A young Frenchman lies prone on a plastic covered tattoo table. His t-shirt reveals two full sleeves and makes me think this probably isn’t his first time in a tattoo parlor. His two (!) girlfriends sit absorbed in their phones and talking of which pub they want to visit afterwards. There is Cyprus Hill playing over the speakers telling us about B-Real sippin’ on a forty, puffin’ on a blunt. Most notably is the buzzzzzzz of the tattoo gun and Černý Petr nose down over the Frenchman’s lower right calf shading a skull and dagger.
One Love Tattoo is tucked down a side street behind Týn Church, and has the appearance of a classic tattoo parlor. Skateboard decks, walls covered in Sailor Jerry style artwork, random signs like, “sit down, relax, and shut the f*ck up,” and the faint smell of patchouli. Its proximity to Old Town Square means a healthy amount of foot traffic. Tourists wander in (including the Frenchman and his girlfriends) and want to commemorate their visit to Prague. But, the One Love artists have also amassed a loyal local following, some of which have been coming to the shop for years. The thing is, don’t assume you’re going into a shop that offers a warm welcome and, “here’s a cup of coffee, how can we help you?” Not exactly. A visit to One Love can be a bit intimidating. But, stick around and meet the artists, and you’ll be glad you braved the “shut the f*ck up” reception couch.
Černý Petr grew up in a small town outside Kutná Hora and knew from a young age he loved tattoos. “I was walking with my mom when I was a boy and saw an old gypsy that had been to prison. He was covered in tattoos and I thought they were amazing. I told my mom, ‘I want those!’’ She was less than thrilled her five year old wanted prison tattoos. But, soon enough as teenagers he and his friends found an old inmate with a tattoo gun and got their first ink. His mom cried.
Petr sees tattooing as a trade, perfected by experience and hard work. He works in the classic American tattoo style of depicting things like women and vices, with dark lines and bright shading (though a number of his pieces are black and gray.) “It’s a collaboration between myself and people who want my work. I try and help them with things like placement and slight changes in the artwork for best results. Sometimes people come in with a picture from pintrest and refuse to listen to reason.” The key, according to Petr, is to know your artist’s strengths ahead of time and trust them. So, if you’re in the market for your first or fiftieth tattoo: schedule an appointment (Petr is often booked months in advance), do some research, and get ready for fresh ink that will make your mom cry.
Černý Petr – One Love Tattoo
Týnská ulička 607/5, Prague 1