In 2008, Mike “Deuce” Bellanca, founding pilot of Kamikaze Tattoo, parked his craft next to Boulder Coffee at 98 Alexander Street. Soon after he corralled a team of dedicated and talented artists to continue his mission of focusing on excellent customer service and traditional tattooing. “I like to think that we do really good tattoos and that we’re really focused on what the customer wants. We’re not really trying to tattoo for ourselves; not trying to do tattoos for us or our portfolios. We’re really doing them for our customers, we are customer oriented,” he says of his shop.
The current lineup at Kamikaze includes Kyle Downs, Casy Diaz, and Toby Zeigler. “It is the most solid, motivating, and positive group of guys. People think that tattooing is super easy and a great job and kind of like, rock and roll. I mean it can be really difficult especially managing personalities and I don’t have to do that anymore.” Mike says of his dream team; and he is thankful to them for “maintaining the integrity and tradition of the craft,” which is something that he feels strongly about in his work ethic.
Mike began his career by accident, literally, as he was a former construction manager who fell off of a building and could no longer keep up with the demands of his job. His tattoo artist at the time, Jet, was already aware that Mike had skills designing tattoos for himself as well as for friends. Jet of- fered Mike a chance to learn how to tattoo, beginning a formal apprenticeship at White Tiger Tattoo in 1999. He moved from there to Love Hate Tattoo eventually opening his own shop, Vatican Tattoo, in his hometown of Greece, NY.
Not long after this he set his sights on the city and the South Wedge area in particular. “When i moved into the city I really didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes, I didn’t want to move in really near anybody. I’ve always liked this neighborhood. I’ve always felt it was a neighborhood that had a whole lot of potential and when I moved in 2008 they were kind of just starting the revitalization and I wanted to be a part of that,” he says of his latest location.
Inside Kamikaze Tattoo the atmosphere is warm and inviting, and the stunning talent on deck is apparent from the art work dis- played on the walls. Mike says that although he doesn’t have a particular style, his work is deeply rooted in traditional American tattooing and influenced by Asian designs, an aesthetic which he enjoys. Some of his main influences outside of local artists have been Ed Hardy and Scott Sylvia and he says his shop and team are “really focused on tradition, honoring that tradition of where we came from and the people that made it possible of what we do today.”
When he’s not at the shop tattooing you can find him and his wife, Melissa, traveling, going to concerts, hiking, kayaking, and braving the ocean as certified open water divers.
Mike says his team is like a family and every day he looks forward to seeing what tattoos they are creating. He genuinely enjoys their company and the atmosphere they they’ve all created. To experience this for yourself, Kamikaze Tattoo is open for walk-ins in addi- tion to appointments. In fact they encourage walk-ins. “We like to do walk-in. We are a street shop, not an art gallery,” he says.
Mike is personally available for appoint- ments seven days a week. Walk-in custom- ers are welcome to come in Tuesday through Saturday starting at 1pm. There’s a question mark on their front door referring to the closing time because if people are still in the lobby they will stay and tattoo them.
Mike named his shop “Kamikaze” figuring that either it was going to be a success or he was going to “crash and burn.” It’s apparent that his mission has been successful, min- gling a traditional artistic style with a team of like-minded, uber-talented artists.
“We look forward to many more artistic years here in the South Wedge, Kamikaze’s only destination is onward and upward.”
98 Alexander St. | 271-0290 kamikazetattoony.com
Walk-ins welcome Tues/Sat 1-7, Sunday/Monday by appointment