Artist opens tattoo shop in Downtown Pitt
Goldie Prelogar sat in the chair as her friend and tattoo artist Rhona McBain worked on her left arm. She was pondering the question of what her tattoos mean to her.
After a few moments of quiet reflection, the answer was simple.
“This is for me,” she said. “It’s not about what anyone else thinks.”
McBain, who opened Odd Animals Ink in Downtown Pittsburg earlier this year, agreed.
“People get tattoos for very personal reasons,” she said. “It could be expressing love for a loved one, it could be about loss, or maybe it’s just the biography of your life. We’re all unique and have our own stories to tell.”
That “unique” human quality in all of us is the spirit behind the name of her business.
“We’re all odd animals,” she said. “Odd Animals is about us, about humans. We’re all a little different, a little awkward. When you’re in the chair getting a tattoo, you’re in a space where it’s safe to be yourself and say what you want to say.”
“We’re all odd animals.”
Prelogar describes the experience as cathartic.
“There’s a trust and an intimacy that comes with someone touching you,” she said. “They’re physically doing something to your body. That trust has to be there, and when it is, it’s almost like therapy. You open up and share things, the ups and downs.”
Prior to her career as a tattoo artist, McBain was a tenured professor of art at Pittsburg State University. She said the two worlds collide seamlessly, as art and an appreciation for the human experience is at the core of both.
“I’ve always wanted to do tattoos,” she said, “but I just took a unique life path to get here. I play off of everything that came before this.”
She said Pittsburg is a prime spot to have a tattoo business for several reasons.
“It’s a great location to attract clients from all around,” she said. “I have clients from Joplin and Lamar, Kansas City, Wichita, Springfield. I even had a client from Vermont.
“Pittsburg is also great because there are so many other things to do. If you’re coming in for a large project, you’re probably going to end up staying for a day or two. While you’re here, you can shop and eat and stay in a hotel or Airbnb. It’s a whole experience.”
Getting a tattoo in itself is also a whole experience. McBain said while the focus is often on the end result, the lessons learned during the process are important to growth.
“If you can sit in a chair for six hours and endure something that is somewhat unpleasant, you leave realizing you’re stronger than you thought,” she said. “It’s a mental and physical challenge.”
Prelogar admits that it can hurt at times, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
“At this point, I can’t imagine looking down and not seeing a tattoo,” she said. “It’s a part of me. It’s who I am.”