The shop at 44 Wyckoff Avenue has been a home to several tattoo shops in the past few years, but the location has not remained in the hands of any particular owner for very long.
However, it seems that the third time might be the charm: It is currently operating under the name Do or Die Tattoo, and it’s owned and operated by veteran tattoo artist Pete Dutro.
A little history of the space: the first tattoo shop, and the most infamous one, that was housed within its walls in recent years was Morning Star Tattoo, which closed after the owner, James “Dakota” Bond, fled the state after savagely beating his then-girlfriend and going on the lam for over eight months. It then reopened as All Hail Tattoo, which abruptly closed early this past summer, giving no notice to the organizers of a music and art festival it was scheduled to participate in.
One artist, Elvio Critelli, who has worked at the location throughout all of the changes, sheds some light on All Hail’s problems thus: “The previous owner wasn’t an artist … The artists didn’t get along with the owner and quit.”
Dutro, who has been tattooing for over two decades, explains that “running a tattoo business is a very different type of thing [from tattooing]. When you are not a tattooer and you try to manage a tattooer, said tattooer is always going to look down on you.” According to both Dutro and Critelli, All Hail’s team tried its best, but ultimately, management and the artists butted heads too often to make it work.
Dutro has run Do or Die Tattoo since June 3 of this year. He has his own personal philosophy about tattooing as an art that he tries to uphold in his work.
“In the past, [tattooing trade secrets were] a lot more closely guarded,” he recalls. He wants to keep a certain sacredness alive in the art that he feels is being lost; his goal with for Do or Die is to maintain that respect for the work.
“We do quality tattoos. I wouldn’t say we necessarily work in a strict style, but we come from the tradition of, ‘you should be able to do it all’. We’re still trying to apply the rules of tattooing because there are rules … and you must master them before you break them.”
The current shop features artists who have been mastering their craft for a long time, so here’s to Do or Die living at 44 Wyckoff Avenue for years to come!
Do Or Die Tattoo
Tattoo shop on Wyckoff Avenue accepting walk-ins and appointments
44 Wyckoff Avenue (off the Jefferson St stop in the L train)
Mon-Sun: 12:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Featured image: Dutro (left) and Critelli outside their shop on Wyckoff Avenue. Photo by Suzanna Heldring for Bushwick Daily.