other things – aftercare products, other marketing, artistic prints. They are actually becoming very competitive.”

Since opening, Temple of Tattoo has seen steady business growth and an increase in the number of tattoo artists working out of the studio. Bond’s regular clients include people from all walks of life, including professionals from the local business community – doctors, dentists, attorneys, etc.

It doesn’t hurt that Bond’s tattoo business is located in an area of the country that’s known for its inked individuals, but at the end of the day, she said it’s the community that matters most.

“I love Vancouver,” Bond said. “My husband has a business downtown, we’re involved in downtown events, in the community and we know a lot of people in this area. So for me to [start] my practice in Portland and to move back here to Vancouver helps me stay a little bit closer to the community that I support.”