GRIFFITH | Vito Saulytis paid his inky dues for 14 years before opening his new Rock-N-Ink tattoo parlor in May in Griffith’s Woodland Court mall.
After a career as a union painter in Chicago, Saulytis worked at a string of tattoo emporiums including Fine Tattoos, Augies Place, Doc Finn’s and Ancient Art. He learned what customers liked and what they didn’t. He brought this hands-on knowledge to his own studio, with the desire to make it one of Indiana’s most comfortable tattoo boutiques.
“Cleanliness, attitude and artistic sensibility are some of the elements that are important to most people seeking a tattoo, especially someone who has a couple under their belt. I designed and built Rock-N-Ink from the ground and studs up to be the kind of establishment that I’d like to see more of in the market,” says Saulytis, who serves as the boutique’s sole employee.
Saulytis invested $25,000 in his space, located at 2049 W Glen Park Ave in Griffith, on a complete build-out that includes new state-of-the-art equipment and fixtures.
His personal tattoo machines were hand made by Mike Godfrey, of Los Angeles, and Aaron Cain. He only uses technologically advanced new inks like Fusion and Eternal, which yield colors that were unavailable 20 years ago. And color is the key to Saulytis’ interest in tattooing: he started his career as an airbrush artist, then became a painter.
Saulytis won a scholarship to the Art Institute of Chicago based on his airbrush skills. He continues to craft original works of art, which are for sale at his shop, and applies the same techniques to a new canvas: flesh.
“Look at a tattoo from 20 or 30 years ago – they’re all two dimensional and flat. Today many customers expect a three dimensional, complex piece of art. My airbrush experience allows me to provide the subtle shading and color gradations that define modern tattoo art,” Saulytis said.
That being said, he still cranks out $30 tattoos for the customer who just wants to dip their toe in his inkwell.
“Once they get the bug, their imaginations start to flow along with the ink,” said Saulytis, who is already building a strong repeat clientele.
His biggest job?
“Covering up several bad tattoos on a woman’s leg with one good one. I wrapped a python from her calf to the top of her thigh,” he said.
It took 12 hours.