By Riley Katz, Loyola Student News Service
Sailor’s Cross Tattoo and Gallery showcases and sells art from around the country while letting customers design a work of art they can wear forever.
Founder and co-owner of Sailor’s Cross Alejandro “Bear” Sedaca said art and tattoos go hand in hand, and he was surprised to find no other tattoo parlor/art gallery officially existed when he opened Sailor’s Cross. He said combining the two into a single location on Freret Street would help stress the new meaning of tattoos in modern context.
“In the past, tattoo shops were seen as places bikers and felons hung out,” Sedaca said. “Almost all of our artists have been to art and design school, and we are all professionally trained by mentors.”
Lining the right wall of the gallery are submissions from the gallery’s yearly skateboard deck design show, while the rest of the space is reserved for work from other artists. Sedaca said art is submitted from artists both local and national, and the gallery holds art events each year.
“We try to hold around three shows a year, and we are open to almost anyone who wants to showcase their work,” Sedaca said. “We get submissions from all over—from university students and local artists to national artists looking to display their work in new places.”
Sailor’s Cross Tattoo and Gallery will help Community Records celebrate its 10-year anniversary concert series. The anniversary celebration will be held over three days at Hey! Cafe and Gasa Gasa from March 9 through March 11, and Sailor’s Cross will feature promotional artwork and other designs from the record company’s decade in operation.
On Saturday, March 10, the designers at Sailor’s Cross will be working with Community Records to offer attendees mini flash tattoos commemorating the event.
“If the attendees want to take a break from dancing, they can come and relax, get a small tattoo and then jump back onto the dance floor,” Sedaca said.
He said laid-back atmosphere is the reason he and the other artists continue to succeed. “Our motto here is ‘Do good work, and treat people right,’ ” Sedaca said. “It is important to me that every single person who comes in here has a positive experience and leaves with a piece he or she is happy with.”
Sedaca said when a person comes in to get a tattoo, the process involves talking to the customer about his or her vision, and then choosing the right artist on the team to turn the idea into a work of art.
“All of us have drastically different styles, and that style diversity helps us make exactly what customers want when they come here,” Sedaca explained.
Bad experiences working under different tattoo artists inspired Sedaca to open a tattoo parlor on Oak Street in 2014, which became the original Sailor’s Cross location.
Sedaca reached out to his longtime friend and colleague Malaika “Mecca” Burke to see if she wanted to join forces in the move to the new location. After searching for a new space, Sedaca found an opening at 5010 Freret St., which became the store’s current location one year later in 2015.
There are four artists working at Sailor’s Cross with over 30 years of tattooing experience. Sedaca said the team are friends as well as co-workers. “We constantly are together after close,” Sedaca said. “We are practically family at this point.”
Burke has been tattooing for eight years, and has known Sedaca since working at a tattoo shop seven years ago.
“I always loved art, and I had a friend who worked at a tattoo shop.” Burke said. “After hanging out there and drawing and making art, I wanted to try inking a tattoo. I used that shop as a platform and worked my way up to better shops.”
Burke said she loves making colorful and illustrative designs, but that sometimes she is pigeonholed as a watercolor artist as she likes to color outside the lines.
Tattoo artist Rachel Unm has been tattooing for seven years. “I have always loved art, and [I] graduated college in art and design,” she said. “After that, I became an apprentice because I loved tattoos.”
Unm describes her design style as illustrative with black and gray dotwork, similar to stippling.
Sedaca has been tattooing for 14 years, initially the least desired job on his list.
“When I started working as in-store help at a tattoo parlor, I had no intention of ever tattooing. I wanted to work in animation and design field,” Sedaca said. “I was really hard headed, but the shop owner liked my work and kept pushing me to try it. I finally tried it, and ended up loving it.”
Sailor’s Cross is open from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday and from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
The Loyola Student News Service features reporters from advanced-level journalism classes at Loyola University New Orleans, directed by faculty advisers.