Shooting sparks surge in Dayton-themed tattoos

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Caption
Tattoo artists across Dayton are coming together by hosting a tattooing event where all proceeds will go to the Dayton Foundation for victims of the tragedy.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

More people are getting tattoos to show their Dayton pride in the wake of the mass shooting in the Oregon District.

Artists at Gem City Tattoo Club, located at 426 E. Fifth St., just steps away from the scene of the Aug. 4 shooting, said many people are getting artwork that pays tribute to the place they cherish or call home.

James Collins, owner, said he’s never seen anything quite like it.

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In the tattoo industry, design fads come and go, like barbed wire on the arm, yin and yang symbols, infinity symbols, stars, Tasmanian Devil cartoon characters and finger moustaches.

But this is very different: Dayton was “kicked in the teeth” by the Memorial Day tornado and the tragic shooting, Collins said, and people who feel strongly about the community are getting tattoos to show their support and appreciation.

“I think people feel compelled to not forget what happened,” Collins said.

Collins said he can’t remember a time or event that led to so many people in the area to get body art. Not even the 9/11 terror attacks had the same kind of response, he said.

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Since the shooting tragedy, local residents have flocked to the Gem City Tattoo Club and to other tattoo shops around the city almost every day to get some type of love note to Dayton on their bodies.

There’s always been some interest in Dayton-themed body art. Some community members have Dayton’s area code (937) written somewhere on their skin.

But demand for ink with Dayton subject matter has soared.

Some people have commissioned tattoos that show the outline of the state of Ohio with a red heart or a gem marking Dayton.

Since the Aug. 4 shooting in the Oregon District, local residents have flocked to local tattoo parlors  to get some type of love note to Dayton. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK
Caption
Since the Aug. 4 shooting in the Oregon District, local residents have flocked to local tattoo parlors to get some type of love note to Dayton. STAFF/CORNELIUS FROLIK

Credit: Cornelius Frolik

Credit: Cornelius Frolik

Others now have the signature Dayton gemstone tattooed on their fingers, wrists, hands, ankles or necks.

The mantra “Dayton Strong” spread across the community after the shooting and is scrawled on T-shirts, signs, banners and many Post-it notes stuck on windows and doors throughout the Oregon District.

But many people now have “Dayton Strong” permanently stamped on their bodies, or some derivative, like a gemstone with the word “strong” beneath.

Earlier this week, Kaylie Snyder got a tattoo of Dayton’s skyline beneath her bicep.

She said she’s lived in Dayton 28 years. When tragedy hit close to home, Snyder wanted body art that is meaningful and that forever commemorates her city.

“Now, Dayton will always be with me,” she said.

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Dayton’s had a very difficult year, but how the community has responded to hate and horrible violence is truly impressive and moving, said tattoo artist Misty Dawn Brothers.

“I love Dayton, and I guess I didn’t realize how much I loved it until I saw how everyone reacted to adversity,” Brothers said.

Not all tattoos are meaningful, but they can be a significant and lasting way to show Dayton pride, she said.

Brothers wants a tattoo another artist in her shop drew up. It has the state outline and the word “strong.” But Brothers is going to wait to see if anyone else claims it first.

Some Dayton-related tattoos are playful and fun. Some are more solemn.

Since the Aug. 4 shooting in the Oregon District, local residents have flocked to local tattoo parlors to get some type of love note to Dayton. CONTRIBUTED
Caption
Since the Aug. 4 shooting in the Oregon District, local residents have flocked to local tattoo parlors to get some type of love note to Dayton. CONTRIBUTED

Some staff at Ned Peppers and Hole in the Wall decided to get tattoos of the Ned Peppers’ logo with the number 9 inside, in recognition of the nine people who were killed during the shooting spree.

The violence took place on the sidewalk and street near Ned Peppers, Hole in the Wall and Blind Bob’s. The gunman was shot to death in front of Ned Peppers front entrance.

Every artist at Wells & Co. Custom Tattoo has done at least a couple of Dayton pride or Dayton strong tattoos, said Chad Wells, owner of the shop at 110 E. Third St.

The first tattoo came a day after the shooting when a friend who was a bouncer at Ned Peppers got an image of the bar’s cartoon pepper mascot, he said.

Some of the shop’s artists have been doing Dayton-related tattoos for free kind of as a gift to those people who were there when the shooting happened, he said.

“Also, we have collected money from some of these tattoos to pass on to the Dayton Fund, and we have also done the work for free for clients who showed us their receipts where they had personally donated directly to the fund,” Wells said.