“Bloodlines Tattooing” Expands to Trumbull Mall Raymond Ireland’s Artistic Journey


Trumbull Raymond Ireland remembers how unwelcome he felt when he first wanted to become a professional tattoo artist.

“I tried to get jobs in tattoo shops then, but it was so hard,” he said. “I wasn’t what people sought in tattoo artists 20 years ago. It was a whole different tattoo community back then, and there weren’t urban tattoo artists around, and I decided that I wanted to change that.”

Now, he’s opened the fourth current location of his shop, Bloodlines Tattooing and Piercing, this time in the Trumbull Mall.

“I always wanted to expand the business, and they had an opening here, so I applied, and they accepted it,” said Ireland, 47, of Windsor.

Ireland said the Trumbull location officially opened in August and took about two months to get together.

Ireland opened his first shop in his hometown of Waterbury almost ten years ago, which has since closed.

He later opened his first mall location at The Shoppes at Buckland Hills in Manchester, followed by the Meriden Mall. He also has one location in Holyoke, Mass.

Given its location, Ireland said he expects to draw customers to the Trumbull Mall spot.

“I think the traffic here is good because we’re right across from the sneaker store and next door to a nice boutique, so you get a good variety of people that walk by,” he said. It is next to the men’s clothing store Portabella.

Ireland said that while growing up, it was not his dream to become a tattoo artist. He instead describes it as the art finding him.

“It’s just something that fell into my lap,” he said. “I always used to draw, and a friend bought me a tattoo kit for my birthday one year, and it took off from there.”

Ireland began working on tattoos when he was 26 and became dedicated to the art from there.

He could not find work in local tattoo parlours, so he created his own.

“I never worked in a shop, ever,” he said. “I got my license and was tattooing out of my daughter’s mom’s kitchen, my grandmother’s back porch, basically wherever I could until I got into the industry.”

He remembers being overly eager to open his own business and walked over to an Office Max in Waterbury to get business cards drawn up. But when the employee asked him for the name of his business, he was stumped.

“I said, ‘That’s a good question.’ I don’t know what I was thinking then,” he said, laughing at himself. “I was just thinking of getting a card with my phone number. I had no name, so I turned around and walked out.”

But then, he said something came over him on the way to his car that would seal his fate.

“As soon as I grabbed the door handle, it just came to me as if somebody whispered in my ear,” he said. “That’s where ‘Bloodlines’ stemmed from.”

He made red and black his colour scheme.

“I chose red because red is a colour that demands respect and captures the eye,” he said. “When people see a red room, they wonder about it. And black is a complementary colour to red, so it just worked.”

Ireland has 14 staff members at his Trumbull location, with ten tattoo artists and four piercers, including his daughter, Rayn, 20.

“I hope to see growth and for people to find interest in our work,” Rayn Ireland said.

Raymond Ireland said having his daughter work in the store is a bonding experience for them both, and they have a powerful bond with shared passions.

“She’s been exposed to it her entire life. That was her passion; she took it and ran with it,” he said. “She’s been doing it for a while now, so I love that for her.”

Raymond Ireland said he grew up with a strict background and understands the difficulty of breaking into the industry, so he welcomes anyone interested in working for him with open arms.

“My background is why I wanted to do something like this because many people wouldn’t let me in,” he said. “So when I opened my doors, I looked for people like me.”

He said anyone interested in becoming a tattoo artist must be willing to put in the time to master the craft and also should have a genuine interest in what they’re doing.

“If you’re going into it just for the money, this is not for you because you’re going to get frustrated, and you’re not going to be a professional after your first tattoo,” he said. “It takes years to call yourself a true tattoo artist. So if this is something you will do, stick with it because it’s not an overnight thing.”

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