In February of last year, during Fashion Week, the tattoo artist Scott Campbell received an urgent call from the tents at Bryant Park. On the other end of the line was a distraught assistant designer to Vera Wang whose mother had suddenly passed away. The young woman was wondering if Mr. Campbell would please, please come right away and tattoo “Mom” on her wrist.
“I’m a sucker for mourning tattoos,” Mr. Campbell told the Transom. An hour after the call, he added the last “M” just as Ms. Wang’s show was starting.
Since opening his first studio, Saved Tattoo, in Williamsburg in 2004, Mr. Campbell has inked a dandelion on Helena Christensen’s ankle and scrawled an old man on the late Heath Ledger’s right bicep. The gallerist Mary Boone recently inquired about tattooing her eyebrows. Was she serious? “Serious enough to talk about it for 15 minutes!”
Now, Manhattanites won’t have to shlep to Brooklyn for his $300-per-hour ($1,000 minimum) services. On March 18, the tat stud to the stars is opening his second location in the basement of the Smile, a cafe and boutique on Bond Street that carries labels like Adam Kimmel, Wool and the Gang and House of Waris.
The new Noho location is a bit more convenient for his many uptown Manhattan clients—art collectors, socialites, businessmen. “Them walking into a tattoo shop is them leaving their turf, their comfort zone, so there’s a little bit of hesitancy,” he said.
Mr. Campbell’s most notable and perhaps most frequent client is the designer Marc Jacobs, whose arms he emblazoned with bull terriers and whose back he covered with the stunning visage of Elizabeth Taylor. In the last year alone, the designer has visited Mr. Campbell 10 times.
“There are some people I would have stepped in and said, ‘Hey, maybe you should slow down a little.’ But Marc has a very clear idea of what he wants. He’s very deliberate,” said Mr. Campbell.
The artist has also tattooed Mr. Jacobs’ name on former beau Jason Preston’s forearm. Mr. Campbell confessed he is a “sucker” for the impulsive tattoos that people request in the throes of romance, typically in places where future paramours will have to see them: “Like when someone calls and says, ‘Dude, I’m so in love I’m about to explode! I need to get this girl’s name tattooed on me right away.’ Other tattoos artists will say, ‘Are you sure this is the one?’ But I appreciate the passion.” (Mr. Campbell has four women’s names tattooed on his body; the fourth is his current girlfriend.)
Pleading passion or mourning are the only way to skip ahead in Mr. Campbell’s alleged five-year wait list, which lesser-known clients have been known to grumble about.
“I have clients who might say that figuratively just because they’re tired of waiting,” he said. “I only actually book up several months in advance, but I’m just somewhat selective about what I do, so it’s not always a matter of time.”
For one Upper East Side client, he’s done text tattoos inspired by the artist Tracey Emin; for another, an homage to Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased De Kooning.
Just don’t come looking for a Tasmanian devil. “If it’s something where they just want to get tattooed by me because it means something to say they got tattooed by me, but the concept is not something I can relate to,” said Mr. Campbell, “then I’d rather not do it.”
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