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Old Crow Tattoo Offers Body Art and Spiritual Medicine

By S. Mathur

Old Crow Tattoos is an Oakland landmark well-known for its body art and tattoo artists. Owner Philip Milic has a long personal history as a tattoo artist and his experience covers over 20 years. His first apprenticeship was in the summers of 1995 and 1996. Since that time he has travelled and has done tattooing all over Europe and Southeast Asia as well as all around the United States. He worked at multiple tattoo parlors before opening Old Crow Tattoo. The studio is now his home base.

"I've always been inspired by community spaces," Milic said. "The inspiration was to create a studio with an environment that tattooers and like minded artists could expand, cultivate ideas and further their craft." All of the artists are well-known for their work. Sean Gillespie, Holly Mason, Dave Rodriguez, Bryan Proteau and others each have a unique style and following.

"At around 18 years old I tattooed a traditional style, tribal design on my friend's nose," Milic said. "One of the most interesting tattoo placements I have done, was tattooing a moon cycle on the inside webbing of my friend's fingers."

Whether the clients are tattoo novices or seasoned veterans they value the professionalism of the tattoo artists at the studio. Clients describe the process of getting a tattoo at Old Crow as thorough, collaborative, and thoughtful. One client even speaks of the process as spiritual medicine. It take up to a year to complete full-body or finely-detailed tattoos.

The process begins with a consultation with the artist. Clients can bring in their own ideas, sketches, and even incomplete tattoos. The studio is clean, with a more private area for full body tattoos. Many clients feel that after Old Crow, they could never get a tattoo anywhere else. Old Crow also occasionally hosts visiting artists like Lockhart from Electric Anvil in Brooklyn and Alan Chen from Chicago.

Old Crow Tattoos supports causes such as the Standing Rock water protesters, through a donation drive and art show. Milic said that supporting causes like Standing Rock, and others like it, is incredibly important.

"It's critical because it is an intersection of local, global, ecological and indigenous politics," Milic said. "The North Dakota Access Pipeline violates long standing treaties, supports a stale dependence on fossil fuels, jeopardizes huge areas of land and critical watersheds, desecrates sacred lands and in a broader framework promotes systems that add to global warming."

A list of artists featured at the shop can be seen below:

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