Frank Fontanez Exit Interview

FRANK FONTANEZ JULY 2019

frank-fontanez-interview-the-bell-rose-tattoo

It’s with a heavy heart we announce that August 17th will be Frank’s last day at the Bell Rose. Frank will be leaving the Bell Rose to pursue the next chapter of tattooing and life in Seattle, WA. Despite losing Frank around the shop as a phenomenal tattooer and personality - we couldn’t be happier for him. Frank has been a staple at the Bell Rose since year one, and has grown with us over the last five years. We just want to thank you Frank for everything you’ve done over last five years. Your peerless performance and contributions over the last five years has helped us build and illuminate the Bell Rose. We look forward to watching you progress even more in this next installment and can’t wait for your returning guest spots in the future. If you have any unfinished work, or would like to get tattooed by Frank before he leaves, please email frankfontaneztattoo@gmail.com

How long have you been working at the Bell Rose?

I think right at Five years.

What made you want to come work at the Bell Rose?

I've worked with a few of the guys here before. Back in 2008 to 2009 with Sean, and Pete. I heard that they were opening up a shop and I'd worked with them before and really liked both of those guys. It seemed like a really good move to jump into.

How have you grown over the last five years?

The Bell Rose is an eclectic of different artists so as far as growing I mean whenever Sean was here I picked up a couple tricks from him you know with Pete's ability to illustrate his black and grey work - I picked up some stuff from him. Brent coming through and starting at the shop. I mean it's just one of those places where everyone tattoo's a little bit different. There's so many tricks that you can learn as long as you pay attention.

How would you describe working at the Bell Rose?

It's definitely very busy. The majority of the time that I've worked here there's been at least seven artists I want to say. And, other than that first year which is expected to be a little bit slow but that second year it just completely took off and it's stayed a very busy shop. And as far as designs that walk in the door, it's all over the place. Anything from a small Pinterest tattoo to a Japanese full sleeve.

Do you have a best memory or experience from working at the Bell Rose?

Frank painting in his down time at the Bell Rose

There's been a bunch of fun memories but I guess one that sticks out the most was maybe the first year we did Due South. I think that year more people worked that show than ever and it was just kind of nice getting away from the shop as a collective at a convention and doing that whole thing. That's the first thing that kicks out but I'm sure there's plenty more.

How has the shop grown and changed over the last five years from your perspective?

I would say that It's become a true street shop. I feel like when we first opened there was a balance between appointments and walk ins. I feel like the majority of traffic that comes in here is walk in tattoos and piercings. Even though there's a handful of individuals here that do large scale custom work only I definitely feel like 70 percent of the traffic that comes through the door is stuff of that nature. I feel like it's become more of a busy street shop than ever.

What do you love most about tattooing?

Every day is completely different. You meet people from all different walks of life too. Every day is different. And that's kind of the same way with tattooing - like you tattoo people from all walks of life. Anyone from doctors to degenerates and everyone has a good story for the most part and everyone's getting different kinds of tattoos so literally every day you come to work and it's totally different and it's not staring at a computer screen all day.

Why did you decide to relocate to Seattle?

Well the biggest thing was as an artist, and I've heard this from multiple artists that I look up to, is to never stay in one spot for too long. I don't have anything against where I'm from or against where I work. But, as an artist it's good to plunge yourself into chaos every now and then and I do feel like whenever I first started working here I was really nervous and whenever I first started tattooing I was really nervous. Something about those times where I was most stressed out I feel like I was most creative. Relocating to one of the most expensive cities in the country and especially one that has a lot of really good tattoo shops that's going to definitely plunge me into a new kind of chaos and I'm really excited about it.

frank-fontanez-tattooing-the-bell-rose-tattoo

And where will you be working in Seattle?

That hasn't been made official yet. There's a handful of shops I've been looking at. There's one in particular but I don't want to name any shops just yet. But if that works out I'll be working for an individual that I look up to a lot and I would be really stoked to pick his brain.

How do you feel like you're able to grow the most in this new environment?

I think the biggest thing is in areas like Seattle there are more people that come into a tattoo shop as a collector as opposed to people that are just kind of dabbing their toe in the water you know. So in areas like that it's much more easy to tattoo people that are gonna want a large scale tattoo and they're already educated on that art style. I'm really looking forward to that. And yeah I feel like working somewhere where you have to start all over again. That forces you to stay up late. You know there's no more Netflix and chill nights. It's you know this is it like you're gonna starve to death. And the third most expensive city in the country like you got to fucking do it. So I'm looking forward to that.

What are you looking forward to most about the move?

Honestly, what I'm looking forward to the most is just starting all over and not really knowing anybody there. Definitely the second biggest thing is the fact that it is an art city. There's definitely a name already attached to that city. It's kind of weird when people think of Seattle they think of weird and I'm really excited about that. I'm excited about just the geography around Seattle as well. If I ever get tired of the hustle bustle of the city I'm only an hour and a half away from the mountains. There's all sorts of fun things to do around there.

If you could change anything about the Bell Rose but would you change?

We need some nice neon outside.

What do you think the future holds for the Bell Rose?

This shop's a fucking juggernaut - it's not going anywhere. It has built quite a name for itself already. I feel like this shop is here to stay. It's only going to get better. The name is only going to grow. Especially with the guest artists that come through. I mean this shop is just blowing up so quickly.

Will you be coming back in the future?

Definitely coming back to guest spot. I'm not moving out to Seattle to be like alright I'm buying a house and I'm just gonna be here forever. This is definitely just traveling out to what I think is my favorite city that I've traveled to so far and just to see what the future holds so I'll definitely be back to do guest spots. I don't know if I'll ever be back to live permanently but I mean I'm definitely not opposed to it. The Daphne / Mobile area is definitely not an area that I hate at all. It's just something that I've been around for 30 years and it's just time to see something a little different for a little while.

Any last words or final thoughts?

It's been an honor to work here. For anyone who's reading, thank you for reading. Anyone who I've tattooed before - Thank you so much. It's truly been an honor working with you guys. It's been an honor tattooing all of my clients. You guys took care of me so much and definitely more than I deserve. So thank you guys. God bless.