After building up a more than successful tattoo business in New York City, Mike Bellamy and Erik Siuda decided to open up shop on Long Island.
Bellamy, a native of Denver, moved to New York in the late 1980s to attend the Parsons School of Design where he studied illustration and painting. Gaining experience in the underground days of New York City, Bellamy soon began traveling the world with his technique.
Brooklyn-born Suida met his mentor, Bellamy, 15 years ago as an apprentice at Triple X Tattoo in New York City. As his career began to take a vital turn, Suida, who studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts, was introduced to a whole new world of opportunity. Following in Bellamy's footsteps, Suida was able to travel to different areas of the globe, gaining invaluable experience he carries today.
With nearly two decades of tattooing under their belts, Red Rocket Tattoo Long Island opened its doors in 2008. In just four years, the Levittown shop has made a name for itself in the local artists scene, attracting clients far beyond Nassau County.
Siuda, a Bellmore resident, said his team of five full-time artists strive to provide a state-of-the-art experience to every client who walks through the door. Focusing on just the art of ink, Red Rocket Tattoo has steered clear of body piercings, unlike many other locations in the area.
"Our artists really have good personalities and we're easy to get along with," he said. "We aim to give each client the attention they deserve and the quality that comes with a good tattoo."
"We have very high standards here," Siuda added. "When someone is coming to us, they're getting a custom piece of artwork. Mike and I are both painters, and one of our artists, Craig Messina, is too. We want to keep the shop on an elevated level, heavily art influenced."
Though they've gained great success in Levittown, Siuda said it wasn't always so easy. When first trying to open, Red Rocket Tattoo encountered several issues with the town that Siuda felt were not handled properly. But since opening, Red Rocket Tattoo has dedicated both time and money to be involved members of the Levittown community.
"They really didn't make it easy for a new business to come in," said Siuda. "We're not a trashy place. We're all well respected artists in our field with a college education and that seemed to be overlooked. We're a business, bringing business to this neighborhood, but because we're a tattoo shop people held this bad image over our heads."
"We wanted to give back to the community, through charities, the fire department, whoever we can help." he added. "That was a big thing for us when we moved out here and we make sure to help whenever we can."
Now as an established shop, Siuda said Red Rocket is working on filling guest spots of famed tattoo artists from around the world. Most recently, Red Rocket welcomed Jeff Ensminger, who Siuda described as a "phenomenal tattoo artist." Ensminger traveled around the country in an RV working at different shops along the way.
"We're really gearing more toward guest artists now," said Siuda, who will be taking a guest spot at Olde Tyme Tattoo in Massena next week. "It takes a while. We had to establish ourselves as a well-known shop before someone wants to give up their time to come work here. We're getting to that point now."
Red Rocket Tattoo is open Monday through Saturday from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. For more information on artists, visit their website.