South Portland tattoo parlor adds color to city's business landscape

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SOUTH PORTLAND — The city’s only licensed tattoo artists are also owners of what they call its  first “fine-art” tattoo business.

Danielle Madore and Carrie-Anne Vinette are the artists and proprietors of Black Hen Studio at 79A Ocean St. in Knightville.

Vinette and Madore – the only licensed tattoo artists in the city, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services Division of Environmental Health Inspection – said they like the neighborhood’s appeal and its business diversity. Plus, nearby Portland boasts about 20 tattoo studios and parlors, leaving minimal room for competition.

After spending many years at studios in Portland, they said it was time to look for new territory. 

“(Ocean Street) had the right kind of atmosphere,” Madore said. Nearby business proprietors have been entirely supportive, and Cia Cafe owner Jeannie Dunnigan has been a “huge cheerleader” throughout the process, Madore said. 

Proximity to Portland and difference in cost of the small neighborhood has recently attracted several new businesses, including Cia, Mainely Labs Studio, Alaina Marie, The Farm Stand, and Ampersand Elements. A brew pub is also in the works at 15 Ocean St.

“We wanted it to be simple,” Madore said. “The simple, for us, gives us (more) focus to create for people. Carrie and I are pretty aligned in that way.”

Moreover, “we have similar ideas for tattooing and how we want to run a business,” Vinette said. 

Madore and Vinette are native Mainers and both earned art degrees from in-state schools: Vinette studied sculpture at the University of Maine, and Madore earned her undergraduate degree from Maine College of Art. Both worked most recently for Sanctuary Tattoo & Fine Art Gallery in Portland.

Because of both women’s backgrounds, Black Hen is tailored to custom, fine-art tattooing – although more traditional body art is always an option, Madore said.

Madore and Vinette also wanted a smaller, more intimate operation.

They installed dark hardwood floors in the space, where light fills the room from the storefront window and guests can make themselves comfortable on a window seat overflowing with cushions.

Ensuring the space was well-lit was a conscious decision made, in part, to repel stereotypical perceptions of tattoo parlors as dark, dank spaces. 

The brightness is meant to make the space “not so intimidating,” Vinette said. 

While it is already open for business, a more formal grand opening will be held Thursday, June 4. Hours will be 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and Sunday and Monday by appointment. 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-361 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA.  

Sidebar Elements

An example of the tattoo work at Black Hen Studio in South Portland.

Danielle Madore, left, and Carrie-Anne Vinette at their fine-art tattoo business, Black Hen Studio in South Portland’s Knightville neighborhood.

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.