Skate and Ink, Just like the Old Days
by Jay Revelle
Thankfully, and in stark contrast to recent trends, the days of hardcore skate and tattoo shops aren't over. In Edmonton, for example, sits a classic example of the type of shop that every social outcast and scumbag skater of yesteryear can be proud of: Showdown Tattoo.
Thriving within the urban landscape of a colourful Edmonton ghetto, owners Steve Batt and Dustin Lowry set out in April 2007 to strengthen their local scene by providing a place for the type of skateboarding brotherhood that was perhaps more common during skateboarding’s previous heydays. Set within the walls of an old building filled with a character all its own—circa 1916—Showdown Tattoo embodies the ideal mix between tattoo artistry and the culture of skateboarding, all tied together in just the right package. The shop’s walls are adorned with classic and old school skate memorabilia and welcomes customers with an aura that causes many to comment when walking through the doors. Thus, since its opening, the shop has gathered quite a following based on this “old skateshop/tattoo shop feel”, relates co-owner Lowry. “We are dirtbags,” he says, “and so many skaters miss the days of being shunned and rejected. The corporate involvement in skating has no place in our shop.”
Overall, the shop prides itself on it “roots” type of stance: Deluxe brands such as Indy, Thrasher, Creature, and Consolidated, etc., fill the skateboarding side of the shop, which Lowry is the manager of. Meanwhile, fellow friend and skater Max Poulter puts his best foot forward and fills in the gaps. Furthermore, the shop’s ties to Edmonton’s skate scene are also close, as the shop considers itself part of Edmonton’s well-known Plush/Famous family.
In the tattoo side of the shop, three ink artists man the ship—co-owner Batt runs the show joined by artists Chris Iwaniuk and Andrew Christou. After the day’s work is done, time is often spent entertaining another shop pastime: the popular Wheel of Fortune TV show.
“As a team, every night at 5:30PM, we put the Wheel of Fortune on the shop TVs and destroy all! We are waiting for them to have a scumbag week so we can get on!!” Lowry states with unbridled enthusiasm.
Any other moments between duties is sometimes spent entertaining the random ghetto crack heads that happen to wander in from the eclectic mix of street life swirling around like a cloud outside the front door. Due to such close proximity, break-ins have, on occasion, put a damper on daily operations, but Showdown Tattoo takes it all in stride, proud to be a part of the area’s colorful social landscape.
Personally, this was my first encounter with Showdown, and it didn’t take long to pick up on their overall sense of brotherhood and their flair for creating an aura of nostalgia. In the age of mall skateshops and scumsucking corporate elites, you should definitely come on down to Showdown Tattoo and pick yourself a letter. Lowry, Batt, and the rest of the crew, plus Vanna White herself, are waiting.
For more info, check the article on Showdown Tattoo in Knowshow Magazine, the mag of Canada's premiere lifestyle trade show!