By Deb Everts
Tucked away in the corner of Red Apple Plaza in Ellicottville is EVL Ink Tattoo & Apparel. The trendy studio is the place to go for people who wish to celebrate their life or the life of somebody important to them in the art form of a tattoo.
Owner and artist Vinny “Chenzo” Bielli opened his shop five years ago this month at 5 East Washington St. in an old, renovated furniture factory. The shop has an edgy look with visible ductwork and the original, corrugated tin ceiling and brick walls from the old upholstery shop were incorporated into an interesting space. Two rooms are designated for tattooing, and there is also a cozy waiting area.
Bielli hired a new artist, Bill Barrante of Buffalo, not long after his opening in 2013. He said they are currently very busy and booked out until December.
“Business is pretty steady, but it fluctuates with Ellicottville’s up and down times,” he said. “Of course, I get more business whenever there’s a big event in town like Mardi Gras and the Fall Festival.”
Bielli said they use the most up-to-date methods and products to create their body art. He constantly buys new tattoo machines that come out two or three times a year. Everything is always brand new and sanitary. He said they always go above and beyond health department standards.
“The health department comes in periodically to check the facility for pathogens and to make sure everything is up to code,” he said. “The inks and needles are brand new each time a client comes in for a tattoo. Even the grips I hold are brand new and everything is disposable. It doesn’t get much cleaner than that.”
Bielli makes his daily commute from East Otto, where he grew up. A graduate of Cattaraugus Central School, he has always loved art and has been drawing for as long as he can remember. After high school, he took his portfolio to a West Seneca tattoo studio to show them his artistic ability.
“I apprenticed there (at West Seneca) for the first eight months — pumping out drawings and learning the trade of tattooing,” he said. “Then I started tattooing family, friends and myself. I did the first tattoo on my dad.”
Bielli chose human skin as his canvas because he liked the permanency of tattoos. He said “an artist can create a painting and it can be thrown away or someone can destroy it but, on skin, the artwork is permanent forever.”