Freshly Inked Interview with Brandon Schultheis

Shop Instagram: @blacksailsstudio
So, tell us about your team. Have you guys been friends for a long time? How did you meet? 
I'm incredibly fortunate to work with one of my good friends, Joe Friedman (@needlebeetle). I met Joe back in 2014 when I tattooed him a few times. We hit it off and have a lot in common. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as a person as well his for his artwork. We discussed the possibility of working together back then, and when it was time for me to hire artists to work at my studio, he was at the top of my list. 

How did you come up with the name BlackSails Studio? Was there another name you almost picked?
It's a play on my initials actually, plus Sayville is a coastal town on the south shore of Long Island. A lot of my childhood was spent on the water, and I draw a lot of inspiration from the ocean, so I thought a nautical theme would be fitting for the studio.
Was it a long journey finding the right location for the shop?
Not really, I had my heart set on Sayville for a while.  When this particular space became available, I immediately fell in love with it and saw the potential for the atmosphere I wanted to create. It's a cool little town with a lot of good restaurants and shops, so there's more to offer to clients before or after their tattoo sessions.
Someone walking into your studio for the first time, what should they expect?
The thing that most people say the first time is that it doesn't look anything like a tattoo shop, which was definitely my intention. In my opinion it's way more relaxed and comfortable than a traditional studio. I wanted to create a space that was comfortable for both the artists and clients. It's a private setting, appointment only, hard to find, and there's no phone or walk-ins, which is conducive to creating my best work.
Describe your shop in three words.
Calm. Clean. Comfortable.
What do you look for in a client?
Open-mindedness, which most of my clients are. I like to think I attract like-minded clients, those who appreciate my style and approach to tattooing. But I think it's the client that should be looking for something in me, rather than the other way around. I'm very fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living, and on top of that be particular with what I do. I try to maintain the highest level of professionalism and give them not only the best tattoo I'm capable of doing, but an overall tattoo experience that they'll be happy to remember.   
Do you see a lot of the same faces coming in the shop?
Absolutely, a majority of my clients are repeat collectors. I'm very grateful for the amount of skin that so many people dedicate to my art. Since I work on a large-scale basis most of the time, it only allows me to take on new clients every so often. Not only do I appreciate my loyal clients from 12 years ago, but also the new ones who are willing to wait such a long time to get in with me.

Where do you see the shop in the future? 
I'm extremely content with how things have been going for the last year and a half. I've had some incredible guest artists spend time at the studio and have a bunch planned for the rest of this year. In the future, the studio may expand, but I'm happy with a small group that's focused on art and a setting that allows the freedom to enjoy life outside of the shop as well.
How do you feel since becoming a shop owner? 
Not really any different, however, there are some added responsibilities but nothing that's too overwhelming or prevents me from doing what I need to do on an artistic level. Although the initial startup was a little stressful trying to balance that and my heavy workload, everything has since stabilized and it kind of runs itself at this point.

Has it been something you wanted for a long time?
Actually, I had planned on opening a private studio years ago, but then other opportunities came along that allowed me to work with high caliber artists and travel the world. So those plans got put on hold until about 10 years into tattooing when I felt it was the right time and place. Working for yourself is amazing; I wouldn't trade it for anything. 
What's the motto or outlook you have on your shop? 
I created high standards from day one. I like to hold myself accountable for performing at a high level artistically, as well as maintaining an environment for the other artists around me which keeps everyone motivated and happy to come to work every day and take as much pride in the studio as I do.
Something you want people to know about your shop?
We appreciate everyone who supports BlackSails Studio. There are many great shops out there and Joe and I are really lucky that so many people choose us for their tattoos. We wouldn't have anything or any studio without the clients, so we're constantly trying our best to repay that gratitude.

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