Five Questions with Tina Sulano

“I think riding and tattoos are similar because like a tattoo, your bike is an expression of who you are.” 

Tina with her Ninja 250R

Tina with her Ninja 250R


Tina dressed in 50's style

Tina dressed in 50’s style

Tina is a tattoo artist and motorcycle rider who lives in Roxbury, New Jersey. Here are some of her thoughts about riding and tattooing.

What is it about body ink that fascinates you and how does it inspire you as an artist?

Tattoos are fascinating because it’s something that is forever (well almost). People can express themselves through tattoos as well as remember a certain time or honor a certain person in their life. Everyone seems to have a story for their tattoos, more so now that it has gone so main stream. I like being a part of their story. My customers inspire me, and my main goal is to make them happy. I want to make sure I can create the image they have in their head. When I see their eyes light up when they see the final result, I’m happy.

Do you prefer to do color or black and grey tattoos? Why?

Me, personally, I like both. I have mostly black and grey for the soul purpose that it matches everything you wear. I enjoy doing color tattoos because you can really make things “pop,” especially if the tattoo is a decent size and the customer is willing to let me do my thing and add my touch. They still get what they want, but there are some things that can be done to make color look so much better. I enjoy doing black and grey tattoos because I know even after baking in the sun for a couple years it will still look pretty good. Just remember, sun block is your friend people!

What’s the most fascinating story you’ve heard about a tattoo so far?

I have heard so many stories I can’t pick just one off the top of my head. I have tattooed a whole family because they lost someone close to them – a 24-year-old that died of lung cancer. Most of the stories I remember are the ones about loosing a family member because they touch my heart more than anything

With tattoos being more accepted, do you think it is more difficult for artists to continue to create something unique? 

The creation comes from the clients head, I help elaborate but it’s pretty much their idea. There is still people that come in and pick a picture off the wall, but now it’s searching google and printing a tattoo that is already on someone else’s body. I try to draw something original for each person and I toss my drawings when I’m done. I don’t want anyone to copy something I already did. Even though I know how easy it is for people to print a picture of one of my tattoos and bring it somewhere, I would just hope the artist is kind enough to draw their own version of it. I don’t think it’s difficult to make something unique because each customer has their own image, as long as their not “picking off the wall”.

It is definitely more competitive now than when I started over 12 years ago.  There was three local shops back then, and now there is at least 12 shops in a 20-mile radius. With the way the economy is right now it’s tough for people to spend their money on something like a tattoo because it’s not something you need to have, it’s something you want. Some people make the mistake of shopping around for the cheapest price. About one percent of the customers that walk in the door ask to see my portfolio. I know some of them searched for the shop online and saw my work on the website, but that’s usually just the younger crowd. If customers went by what’s in your portfolio there wouldn’t be any competition, especially in my area.

Why do you love riding and why do you love tattoos? 

I love riding for the freedom. It’s like an escape from reality. I love tattoos because it makes me money and I make people happy. I think riding and tattoos are similar because like a tattoo, your bike is an expression of who you are. They both make people happy.