The Story of Small-Town Studio
by: Laura Walter
When people drive through the small town of New Freedom, PA they are more than likely to drive past old antique stores, mom and pop shops, quickie marts and barber shops.
But residing in a hideaway street is BoomTown Tattoo Studios, owned by Paul Jones, who’s been tattooing for over 20 years.
Jones said he named BoomTown after a David&David song called “Welcome to BoomTown”, which is about urban sprawl. “Since New Freedom is becoming like that I thought it would be appropriate,” said Jones.
Jones first became interested in tattooing as a teenager when he would see his older sister’s friends all inked up. “I just thought it was super cool,” Jones said.
When Jones was 16 he made a “homemade tattoo machine” which consisted of an electric motor, toothbrush and a guitar needle. After years of learning the trade from friends, Jones now owns and operates BoomTown Studios almost entirely by himself.
The process of getting a tattoo is fairly simple. Most people now-a-days find designs online and will print them out to bring to the artist. “Fifteen years ago you’d get stuff off the wall, but now everyone brings things in from off the Internet,” said Jones. He would then take the picture and “revamp it” to suite the person’s own specific wants.
Jones’ favorite thing about tattooing is getting to be creative, but he said, “A lot of the time they (the tattoos) aren’t your personal art, just designs. I don’t really have any sort of signature because I feel like you kinda lose your personality in them.”
After the design has been chosen, Jones will create a sort of stencil transfer, which leaves a blue outline of the tattoo on the skin. Then Jones does the outline in black ink, continued by filling it in with the color.
“A general rule of thumb is darkest to lightest. You wouldn’t want to put yellow in first because it would be muddied if you followed it by black,” said Jones.
The majority of BoomTown clients come back for more tattoos after they get their first one. “It seems when you get one, you gotta get another,” said Jones.
Jones’ longest tattoo session was nine hours long, but usually sessions will range between two and four hours.
BoomTown is open from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. His least favorite thing about being a tattoo artist is the hours, “The hours get old. Feels like I’m here all the time and missing out on stuff with the family,” Jones said.
But Jones loves his job, “I’m not saving the world ya know? I’m just tattooing. Some guys (other tattoo artists) act like they have the cure for cancer. I’m just tattooing,” he said.