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Seth Ciferri, Mastermind, Mechanic, and Maker of Read Street Tattoo

Seth Ciferri opened Read Street Tattoo Parlor in the Mount Vernon area of Baltimore in 1999.


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He decided to open his own shop after apprenticing, tattooing for six years and then realizing his environment wasn’t allowing him space to develop both artistically and technically. With his own shop he could explore his passion for the technical and professional aspect of tattooing that is sometimes disregarded. Now, in Read Street Tattoo, Ciferri has fully renovated three operating stations upstairs, and one guest station. Seth Ciferri’s use of humor, color, and simplicity definitely sets his work apart from other artists. He uses traditional imagery but also draws from references from old textiles, furniture, rug patterns, and architecture. Ciferri focuses on bold colors, tradition, and varying widths of line.

Now, Ciferri has went from a one-man shop to having three full-time artists, Matt Rinks, Nancy Mathieu, and Brady Duncan working by his side. Ciferri says he has someone to, “correct him, look over his shoulder, and inspire him”. In addition to his three days of scheduled appointments a week, Ciferri also explores the mechanical part of tattooing. Down the street from the parlor Ciferri handcrafts tattoo machines from brass and ductile iron. He is determined to make the tattooing job easier by developing everything from the needle bar to the springs, to the armature bar and pigments. As Ciferri states, “it’s not just buying a kit and tattooing, it’s knowing every aspect”.

A second aspect of Ciferri’s craft is his Web site www.readstreettattoo.com. The largest part of the site is the technical forum where people talk about tattoo machines, supplies, needles, pigments and typical tattoo shop endeavors. The site is basically a way for tattooers to exchange stories, information and give each other advice. Ciferri is a member of the Maryland Coalition for Professional Tattooists and the Annapolis-based Alliance for Professional Tattooists. Theses are both organizations working to ensure that tattooists are preventing disease transmission. Ciferri has had featured art on the cover of Tattoo Planet, and articles in International Tattoo, Tattoo Magazine, and an interview in the “Best of Baltimore 2000”, edition of the City Paper.