Blue Buddha is making an impression on customers

Allan Lamb

Tattoo artist, David Winland, from Blue Buddha Tattoo & Piercing on Franklin Ave, continues to work on a custom design for Ashley Wood, a friend from Youngstown. Winland custom designs all tattoos and works on Wood for three hours, once a week. Photos by

Credit: Ron Soltys

Blue Buddha Tattoo and Piercing offers custom tattoos without the stigma and attitude that you might get from some tattoo parlors.

“I’ve had so many people come in saying they were treated shitty at other places,” said David Winland, owner of Blue Buddha and its sole artist.

Winland, who has worked as a tattoo artist in several parts of the country, said getting a tattoo is like a rite of passage that we don’t have in Western culture, and people should feel comfortable when getting ink done.

“They feel nervous and on edge. You got to do what you can to make them feel relaxed,” he said, adding that there are many tattoo artists who give off an attitude that they are doing their customers a favor and develop a “rock star” mentality that doesn’t make for good business.

Blue Buddha has been open for around a year now. It is named after a song by industrial dance-rock group My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. Winland was stage manager and did stage lighting for the band for a few years. He also played guitar on their album Crime for All Seasons (1997).

The parlor’s location, at 425 Franklin Ave., is slightly out of the way, but Winland said the location choice was a conscious decision on his part due to past experiences with working in parlors in high-traffic areas. He wants people to seek him out for his work.

“Most of what I do is people seeking custom work from me. Most of what I do is referral,” said Winland. “Everything is one-of-a-kind. If you pay good money for tattoos, you want something that is your own. You can’t find a lot of that in this area.”

Winland says that people are putting a lot more thought into their tattoos than they did in the past, especially in Ohio. He attributes this to the popularity reality shows such as “Miami Ink” that discuss people’s stories behind their tattoos.

“I tattooed in San Francisco for six years and New York for about a year,” he said. “People on the coast put a lot of thought into their tattoos.”

Winland said he takes pride in what he does. He said although he delves into other arts such as painting, tattooing is the most gratifying.

“You can’t hide a tattoo in the closet or sell it. It changes you forever.”

Contact all reporter Allan Lamb at [email protected].