On September 27, 2017 Hidden Entity Tattoo and Piercing celebrated their one year anniversary. They had no idea that in three short months their shop would be closed due to a devastating fire. But not being able to get into his shop has not stopped owner Travis Popp. He has been working nonstop since the Heritage Building fire to reopen Hidden Entity.
An Innovative Take on Tattooing
Before returning to the Auburn area and opening Hidden Entity, Popp spent the prior six years working in Las Vegas off of the strip. This experience allowed him to shape his vision for his own shop. When opening Hidden Entity, Popp wanted to show the legitimacy of the tattoo and piercing business; as well as the innovation of the industry.
Knowing the drawbacks from working for “glorified owners,” Popp built his own shop from the perspective of an artist working for someone else. By providing the best equipment and tools, including all major ink manufacturers, Popp is creating an environment where artists can develop skills and flourish.
A talented artist himself, Popp enjoys the teaching side of the industry. He describes Hidden Entity as a shop where the artists work as group, feeding off of each other. They share advice and debate technique. The goal for everyone is to be the best possible artist they can be. Having handpicked his crew, he feels the work environment he has built has proven that it allows artists to grow and thrive.
Despite the shop name, each station is open (though privacy screens are available as requested). This allow for fellow artists to see the artwork being created, and provide input if asked. This openness, Popp explained, also prevents shoddy work from being created and sloppily covered. Every tattoo that leaves the shop is photographed, for quality control.
It is a common practice in other tattoo shops that clients are tattooed by the next available artist, regardless of their skillset or the desired tattoo. Popp feels this is a disservice to both the client and the artist. That is why at Hidden Entity clients choose who they are tattooed by based on the artists’ portfolio. Each client receives a free consultation to ensure the artist will be a good match before any ink is put to skin.
Rebuilding Hidden Entity
After the historic Heritage Building fire, Hidden Entity was among the businesses closed due to significant damages. Because tattoo artists and piercers work as contractors, the closure of the shop meant they were completely shut off from their income. They do not have insurance to cover lost wages. That the fire happened just after Christmas meant that the artists were in an even tighter financial situation. Popp knew that he needed to get his artists back to work as quickly as possible.
Without knowing the future of the shop in the Heritage Building, including if his lease would be terminated, Popp quickly found a new location for the shop. When looking for a new location, Popp considered relocating out of Auburn. The response and outreach from clients after the fire kept him in Auburn. Coming from a business family, Popp knows the importance of the customer. For him, it was important that Hidden Entity be as professional as possible, but with empathy. Because of this standard, the relationships built with the Hidden Entity clients and their subsequent support did not shock Popp. It does, however, make him proud of his shop and crew.
The new home for Hidden Entity sits directly across the street in the old Kid Savvy retail space, a location Popp originally had his eye on when scouting locations for the shop. The new space has more square footage, and is more open. The larger location also allows for a secured employee lounge. The shop’s sterilization area will also be behind this locked door, a conscious decision from Popp to ensure no tampering or contamination occurs with the shop’s sterile equipment.
Working on little sleep, Popp has not stopped working to see the new location reopen. Dedicated to
the shop, the artists have come together to help rebuild Hidden Entity. Six short days after signing the lease the new location looks incredible. Painted in reds and blacks with a vintage rockabilly vibe. Each of the six tattooing stations have their own 50” television to watch during a session. Before opening, custom carts will accompany each station.
Some of the fixtures in the new location are temporary, as Popp does not know what will be usable from the old shop. Currently there are massage style tables in the new shop as Popp awaits to see if the tables from the old shop will be usable. These tables will be utilized at shows when the permanent tables are installed.
As with the original shop, Popp has used the medical knowledge gained from his time as a fire fighter to think of innovative methods to maintain a sterile shop. Using the customization background from his family, he has built stations that help keep the shop clean and sterile. With blood borne pathogens as a concern, Popp also integrated technology to help cut down on cross contamination. An example of this is having motion sensor paper towel dispensers at each station to prevent artists from touching paper towel rolls during a session.
As is the case with fires of this magnitude, Popp has yet to receive any insurance money for damaged or lost equipment from the old shop. Because of his dedication to his artists and clients, he has paid out of pocket to rebuild Hidden Entity. His feeling was that he knew his crew was “broke, so I’ll be broke with them.” For him, it is important to get his artists back to work.
On the Wednesday after the fire, the Fire Marshal went into effected businesses and retrieved important items for the owners. For Popp it was their tattoo guns, which often are customized and hard to replace. The Fire Marshal also retrieved art pieces that Popp had commissioned – caricatures of the Hidden Entity crew. Though there is slight water damage to the pieces, they now tell a story. And to Popp, putting them in the new shop will make it home.
As of Tuesday January 16, 2018 businesses are now able to make arrangements through the management and insurance companies to get into their businesses. Popp is eager to get back into the old shop to take inventory of the damage and incorporate what is able into the new shop. Artists are currently rebuilding their portfolios, as the shop computers were damaged by water.
One client, who proudly bares some of Popp’s work on her forearm, stopped by the shop and excitedly asked when it will re-open. The goal is have the new shop open and serving clients by mid-February. Artists will begin reaching out to clients to re-schedule appointments that had to be canceled due to the fire. Keep an eye on the Hidden Entity Facebook Page and Website for updates on the shop’s progress.