Steveston Tattoo Company promises the brightest colours for their works of art. The shop itself is a vibrant and eclectic masterpiece with its warm mustard coloured walls, dark gray wainscoting, an ornate chandelier, a mounted deer head wearing a crown, Balinese masks, antique cabinetry, not to mention an array of wall art. It is easy to imagine shrinking the richness and warmth of the décor down to the size of a tattoo.
Steveston Tattoo Company is the new kid in town; having opened for business in December. Owner, Ryan Halter, aka “Mr. Halter”, and his right-hand man, Jesse Strong, met four years ago when Halter tattooed Strong. They are pleased by the warm reception they have received as people stroll into the shop and welcome them to the village. Halter was aware that Steveston was lacking a tattoo shop, and decided to establish his business in this safe and friendly community. He notes that the lack of security bars on Steveston business windows is a refreshing change.
Halter, who is originally from Kindersley, Saskatchewan, has lived in B.C. for nine years. He has always had a love of art and drawing. Prior to being a tattoo artist he was involved in construction and painting. In 1997 he apprenticed at a tattoo shop in Lethbridge, Alberta. Before opening Steveston Tattoo Company, he worked at Dutchman Tattoos in Burnaby for eight years and tips his hat to mentor, John “the Dutchman”, a well respected tattoo artist.
Strong has been a tattoo enthusiast for as long as he can remember. On his twentieth birthday he began an apprenticeship which he finished with Vinnie Ruocco at New World Tattoo in Surrey, an opportunity for which he is grateful.
Getting your first tattoo is a big deal. There are many decisions involved including selecting the artwork, where you will position it, and of course, the long term commitment to place “permanent jewellery” on your skin. Celebrities have made getting inked extremely fashionable, and have helped take away the stigma of tattoos. Although the possibility of removal exists, (remember Angelina Jolie’s long gone “Billy Bob”?), Steveston Tattoo Company recommends researching your tattoo artwork well, and staying open minded when you choose to proceed. Halter and Strong take great pride in their artistry. They will work with you and take into consideration the magnitude of the image, and consider the longevity of the tattoo choice.
In the City of Richmond you must be age eighteen to get a tattoo, and Steveston Tattoo Company will not tattoo anyone younger. Although we shared a joke about the stereotypical drunken sailor who staggers into the tattoo shop, Steveston Tattoo Company will not tattoo anyone under the influence. The shop is as clean as a whistle. They use disposable gloves, single use needles, and the use of autoclave equipment for sterilization. They follow all of the hygienic procedures required by Coastal Health to run a professional and reputable shop.
Halter and Strong are a very warm and entertaining team, and their goal is to make you feel comfortable, whether it is your first, or one of many tattoos. Their diverse clientele ranges from long term customers who are building their collection, who Halter describes as an interesting and fun crowd, to housewives and lawyers. They have tattooed all walks of life; to date their oldest client was a 72-year-old grandmother.
Halter is known by friends as a family man, and is a devoted father and husband. He has three children, ages one, ten and sixteen. He and his family hope to move to the Steveston area soon as the commute from his home is proving to be time consuming. His family enjoys visiting the village and the proximity of the water appeals to him. Both Halter and Strong like the feel of small town Steveston, which is what attracts so many of us here.
Philanthropy is extremely important to Steveston Tattoo Company. In December they donated $20 from every tattoo towards Vancouver’s Covenant House. This year they intend to continue giving back to the community.
Welcome to the village, Steveston Tattoo Company, and thank you for injecting some extra colour into our lives!
110-12020 1st Avenue
written by Sarah Gordon, photos by Sandra Steier