A large, retro designed sign on Park Ave. is one of few signs of new business this summer in Worcester.
Justin Buduo, the 41-year-old owner of Studio 31 Tattoo Social Club, moved his fifth year business into a new 3,400 sq/ft studio at 387 Park Ave while the Massachusetts economy was shut down under COVID-19 restrictions.
The new Studio 31 location now features five full-time artists, each with their own dedicated space, and accommodations for a guest artist. The Studio 31 team is ready to get back to work.
Buduo’s talent roster features himself along with Steve “Shoe” Schoenfeldt, Jason Banks, Marianna Lombardi and Sarah Doiron who focuses on paramedical tattooing.
Moving During the COVID-19 Shutdown
Tattoo shops were eligible to reopen in Phase II Part 2 of the Massachusetts Reopening plan on June 22. Studio 31 was ready to operate its new location on July 7.
Before Massachusetts shut down its economy to combat the pandemic on March 23, Buduo and four other artists, including two sharing space on an alternating schedule, were previously at 486 Park Ave with 1,400 sq/ft.
Buduo understood his business was ready to expand. In a world with COVID-19 safety protocols, more space became a necessity.
Shortly after Governor Baker’s plan to Reopen Massachusetts became public and there was a prospective date for tattooing to begin again, Buduo signed the lease for the new home of his business.
Buduo has designed a retro feel from the sign outside through the common areas on the new Studio 31 space, complete with a mock-up of a 1950’s tattoo parlor.
The studio also includes what Buduo calls the only tattoo museum in Worcester.
Where the artists do their work is newly constructed, each having the privacy of their own work space with plenty of common area for guests… whenever guests might be allowed again.
The Effect of Phase III Restrictions
Like many businesses across the state, COVID-19 related protocols are dragging on revenue.
Walk-in business is prohibited ,including for consultations. Gone are the people who walk in the door for a consult and book an appointment. Access to the studio is by appointment only and paperwork is delivered to customers outside, in their vehicle, to be completed before entering the building.
Current restrictions limit the maximum occupancy to 10 people. As there are five artists, no guests are permitted to accompany customers.
Guests, according to Buduo, consistently turned into new customers after flipping through catalogs while they wait.
Got Serious in 2003
Like many tattoo artists of his generation from Massachusetts, Buduo started working out of his home in 1999 before the prohibition against the art was lifted.
Tattooing of any person, except by a qualified physician, was illegal in Massachusetts from 1962 until 2000, when a judge declared the ban unconstitutional. In January 2001, the state began licensing artists to tattoo.
Tattooing was still a hobby for a few years while Buduo operated a construction company he started in 2001.
In 2003, Buduo took his first chair in a studio at Shoe’s Tattoos in Webster.
The owner of the Webster studio, Schoenfeldt, now works out of Studio 31.
Buduo worked out of Piercing Emporium from 2007 until he opened Studio 31 in 2016 at 436 Park Ave.