When Bob McNure was 17 years old, living in Georgia and drawing pictures on his friends just for kicks, he had a run in with a local tattoo artist who told him to back off or, well, he won’t say exactly what, but McNure got the distinct impression it’d be bad.
- PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
- POLLY WANT SOME SKIN ART? : After an eight-year search, Bob McNure (center) and his wife, Claire Gorrindo (right), were able to open up their own tattoo shop, Painted Pirate Ink in Morro Bay. Along with Jeremiah Adams (left), they’re still putting the finishing touches on the shop, but clients are already welcome.
“And I said to myself, ‘I must be doing something right,’” McNure remembers.
Not that it mattered, because soon after, McNure turned 18 and joined the Army. After a few years, he got out of the service and started working for that same tattoo artist.
Now McNure’s got about 20 years of tattooing behind him, and he’s learned a few things.
First: He hates cleaning up another person’s mess.
“It’s painful to me when somebody comes in with half of their bicep covered in a black tragedy and they’re like, ‘Oh, what can you do for it?’” he said.
Second: It’s harder to open a tattoo shop than you might think. McNure’s been searching for his own shop here ever since he hopped off a west-bound train from Florida eight years ago. He inked his way around the Central Coast for a while, tattooing from Pismo Beach to Cayucos. But when it came to opening a new parlor, McNure got the cold shoulder time and time again from landlords. Even alongside his wife, Claire Gorrindo, and three kids ages 3 to 7, the couple couldn’t seem to break the stigma that tattoos are the sole domain of murderous bikers and tweakers.
“Everybody was the sweetest people in the world until they found out we wanted a tattoo shop,” McNure said.
But McNure and Gorrindo finally got their break when an old antique shop became available in Morro Bay. Now Painted Pirate Ink, 1610 Main St. in Morro Bay, is technically open, but McNure and Gorrindo missed their planned grand opening. They’re taking on customers while they continue gutting, painting, and rearranging the large concrete space.
McNure and Gorrindo have so far decked out the walls with as much inky art as possible in the short time since they began taking on McNure’s old clients, and a few from his fellow skin artist, Jeremiah Adams. And they’re still figuring out where to build a wall to separate off a piercing station.
Inside, the concrete walls and floors echoed heavy metal mixed with boings and whistles of a TV while one of the couple’s kids sat happily watching cartoons in the corner.
Technically, because of some red tape, Painted Pirate Ink is a tattoo machine manufacturing company that also does tattoos and piercing. McNure said he also grinds out plates for tattoo machines on the side.
It’s all a “work in progress” at the moment. About one-third of McNure’s clients are walk-ins, while the rest are his longtime, loyal customers. He’s relying on word of mouth at the moment, but clearly wants to start putting ink to skin, gun to flesh, as much as possible.
The best way to get ink in your arm—or whichever appendage you desire—is the old-fashioned way, McNure said, by calling 225-1144. McNure’s not much of a techie, but he said customers can also check out the shop’s page on Facebook, facebook.com/PaintedPirateInk.
He and Gorrindo are going to keep gussying up the shop as they go. They’ve already got an olde-timey nautical map covering the main lobby wall, and a few paintings by McNure and his buddies hang along the long, sparse walls.
“I want this place to look amazing,” McNure said as he bounced through the shop like a giddy kid with a new fort. “I want it to be inspiring, and I want it to be fun.”
GO QUICK! If you get scooting, you can still make the 9:30 a.m. press conference on June 21 at the San Luis Obispo Property and Business Owners Association, 250 Prado Road, Suite E-2. But if you miss it, here’s the scoop. Paul J. Beard II, the principal attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Property Rights Group, will be the speaker at the SLOPBOA lunch meeting at noon, June 21, at Café Roma in San Luis Obispo. …
Summer’s here, and how better to while away the hours than with a book? Better yet, give county children the gift of reading by helping out a local library. You can send your donation to the 2012 Children’s Summer Reading Program through the Foundation for San Luis Obispo County Public Libraries. Make donations at slolibraryfoundation.org. Gifts of $500 or more will be prominently acknowledged on the foundation’s website.
News Editor Colin Rigley despises mouthy parrots. Send items for consideration to [email protected].