Mordor Tattoo brings tattooing to Arlington
August 27, 2008 · Updated 5:08 PM
ARLINGTON Mirkwood has gained its latest Tolkien-themed business, and Arlington has gained its first tattoo parlor.
Richard Choptij is running Mordor Tattoo in the upper floor of Mirkwood now, but he began apprenticing as a tattoo artist more than a dozen years ago, back when he was much more strait-laced than his current customers might guess.
I was in my 20s, working in the corporate field for Cola-Cola, when I was downsized, Choptij said. I was crashing on my brothers couch in New York when I met his friend, Douglas White, of Illustrated Figure Tattoo in Staten Island. I apprenticed with him for two years, just so I could have a source of income that wasnt dependent upon the job market. Looking back on it, it was the best investment I ever made.
After receiving his certification and working in Brooklyn and Manhattan for the next two years, Choptij worked under Tom Karlsten at Tattoo Evolution, which he still considers one of the more reputable shops in Everett, from 1999-2004. From 2004-2006, Choptij and his family lived in South Florida, where he worked for Kurt Sicko Henning at Funhouse in Ft. Lauderdale, and Bruce Rossmeyer at Level 5 Tattoo in Hollywood, Fla.
Ive been very fortunate to work around some very talented people, Choptij said. Last year, one year after the birth of our daughter, we realized how important a family support network was. I was working in Marysville when I was presented with a unique opportunity in Arlington, to open the first tattoo studio Arlington has ever seen.
Choptij describes tattooing as a field thats constantly evolving, which allows him continual opportunities to learn new techniques in his craft.
It lets me meld my personal and professional lives, Choptij said, gesturing to his own tattoos. The equipment has improved so much in 15 years, from needles that you had to build yourself to ones that you can buy now. Since its gaining a mainstream appeal, I feel responsible for upholding a standard of etiquette in my business.
While Choptij is well-versed in a variety of styles, his preferences tend toward what he deems comic book-style illustration, with vivid colors and dark blacks and grays, but hes always looking to challenge himself by trying something new.
Im always holding myself to strict critical scrutiny, Choptij said. My greatest work is out on the road, on peoples bodies.
Mordor Tattoo boasts full-service body modification, from tattoos and piercings to permanent cosmetics. Choptij expressed excitement about bringing his craft to a community that he looks forward to raising his family in.
I see a real rebirth in this town, a transformation, Choptij said. I love this space that I have to work in. I love the history of this building, and I love the view it gives me. My kids are going to be growing up here, going to some great schools. I hope we can become a part of the local landscape for many years to come.
Mordor Tattoo is located in Mirkwood and is open from 2-10 p.m., seven days a week.