Driven, focused, and visionary, Greg Sumii, owner of Liquid Fetish in Fresno, CA, creates. Art. Ideas. Plans. Business. Himself. Above all, he creates success. So it’s no surprise that he knew Liquid Fetish would benefit from becoming a certified Tatt2Away® center. “The tattoo industry is my industry, and anyone involved and entrenched in this industry knows that with the popularity of tattoos, comes the need for tattoo removal,” said Sumii. He opened Liquid Fetish five years ago, three years ahead of schedule. And he’d had plenty of time to create a business plan.
His previous incarnation was as a drug trafficker, dealing directly with the Mexican cartels and overseeing multiple layers of distribution to the Midwest states. Simultaneously he owned several other businesses, all equally successful, but only one landed him in federal prison. He discovered his art talent in the Ft. Worth penitentiary, where the warden, an artist, set up a hobby shop program for select inmates. “I’d always liked art, and from the very first painting I surprised myself with what I was doing,” said Sumii. He began sending his paintings home to his mother, a district attorney, and father, a minister, who took them to art galleries. Then he began tattooing…inside. Said Sumii, “I don’t really count that as experience, because when I got out, I had to unlearn the homemade equipment.”
His five-year business plan, created before he was released, called for tattooing in any shop within six months, tattooing in Fresno’s top shop within two years, and opening his own studio in five. Instead, the goals came in at two weeks, six months, and two years. Now halfway to the six-year mark, the Liquid Fetish brand includes a walk-in studio in north Fresno; a custom shop in downtown Fresno; LFPC, Liquid Fetish Permanent Cosmetics; and The LF Gallery, an art gallery for artists of all mediums – dance, photography, the spoken word, music, and art – including tattoo artists from other local shops.
“It’s to show what art is and what it can be beyond what one might think,” said Sumii. “My objective is to educate the community and expose them to local artists.” From the beginning, even with the name Liquid Fetish, his objective was to set the studio apart from the average tattoo shop. ”Particularly in some of the stigmas attached to tattooing. I’m big on pioneering ink as art and legitimizing it within the accepted art world.” He began promoting the Liquid Fetish brand more as an art culture lifestyle anchored around tattoos. “And I had some momentum going with publications and sponsorship, so you develop a little bit of a following.”
Given his business acumen, it was no surprise to his other artists that Sumii decided to become a Tatt2Away center. Said Sumii, “It was a no-brainer. From the day we started I’ve been bringing in new resources. They look to me to continue building this company so it was very well celebrated.” As a custom studio Liquid Fetish routinely sees people who want coverups. Sumii starts with education. “I tell them there’s a spectrum here. At one end there are limitations, on the other end possibilities,” he tells them. “And depending on how dark their tattoo is and how much room there is to work around it, that’s where they land on that spectrum of what we can do. “
He does this because frequently what they want isn’t possible, and for the shop artists, sending people off to laser was more necessity than preference. Though Sumii has tattoos he’d like to remove, he’s never been lasered. “I’ve been hesitant because the laser industry is still very inconsistent. People are coming back with some good removal, a lot of times not,” he said. “It’s so many sessions, and so expensive. There’s scarring. You know this; it’s why you designed the product. So when I saw it, it really piqued my interest.”
Sumii sees Tatt2Away as a valuable resource and a tool. He’s toying with a slogan: tattoos are forever; mistakes don’t have to be. “This industry has changed and people are seeking art, high-end work,” he said, noting that those with tattoos that aren’t art are noticing tattoos that are. “They’re looking at their own and saying ‘I wish I had that.’ So now they can selectively remove some ink and get a new tattoo or they can completely remove the ink and get a new tattoo.” He also likes the option of being able to completely remove a tattoo for someone who doesn’t want any more ink. “Those people exist, and we as artists need to respect that and not be judgmental, so it’s nice to be able to offer that option.”
The demand is immediate just within their client base, those who don’t necessarily want to be tattooless, but have tattoos they’d like removed. “They’re there for a different tattoo, but they’re talking about these tattoos that they hate and they want gone,” said Sumii. He said they hesitate, because they learn the coverup will be bigger, and that’s not a satisfying solution to them. “Tatt2Away is a resource to help them out with that and make sure they get what they want,” he said.
Sumii plans to use Tatt2Away to begin his own renovations on tattoos he doesn’t regret but that he considers mistakes, because of their location and the way he went about getting them when he was younger. “Now that I’m an artist, and I see the body as a canvas, some of these tattoos are in the middle of prime real estate,” he said. “I can never get a nice back piece, because I have a bunch of other tattoos back there so yeah, I’m absolutely looking toward doing Tatt2Away.”
Liquid Fetish of Fresno, California is now scheduling consultations in their studio. New art, coverups, and tattoo removal all under one roof!
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