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Tattooist Danny Cruz‘s designs are best known for their photorealism — despite the limitations of any two-dimensional canvas, let alone one a living one, his tattoos are imbued with a dizzying level of dimension. Lively with a cacophony of chatter and television programming, the energy of his current establishment, simply named 4154 Tattoo Shop for its location at 4154 Jonesboro Road, is reminiscent of a classic barbershop, save for the buzzing of tattoo guns rather than shavers. Cruz is curating a different environment for the upcoming Moreland Avenue Tattoo Shop at 55 Moreland Ave SE, which is scheduled to open in February, opting for a black and white aesthetic, an open ceiling and a concrete floor with the goal of a more “modern” and “new-age” vibe.
“I want to diversify my market more, hit different ranges and audiences of people,” Cruz told What Now Atlanta. “We started off with the urban community but it’s a big world out there — we want to cater to everybody… I want to diversify my market more, hit different ranges and audiences of people… I always wanted to franchise in my life, kind of have different locations to go to — to be able to bounce around.”
The first tattoo that Cruz penned was a small star on a friend, a far cry from the lifelike tattoos enjoyed by his 50,000-plus Instagram followers today. A tattoo hobbyist for the next three years, Cruz began his professional career in 2012 after the birth of his first child. Since, he has been profiled in VoyageATL, received mention in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and has been booked solid with tattoo appointments. He began attending tattoo expos and diligently studied black and gray realism, his present specialty, which was originally pioneered by imprisoned California Chicanos using single needles with makeshift materials like burnt baby oil
“Atlanta does a spinoff of California style,” said Cruz. “California tattoos are the originals, they started everything and they spread it out throughout the world — Atlanta, we’re going in our own way.”
Cruz hopes that this new location is the first of many in a potential franchise, for which he is still devising the “commercial name”: “I’m trying to think of a name I can market — I feel like the name doesn’t make the location, it’s the artist.”
Ultimately, after the first seeds of the franchise are planted, the Atlanta native dreams of an Atlantic Station tattoo shop that is simultaneously a restaurant, selling breakfast, dinner and tacos, inspired in part by Rob Dyrdeck’s Fantasy Factory on MTV.
The Moreland Avenue Tattoo Shop will have about ten employees, a hair more than the Jonesboro Road location, and will provide Cruz’s existing clientele throughout the city with better access to their artist. Despite his recent or future successes, Cruz said he will stick to his roots, building his potential tattoo empire within his home city.
A grand opening for the shop is scheduled for February 6, two days before Cruz’s birthday and at approximately the same time that he opened his Jonesboro Road tattoo parlor in 2019.