Fresh ink flows on Lower First Street

— Monica’s becoming a fixture on First Street.

Also known as Mona Leah Ridgeway, she worked for several months at the deli counter at Nichols Supermarket up at 327 First. Now instead of serving cold cuts, she’s piercing body parts at Black Sea Tattoo & Piercing down on Lower First Street, not far from the ever-popular CNY Yoga Center.

“It’s a great location — 105 First St. — because we’re getting business from the yoga people,” Monica said last week. Apparently, there’s a relationship between dharma and dermals.

Black Sea Tattoos

Black Sea is owned by Bulgarian-born tattoo artist Stefan Kalpaktchiev (pronounced kal-PAK-chee-eff). Hence the name of the shop: Bulgaria is bordered to the east by the Black Sea.

Well-experienced with a tattoo iron, Stefan is equally capable of creating eye-catching black-and-grey pieces or elaborate full-color tattoos. He previously practiced his craft at the Angry Banana in North Syracuse.

“Stefan is happy to work with clients to make sure they get what they want,” Monica said. “His skill and artistry can please any client.” Rates vary depending on the size, placement, and detail of the tattoo.

If you want to get pierced, Monica will oblige you. “Since piercings start at only $25, including piercings for jewelry, you can have the piercing you’ve always wanted without breaking the bank,” she said.

Body art now mainstream

Monica, who’s now 25 years old, got her first tattoo seven years ago. At first it seemed revolutionary, she said, but since then body art has gone mainstream. People of both sexes, all backgrounds and all ages are indulging in bodily artforms. But state law prohibits the tattooing of persons younger than 18, regardless of parental consent, and Black Sea rigorously enforces that rule.

Stefan and Monica are also obsessive about hygiene. “At Black Sea Tattoo we take pride in the sanitation and cleanliness of the shop so our customers can feel safe and confident while being tattooed or pierced,” Monica said.

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