Big Brothers Tattoo, Homewood’s first tattoo parlor, is open in the Cherry Creek Shopping Center. The owner, Payton Bernard, does tattoos with his seven employees.
“We have a lot of artists for different things. One does a lot of cover ups. One does a lot of color. We can do pretty much anything,” Bernard said. “Personally, I do a lot of realism. Because that’s more of my style. I like to convey realism. But I have one artist, she just loves line work.”
Bernard said three of his employees are tattoo artists he’s known for a while, but the other four are artists he met when opening Big Brothers. Three of his employees are tattoo apprentices whom he’s teaching.
More than a dozen paintings and drawings of various styles hang on the wall of Big Brothers. All this art is for sale. Bernard said the collection is from artists all around the Chicago area who give him the artwork to sell. Bernard said he wants to support artists in general.
“If someone was like ‘I do sculptures and I want to sell sculptures.’ I’d be like ‘Dude, come on in,’” Bernard said. “My main focus isn’t really that part of the business. I want to do tattoos. But I love art, so I don’t mind.”
Bernard, a 24-year-old Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate, said he’s been drawing since he was a kid, but he didn’t originally aspire to be a tattoo artist.
“My brother actually wanted to be a tattoo artist. And he kind of influenced me to be a tattoo artist,” Bernard said.
Before opening Big Brothers, he was tattooing people at their houses. He said he got his start in tattooing when attending Lincoln College.
“I was just in the dorms tattooing people for little to nothing,” Bernard said.
Bernard said he’s mostly self-taught and learned how to do tattoos by watching other artists at tattoo conventions and other places. He said that before opening Big Brothers, he got his Blood Born Pathogens certification from OSHA.
The Red Cross defines the Blood Born Pathogens certification as, “teach(ing) staff how bloodborne pathogens are spread, how to avoid exposure and what to do if exposed to infectious material.”
Before any new customer gets a tattoo, Big Brothers cleans off the tattoo station with the disinfectant, MetriCide. They use new, clean needles and fresh gloves for every customer. Bernard said that when an artist is tattooing, as a safety precaution, they keep the machine as close to 100% as possible.
Bernard’s original idea for the tattoo parlor name was Pop’s Ink or Pop’s Tattoos, but after leasing a place in Cherry Creek, he thought those names were too similar to another business there.
“I wanted to incorporate family in it some type of way,” Bernard said. “I was just bouncing ideas from other people and then I came up with Big Brothers.”
Bernard said he’s planning for a Big Brothers’ ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration, but a date hasn’t been set.