This past Sunday I paid a visit to the Brooklyn studio of artist Bailey Hunter Robinson. You might remember Bailey from one of my Brimfield posts this past summer, when I caught him lying on the grass trying to escape the mid-day flea market heat. Upon arrival in Brooklyn I explained to Bailey that I was the guy who took his photo that hot summer day while he was trying to get some shade. “I’m sorry for taking your picture and putting on my site. I remember at the time you didn’t seem too happy about me taking the picture.” I said as I took off my coat and set my gear on the worn wood floors of Bailey’s new studio. “Oh it was fine. I was really hot that day and I was losing my ass up there, I don’t think I had sold a thing at that point.” he said. Such are the ways at Brimfield on hot summer days I suppose.
Bailey’s interest in furniture, vintage objects and things like Brimfield can be traced back to the influence of his parents while growing up in a small town in Alabama. “My parents were huge collectors of early English stuff, big oil paintings and things like that.” he said. It was this interest and his friendship with Luke Scarola (who co-owns the vintage furniture shop in Brooklyn called Luddite) that has helped shape the aesthetic of Bailey’s studio. “Luke and I used to drive five hours to go to an auction and they drive five hours home in one day. There were times when we were out and so exhausted that we couldn’t keep track of who bought what.”
What’s interesting to me is, for all the great old decor that’s present, the studio isn’t a vintage furniture shop. Bailey’s place is a by appointment tattoo parlor where he often sees two clients a day everyday all week. “I’m pretty much booked everyday for the whole month,” he said. Fittingly, Bailey’s type of tattoo coincides nicely with the room. “I do a very specific style of tattooing; a pre-1930s true Americana or old English style.” he said. “Back then the outlines were a little thinner, there was much more detail. It was clunky, but it wasn’t cartoon looking – there was something a little bit rendered about it. I’m not so much the 1940s New York tough guy tattooer, I’ve always been much more of a 1910s carnival tattooer…this sort of weirdo, not a tough guy.”
Bailey’s colorful framed birds (that he has meticulously hand painted) hang nicely next to the pencil sketches that have gone on to become tattoos. It does a lot to show the different talents of Robinson. Sitting in the studio in a rickety old chair no doubt snapped up off a field in Massachusetts, one can only admire the way Bailey has brought the different world’s together. Though maybe vintage furniture and tattooing aren’t too far apart, much like tattoos everything in the studio has a story and a history.