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Mark Madden: Tattoo Artist / Business Owner

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Mark Madden: Tattoo Artist / Business Owner

Tattoo artist, local business owner, and soon to be author, Mark Madden has his tattooed hand deep in Buffalo’s art scene. A year after opening the Guerilla Gallery on Elmwood Avenue, Madden talks about how it all started, and where he’ll go from here.

Where did the idea for Guerilla Gallery come from?

I went to college at Buffalo State college 15 years ago as an Art Major. I’m from Boston but I moved back to Buffalo nine years ago and that’s when I started the original company Madd Grafix, which was in Allentown. It was a small, one-man tattoo studio where I could do custom work and still have time to do graphic design work. That’s kind of where the idea of Guerilla Gallery started. It was a way to separate our art studio from the tattoo studio. We actually had a crew with an artistic background and we wanted to showcase our artwork aside from just being tattooists. So when I started doing Madd Grafix I was doing local art shows at different clubs and I was calling it the Guerilla Gallery Movement, meaning that we were taking over that club for the night and setting up a gallery for a show. It started as a kind of mobile art gallery. It was never an actual entity until a year ago when we moved into the spot on Elmwood near Forest. I really fell in love with that area of Elmwood, so I got together with my business partner, Shannon Barlow, who is also a tattoo artist, and we decided to create an art boutique that encapsulated everything that had left from that corner; local music, art, clothing, and merchandise. But before we moved in here, I opened Madd Tat2 right next door about three years earlier.

You only stock locally made merchandise like clothes and art in Guerilla Gallery. Why is that important to you?

In this day and age I think that Buffalo deserves a voice. There is so much out there that is happening on the west coast and the east coast so a city like Buffalo really gets overlooked. The whole point here is to showcase local filmmakers, local musicians, and local artists, and to let the world know that Buffalo has something to offer. A lot of times artists aren’t the greatest promoters, so I wanted create an area where people could showcase their work.

Could you tell me about your tattooing style?

I’m considered a new school tattoo artist, but now I’m starting to feel a little old school because I’ve been in the industry for over 10 years. A lot of kids are coming to me now because I tattooed their parents and vise versa. I come from a really graffiti, color bomb background. Nowadays you have to be a lot more diverse so I try to do as many styles as possible. Really, my style is what the customer wants, but I’m known for that color bomb, and graffiti style. When people come to me for a tattoo, it’s no different than if they came to me to curate a painting. That piece is done specifically for them.

What is MaddTiki?

MaddTiki is a new tattoo studio that was started by Shannon and I. Its the combination of Madd Tat2 and Twisted Tiki, which is Shannon’s tattoo business. It opened about four months ago, and that is a spot that Shannon and I use as a private studio because of the overflow at Mad Tat 2 and Twisted Tiki. It’s located on Hertel Avenue, which, as far as I’m concerned, is the new higher end art scene in Buffalo. There are boutiques opening up all over the place, Spot Coffee is moving in soon and we’re right next to North Park Cinema. Its got this really tiki-vibe feel so in the middle of the winter someone can just walk into this tropical environment and get full attention from the artists there.

Could you tell me about the books you’re working on?

We’re about ready to put out a few books. One is Buffalo Brands, which I’m working on with photographer Lori Joyce. The book is a collection of portraits of Buffalo people with skin art along with their families. That should be released in November here at the gallery. Along with that I really want to do a collective of the gallery shows that we’ve done here. So together with Sean Madden, who helped me start this gallery, I plan to put out Guerilla Retrospective, which will document all of our gallery events. That should be out by the New Year.

Don’t miss Guerilla Gallery’s Horror Themed Art show on Saturday, October 22nd at the gallery. Live music by the Creaturemen. 7pm, $5.

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