I have personally been fascinated by tattoos since childhood, but it wasn’t until I was 18 (legal age) that I went in search of my first official body art. Ten years later, I have attended national tattoo conventions, worked in tattoo shops, and collected over twenty hours of work for my own body art collection. The pictures with this article are of the work of Kevin and Shannon Johnson on my husband and me.
Body art is a serious endeavor, and its popularity continues to be on the rise. While tattoo shops advertise on radio, newsprint, and even television, the best forms of advertisement are word of mouth and the work itself.
Not far from the Mississippi River, in the shade of the Pyramid Arena cast by the evening sun, is a little tattoo parlor named Ramesses’s Shadow. The owners are two brothers and self professed country boys named Kevin and Shannon Johnson, who ironically don’t have a tattoo between the two of them. If you are in the Memphis area or even within driving distance and you are in the market for a tattoo, this is who I recommend you go see, as they are the best tattoo artists in Memphis, Tennessee.
When you visit Ramesses’s Shadow, you might be surprised at how different the shop is compared to what you might expect from a tattoo shop. It is a small building, decorated on the interior more like a funky apartment than a tattoo shop. There is not the common “flash art” wallpapering the walls. No, in fact, unlike most tattoo parlors, where you can find the same generic tattoo art pictures plastering the walls, Kevin and Shannon do not buy tattoo flash art at all. Instead, on a coffee table nestled between a chair and a love seat, you will find portfolios of original drawings and sketches done by the brothers. If you want, you can pick one of these originals for your tattoo, or you can get inspired and have one of these phenomenal tattoo artist draw a completely original piece for you.
The atmosphere is relaxed, clean, professional, and cozy. These tattoo artists are artists in their own right who have chosen tattooing as their medium. With over 25 years of tattooing experience between them, these artists know skin. My experience with their work is that the actual tattoo is not completely unpleasant, they take their time but work quickly while producing a high quality tattoo. The healing of a tattoo tells a lot about the skill of the artists who applied it, and in all my experiences with the brothers of Ramessess’s Shadow, the artwork has healed impeccably, smooth and clean with little or no scabbing.
You can find Ramessess’s Shadow at 383 North 2nd Street, Memphis. Prices run around $150 an hour. Plan to meet with the artist before actually getting your work done if you want custom work created for you. These guys are in high demand (the lead singer of Memphis based rock group Saliva, Josey Scott, sports work by Kevin), so also plan on making an appointment after your initail meeting with the artist.