Chilliwack gets new ink at Cruz Studios
Head down one of Chilliwack's shortest downtown streets, turn into the alley, and that's where you'll find Cruz Studios.
It's Chilliwack's newest tattoo parlour and it opened last month by artist Dallas Cruz and Amberleigh Dauphinais.
"I've been an artist my entire life," says Cruz.
His mother encouraged him to draw and paint at a young age. He's a self-taught artist and never took any courses other than high school art classes, but his talent goes far beyond that.
Cruz specializes in portraits and abstract realism. From a short distance in the studio, a framed pencil sketch of a woman looks like a black-and-white photograph. His work is so precise and lifelike, you'd think he's been teaching art for years.
He enjoys capturing people how they are, and he says it's "really satisfying when he completes a portrait."
Cruz has been tattooing for six years. He figures he's done thousands of tattoos over that time.
"I love doing a piece for someone and seeing their response when it's done. It's so fulfilling that way — to take something and blow it out of the water," he says.
"I like the rewards and the attention it gets me, and I love the challenge of working on skin. It’s really rewarding."
His work also includes pet portraits and coverups.
Sometimes people come into his studio not knowing what new ink they want to coverup an old piece. For some tattoos, he says there's only so much you can do but he works closely with the client to give them what they want.
"I love taking something that’s horrible and making it into something awesome. People are so happy to have it gone," he says about coverups.
Along with the already-tattooed come the newbies.
"A lot of our clients are first tattoos," says Dauphinais.
For those anxious first-timers, Dauphinais and Cruz will help to calm you.
"You talk to them, explain the process, and show them how it works. It eases them," says Cruz. "I explain that it's not a needle that is sucking the blood out of you, it's just scratching the surface."
While Cruz is the artist, the business wouldn't have launched without Dauphinais. She went to school for business and got everything set up for Cruz Studios.
The two literally started with a blank canvas. The walls of their cozy, 350-square foot studio were white.
"I wanted to create a really comfortable atmosphere for the clients," says Cruz.
After three months of renovations, including wall painting, furniture shopping, sign making, art framing, and accent lighting, Cruz Studios opened on Dec. 3.
Funky framed things hang from the walls like scorpions, bats, a butterfly and a lock of Edgar Allan Poe's hair. They found nearly everything on Etsy.com.
The place has a "dark Victorian gothic vintage feel" to it says Dauphinais.
"We definitely worked together on everything," she adds. "It ended up being a great partnership."
"It’s nice to have your own thing and be your own boss," says Cruz.
Cruz Studios is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. The address is 104-9361 Mill St., but their door is located just down the alley on Court Lane.