Get to know... Frankie Frieri, artist at Fairfield’s only tattoo parlor
Updated 9:36 am, Friday, December 15, 2017
FAIRFIELD — It wasn’t easy for Frankie Frieri to open up his own business in Fairfield.
In fact, it took the Bridgeport-native five years to bring his idea for Three Roses Studio, Fairfield’s only tattoo parlor, to town in 2016. This was, Frieri believed, because of certain stigmas surrounding tattoo parlors — many involving leather-clad bikers — and the clientele they attract. But from the beginning, Frieri sought to create something unique.
“It’s a different vibe, it’s a different type of place than any other tattoo studio,” Frieri, 40, said, from his studio in the Brick Walk, located in the basement of the Webster Bank building.
It is not the typical shop, with flash tattoos adorning the walls and displayed in binders and multiple artists working in a sterile, often unfriendly environment.
Instead, it is Frieri alone working in a subterranean studio that includes a gallery of fine art and creative work space when you first walk in, and a tattoo chair in a backroom that’s decorated more like a man-cave than a parlo, with Netflix playing on a flat screen, original skateboard decks, a leather couch and Frieri’s drawings hung above the desk where Frieri sits.
Frieri does all custom pieces. Before putting ink to skin, he sets up consultations with prospective clients to discuss design ideas and what a tattoo means to everyone who enters his shop.
“I don’t tattoo everybody who comes in the door. I want to have a relationship with my clients,” Frieri said. “I want to know the story behind why they’re getting tattoos. What is the meaning?”
Once a concept is agreed upon, Frieri draws up the design and sets up an appointment.
“My clientele are college kids from Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University, business men and soccer moms from Fairfield, Westport, Southport,” Frieri said.
Though his pieces are all originals, Frieri — who has painted and drawn since he was young and studied graphic design in college at Sacred Heart University — said he was heavily influenced by Irezumi, which refers to any of several style of traditional Japanese tattoo, and Americana tattoo designs.
“I like the American style because it’s bold. Hard outlines, minimal colors, dark shading. You get an American sleeve and you get bits and pieces and then try to fill in the puzzle. It’s different than the Japanese type of work,” explained Frieri.
“Japanese work is meant to flow on the body. You get a sleeve and everything looks like it’s fit to be there. The Japanese style is also more minimalist. And it usually only depicts a few images. The background is normally finger waves, windbards, clouds, stuff like that.”
After graduating college and working for a short time as a graphic designer, Frieri began tattooing in his mid-20s, apprenticing and then working at a series of shops in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
According to Frieri, the world of tattooing has changed significantly in the decade since he began. Increasingly more shops are opening, saturating the market in some cases. But Frieri said he’s also seen an increase in artistry and a focus on quality as more tattoo artists have emerged.
“Now the artwork is just amazing because you actually have artists who tattoo instead of just having somebody who learned on the job,” Frieri said. “Ten or twenty years ago there were no artists tattooing. Now you have artists blowing people out of the water because they’re using it as a different medium.”
To differentiate himself from others, Frieri is careful to note that Three Roses is not just about tattooing. It’s a creative space where Frieri hosts yoga classes, weekly paint and sip parties, poetry readings and open mic nights.
“It’s not just about tattooing or painting or drawing. It’s about poets, it’s about free-thinkers,” said Frieri. “I want this to be like Switzerland, you know, totally neutral. I want people to come in here and share their thoughts.”