Monarch Tattoo has earned the coveted “People’s Choice” award four years running by readers of the local newspaper in Kennewick, Washington where the shop has been in business since 2000.
New co-owners Kody Flannery and Jason Young along with artist Matt Jewell have been at the shop all-four years, and it’s that continuity, and the desire and ability to create the very best tattoo possible for every single client regard of size or style, that has helped to make Monarch the town favorite.
“None of of really bottleneck ourselves into just one way of doing things; we really let our clients tell us which way they want to take their tattoo,” says Jason, who’s been tattooing professionally for 14-plus years.
“The other advantage is that somebody can come in, and if we’re busy, whoever isn’t can take on whatever job the client is looking for,” adds Kody, tattooing since 2007 after completing an apprenticeship.
A love of art is what drew (literally) Kody and Jason to tattooing.
“Being artistic, we we’re drawing tattoos for people even before we we’re actually tattooing,” Jason says. A lot of times, the person would come back to them wondering why their tattoo wasn’t as good as the drawing, which led the guys to realize their place was doing the job from start to finish.
Asked to do whatever style they like best, Kody would lean towards color realism and art nouveau; Jason goes for neo-traditonal and black & gray; and Matt, who according to the shop website has been “making people less ugly” for more than 20 years, is a bit of a traditionalist, incorporating bold linework and simple shading into many of his pieces.
Eternal and Fusion are their favorite ink sets. One of the benefits to Fusion, they agree, is that ‘it’s smooth as butter,” heals nicely and hold up well to the sunlight, which is important in central Washington where the sun shines more than 300 days a year and summertime can bring triple digit temps.
Kody, 43, and Jason, 31, both owned tattoo shops before going in together to take over Monarch, so it was an easy transition from hired guns to proprietors. About the only thing they did was to change the décor to make it more inviting. The remodel involved knocking down a few walls, installing new lighting throughout the space, a fresh coat of bright paint and even building out a art gallery space. The open floor plan is conducive to creativity, innovation and spontaneous interactions between artist and clients.
Customer service plays a big part in Monarch’s success. The guys all set their own appointments which allows them help their clients in the best way possible. They also have a scheduler on their website where clients enter their contact info and describe what it is they’re looking for, which gives the artists a chance to mull things over a bit before returning the call.
“There’s not a period where a client comes in for an appointment and hasn’t first spoken with an artist,” Kody says.
“Nobody just stands around feeling neglected,” Jason adds. “As soon as the door opens, one of us makes contact with the person. . . sometimes maybe sooner than they’d like.”
“If you’re good at what you’re doing and run a good business, you can pay your bills and have money left over to play around with, and you can make your own schedule. . . .tattooing is a pretty good way of life,” Kody says. “I like to tattoo people and make them happy.”
“I can honestly say that nobody’s ever said to my face that they didn’t like their tattoo,” he adds with a laugh.
“I was never much of an extrovert (before getting into tattooing),” Jason says, “but I’ve realizes that you can’t do much without other people.”