VIENNA — Eric Williams says he feels blessed to be a tattoo artist because he loves it so much and its something he wants to work hard at doing. Williams recently opened what is probably …
VIENNA — Eric Williams says he feels blessed to be a tattoo artist because he loves it so much and its something he wants to work hard at doing. Williams recently opened what is probably Vienna’s first tattoo parlor. His business is named Fifth Element and it is located at 212 4th Street in Vienna, in the rock building on the north side of the courthouse square. The door to his business faces the main door of the Maries County Courthouse.
This is his second tattoo shop as he owns The Nook on Madison Street in Jefferson City, located across the street from the Governor’s Mansion. For the past seven years Williams has worked at the Jeff City location along with two other tattoo artists. They stay very busy, with bookings two to three months out. Williams wants to be successful in Vienna as well. Some Vienna people have been enthusiastic about him opening his tattoo parlor and others have asked him why Vienna? His answer is why not as the industry is growing and Vienna can be a part of that, too.
Williams is a Jefferson City native, currently living in Vichy with his wife Kendall Stratman, who is well known in the area as one of the nice ladies who work at the Vienna Library.
Williams is artistic and says when he graduated from high school in 2002, he went to California, thinking he’d fit in on the west cost. He spent a year there enjoyed his youth, riding skateboards and learning how to do glass blowing. He didn’t like it in California as much as he thought he would so after a year he returned home to Mid-Missouri.
Williams is an artist who has always been interested in tattoos. He was 12 years old when he gave himself his first tattoo, using his mother’s sewing needle and a bottle of India ink. He liked the “dark stuff” at the beginning such as skulls and biker motifs. He made his own tattoo machine and did tattoos for friends. At age 23 his parents gave him a tattoo kit for Christmas, basically launching him and he progressed from there.
He liked the artistic part of it and the sense of rebellion it gave him. People saw his work and they wanted him to do a tattoo for them and that encouraged him. He did an apprenticeship at a tattoo place in Fulton.
When he began doing tattoos, the people who got them were “a rebel crowd” but about 10 years ago it flipped and now 90 percent of his customers are women. And they aren’t biker babes and instead are teachers, professional people, everybody. About his female clients, Williams says, “They are tough and take pain well.” He still likes the dark tattoos but works with whatever people want, doing pre-drawings while they are there as they work together on getting the design and colors just right because a tattoo is forever.
Arms are the most common area for tattoos because they arms are less painful to have done and they are visible. He will place a tattoo wherever anyone wants it. It’s his job and he is a professional. With a smile he adds that he is happily married.
Williams draws and also likes to paint canvasses and recently has begun to really like abstract painting. One of his abstract paintings is on the wall of his newly renovated and opened business. It’s a nice, comfortable place with 10 foot ceilings, a custom-made waiting area and open office and tattoo area. There is a restroom. The walls are painted gray and the trim is in black. The big windows provide plenty of light. He had some help but did nearly all of the work himself, including the framing, electrical, plumbing and painting. The Fifth Element name of the tattoo parlor comes from his love of hiking, nature and Mother Earth. The four elements are wind, water, fire, and earth and for Williams in his life, the fifth element is a tattoo.
His Vienna parlor will operate by appointment only with availability on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and every other Saturday. In the near future he plans to renovate into living space the rest of the building and he and Kendall will live on the courthouse square.
The tattoo industry is huge and only getting bigger as tattoos become more popular. They also are addicting and many people think they are sexy. A lot of time goes into a tattoo as there is an artistic process before any ink is put down. Clients text him photos of what they are interested in or they describe it and he draws it. They work together to get the design in place then the tattooing can begin. This can take two hours or more. He charges $75 an hour once the tattooing begins. He is totally professional, hygienic and clean with his work. His parlor is “all disposable” and he says it is stupid to clean needles and reuse them. He uses a rotary pen by Broc, a good machine he’s used for six years. He was inspected and approved for the Vienna location by the Missouri Division of Professional Registration and will be inspected in six months and then every year. He keeps a clean shop.
His first day in Vienna was Monday, Feb. 3 and he did his first tattoo the next day. He’s done nine tattoos in Vienna since he opened and has had a good response from the Vienna community. He does not sit at his shop waiting for customers as he works by appointment only. Being in the business for several years, he learned that scheduling can be time consuming so his uses an appointment app and it works well for him and for his clients. To make an appointment, go to https://directory.bookedin.com/fifth-element or text him at 573-301-6726.
Williams has had success in Jefferson City as a tattoo artist and parlor owner and he hopes to build a client base in Vienna as the industry continues to grow in popularity. In Jefferson City he was part of city activities such as the annual 4th of July celebration and his plan is to be active in Vienna, too. He joined the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and plans to have a ribbon cutting and open house. “I hope to be here and stay awhile,” he said.