Hold Fast Tattoo Company
Seaside is known as the see-and-do capital of the Oregon coast. Over a million tourists a year visit this resort town on the north coast just 90 minutes from Portland. They come for the fishing and surfing, to feed the seals at the Seaside Aquarium, to dig for razor clams and explore miles of flat, sandy beach. Seaside is also the destination for tattoo enthusiasts who plan their vacations around a stop at Hold Fast Tattoo Company.
Founded in May 2010 by tattooer friends Jen Knox and Brandy Rea, Hold Fast was envisioned as custom studio with an environment that emphasizes and inspires creativity. It’s not just tattoo art either — the 1500 sf main lobby serves as an art gallery displaying works of local and regional artists.
Jen and Brandy each have two decades of tattooing experience, and after working together for many years at other studios, felt their careers had plateaued and it was time to get the wind into their sails
“We wanted to be able to push ourselves a little bit further and focus more on doing custom stuff,” Brandy says. “We like educating people and helping them come up with something that’s special for them.”
Hold Fast gets its name from the classic nautical tattoo with the words spelled out on the four front-facing fingers on each hand. Sailors, like Brandy, an avid sailboater, hope it brings them good luck while gripping the rigging. The studio was almost called, “Admiral Booty’s Super Funtime Tattoo Emporium,” but as Jen explains, that was too big to fit on a business card.
Oregon, being one of the most heavily regulated states makes it a challenge to find professional tattoo artists to add to the team, not to mention somebody who also meshes with the unique personalities in the shop. Brandy and Jen call Jeremiah aka “Ginger Beard” their “unicorn” because he was such a rare find.
Octopus tattoo by Brandy
As you can imagine, being on the coast means inspiration for tattoos comes from the sea life and natural surroundings right outside the door. Hold Fast has a well-rounded crew, but if they had to pick a favorite subject matter, Brandy leans towards animal portraits; Jen for color-packed tattoos, especially florals; and Jeremiah goes for something evil like skulls, dragons or two-headed snakes.
While the trio love working on larger, more involved tattoos, and have a lot of local clients, being located in a tourist town means theres not always the freedom to spend time drawing up a design from scratch and having the client come back in weeks later to get tattooed.
“We take it as an opportunity and talk to them about what they want and make sure the design really fit them as an individual,” Jen says.
Tattoo by Jen
To ensure that every tattoo — big or small, looks super crisp and brand new, Hold Fast offers free touchups for six months after the piece is finished.
“I don’t want to overwork somebody,” Brandy says. “My take on tattooing is that I would like to have the option to touch it up. I think of it like a painting where you’ll block it out, but then you might want to do a little more contrast, etc.”
They have a “less is more” approach to aftercare as well.
“Aftercare has changed so much over the years as we understand more about how the body works. We recommend dry healing unless it gets really itchy and then it’s okay to use a little lotion,” Brandy says.
Rather than”bandaging” tattoos, fresh ink is protected with SkinLock, a petroleum-free hydrogel that solidifies to form a thin, transparent coating that maintains a moist environment, while still allowing the skin and tattoo to breathe. Hold Fast has seen awesome results, noting that SkinLock speeds the healing process by three to four days.
Fish Tattoo by Jeremiah
The transparent nature of SkinLock is a big benefit over bulky, inflexible non-transparent bandages. “There was a time when we’d get off work, and see tattoo bandages in the parking lot, and it was disgusting and gross. Since SkinLock is clear, you don’t have to take off a bandage to show off your new tattoo,” Brandy says.
And showing off is what it’s all about —- Brandy, Jen and Jeremiah showing off their skills that allow their clients to show off a new side to their personality.
“I love my job, creating art and making people feel good about themselves,” Brandy says.
“We’re here to give people what they want,” Jen says. “We’re going to have our input, but we want people know that their ideas are valid — we want to make sure they get a fantastic, fun and long lasting tattoo.”