Body Art, Like Wedding Vows, Written in Permanent Ink

| 16 Feb 2015 | 11:02

New local tattoo shop run by husband and wife team

Tattoo artist Grant Lubbock, 28, doesn't do uncertainty. For Lubbock, life is a series of decisive gut-checks: feel, react, and repeat ? ad infinitum ? until death ends the cycle.

It's that attitude that drew him to teach himself how to tattoo on his own leg. It's what moved him from his home state of California to New York and open Red Baron Ink at 621 East 11th Street last October. And it's what sent him flying headfirst into marriage a mere five months after his first date with Giselle Azcona, native New Yorker, this March.

"When you know, you know," Lubbock says with a nonchalant shrug.

When Azcona, also 28, met Lubbock, she was equally certain. In fact, she popped the question. The couple met at Blackbird, an East Village watering hole down the block from Lubbock's tattoo parlor, and as the days melted into months, Azcona became more and more certain of the permanence of their partnership.

"I was at home, just lying in bed, and I realized that I knew it wasn't ever going to get any better than this," Giselle says. She sent him a text asking if he'd marry her; five days later they tied the knot at City Hall, and Azcona became Giselle Lubbock.

Now, the couple runs Red Baron Ink together; they've turned the 230 square foot space into their own intimate, entrepreneurial nook of the city, creating a warmth through soft candle lighting, which illuminates the homespun folk art on the walls.

"We want it to feel like your living room," Grant says.

A living room not just for the those coming for tattoos, but for the artistic community at large. And so Giselle and Grant have decided to open up their wall space to local artists. The couple invites visual artists in the area to contact the store owners to have their work hung and sold in the tattoo parlor. All the proceeds from the sales go straight to the artists.

As for those New Yorkers interested in becoming the canvas themselves, the Lubbocks tattoo pricing averages out to $150 per hour, though for more labor-intensive work, discounted rates may apply. For the winter holidays; shoppers will be able to buy gift cards to the parlor at cut rates ($150 for a $200 tattoo, $300 for a $400 tattoo, etc.), that they can then give over to friends.

Whether or not those friends want to cash in will, of course, depend on their mentality around body art.

"There are three types of clients," Grant asserts. "First there are the confident people, the ones who know they want it, and have known for a while. Then there are the spur-of-the-moment people, who have decided on the spot this is something they're interested in. Finally, there's the one percent."

The uncertain one percent. The people who aren't sure. "If I can see it in their eyes, that doubt? I send those people home," says Grant.

Don't count Grant or Giselle in that uncertain category. After getting married, the couple got "Til death do us part" tattooed onto their hands. The piece was done in Giselle's handwriting; Grant worked the needle, as he does for all the body art on his own body.

But how do you know you want something on your body forever? How do know your tastes and feelings won't change?

"It needs to mean something," Giselle says. "The other day, a woman got a tattoo portrait of her dog. That'll always mean something to her, you know? And as soon as Grant and I met, it was like? could we have waited? Of course we could've. But why?"

"Carpe diem," Grant adds.

"Sieze the day, baby," agrees Giselle. "Why not?"

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Local artists interested in displaying their work at Red Baron can contact Grant and Giselle at