Upon walking into Southington's Propaganda Ink, fine art pieces hang on the walls beckoning for more than just a cursory glance. If not for the buzz of the tattoo guns, one would think they've walked into an art gallery.
For a moment, owner Steve Molnar looks up to say hello and then it’s back to drawing the outline of his latest tattoo creation. Meanwhile, fellow tattoo artist Cindy Hart Satton of Durham, is in an adjacent room working through the shadowing stage of a tattoo.
Both artists bring a look of realism to the art form that sets the tone for the tattoo shop at 400 N. Main St. Years ago, Satton and Molnar met as undergrads at Paier College of Art in Hamden, Conn.
After graduation, Molnar went into graphic design and freelance illustration, while Satton tried her hand as an illustrator and started a family. After sixteen years in the field, Molnar realized he had nothing left to expand on and was looking for something more soulful. In tattoo art, Molnar felt he could transfer all of his formal knowledge into a fascinating line of work. Propaganda Ink Tattoo and Piercing Parlor was born out of his desire to connect people with his work in a meaningful way.
Molnar says Southington was an easy decision because “people here are really friendly.”
At the same time, the people who sit in the chair are friendly too. Between the quiet moments when the artists are drawing, there is also a steady conversation filling the room. It’s a good thing, because with tattooing, there is some element of discomfort. A friendly and trusting atmosphere makes the experience worthwhile and as painless as tattooing can be.
The tattoo industry is something that had fascinated Satton for years. As her career would follow this interesting new course, she would juggle being a PTA leader, an art guild member as well as play the busy role of hockey mom.
“She has brought the family element out in our shop," piercer John Janus says.
“Over the years, we have all worked in places both up and down. When we opened this place we chose to be reputable,” says Molnar.
In an afternoon’s work, customers were lining up to get inked up by these two artists. Cecily Quincy had driven from Durham to get in on Cindy’s Valentine special.
“It’s amazing how Cindy is at transferring her art from paper to body,” she says.
Satton suggests the transition from paper to skin is the hardest thing she had ever had to learn, but she finds comfort in the fact that "illustration background is my foundation.” As she finishes a tattoo of a cupcake, she adds a cherry on top for the perfect embellishment. Quincy checks out the tattoo much like one would assess a new haircut from the salon chair. She’s happy with her new look.
Apprentices Amy and Dave prep the chair for Satton’s next tattoo client. Soon it will be a full house. Propaganda Ink’s Rick Stanton will be in soon to do one of his more traditional styled pieces on a client. Molnar marvels at how the business has become more and more geared towards women. Sixty percent of his clients are women, he says, because tattooing has become a permanent fashion accessory.
Satton begins the process again, ready for a new artistic endeavor and they all share in a few laughs with Janus, the shop's funny man. Like it’s tattoos, Propaganda Ink has staying power and it’s future seems as colorful as the art created here.
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