Tattoo artist Paris Pierides journeyed from Cyprus to come to Charlotte. His purpose? To open a tattoo studio. The elaborately decorated Paris Tattoos, which opened this March and is located at 1820 South Blvd., Ste. 102 (next to The Sunset Club and downstairs from Pewter Rose and Tutto Mondo), is proof that he's achieved his mission.
On May 28-30, Pierides will be a guest world-renowned artist at InkFest Live 2010 Tour: The Urban Tattoo Expo, held at Cabarrus Arena and Events Center. The event will feature other guest tattoo artists, as well as graffiti demonstrations, custom cars and bikes, vendors and live music performances.
"I have insisted to the organizers of InkFest to involve the great tattoo studios here in Charlotte," Pierides says. "There are some really amazing artists here that deserve utmost respect. Honestly, I am humbled that I have been bestowed this honor to participate in an event here in Charlotte."
When Pierides decided to move to the Q.C., he spoke with talented Charlotte tattoo artist Rodney Raines of Ace Custom Tattoo. "I asked first what he thought of the idea of me coming here and he gave me his approval. He thought that it was fine," Pierides explains. "I know from my own experience that it's very unpleasant having someone open up on your doorstep."
With that in mind, Pierides opened his shop on South Boulevard, in an attempt to pose a distance between some of the other tattoo studios in Charlotte. "I'm not here to fluff anyone's feathers, he explains. "I'm here to improve tattooing and I want a good relationship with everyone. I tried to research it and leave a distance between myself and other tattoo studios."
Originally born in Zambia, Pierides grew up in South Africa. He discovered tattoos at an early age when he saw a merchant Navy marine's tattoo-covered body. Odd to see in the region during that time period, the ink left a strong impression on Pierides.
"As I grew up, I was always drawing. I even said from an early age that I really had a sort of a secret thing inside me that wanted to tattoo," Pierides says. "But my father was very strict and conservative. He didn't let me go to art school. I went to military system boarding school."
However, after the death of his father, Pierides went to New York to study animation at Parsons The New School for Design. While there, he rediscovered his interest in tattoos when he stumbled upon a man in a pet store with tattoos. Pierides networked to learn about what was then considered an underground tattoo scene.
"So I'd go and visit these shops and they'd be 'hush hush,' tattooing in the basement. It was all very secretive, like the Masons or something."
Pierides graduated as an honors student with a major in illustration. After his schooling, he moved to Cyprus. He kept in contact with tattoo artists around the globe in order to learn more about the business. Pierides, who self-taught himself the art, began by working amateur at a small shop next to a prison. After learning new techniques, he opened his first tattoo shop in Nicosia in 1989.
"I broke my teeth on the soldiers and military aid during the Gulf War," Pierides says.
With an itch to return to America to open his own tattoo studio, Pierides was told that in order to do so, he'd first have to become famous. Entering his work in a variety of tattoo conventions, Pierides began winning in a number of different categories. He compiled an extensive portfolio and applied for the prestigious EB-1 visa, awarded to individuals for extraordinary artistic achievements. In 2008, he was informed that he had won it.
Working with Pierides in his studio is his wife Alexandra Pierides, who specializes in piercings and permanent makeup.
While he is known for his expertise in color tattoos of a surrealistic, fantasy art style, Pierides is always looking to try new things.
In the future, he hopes to become a part of Charlotte's flourishing arts scene. "That's why my studio looks like a gallery. I want to start doing art classes again and taking more time to draw and paint. I want to do the tattooing and the art equally."