MERIDEN – Colin Hinchliff sees wearable and display art as a way to bring people together and get back downtown.
âIt’s a tattoo shop but it’s mainly to keep the lights on,â Hinchliff said. “What I really want to do is have a collective art gallery.”
Hinchliff, a longtime resident of the town, worked as an apprentice at a Branford tattoo shop for 15 years. Two months ago, he opened Time & Tide at 37 W. Main St.
âIt’s nice to have a four minute ride,â he said. âMeriden has always been interesting. We always feel a little oppressed. They have done an incredible job over the past 10 years. It can come back, if we’re willing to help each other make it a better place.
The walls of the 2,000 square foot tattoo studio and gallery are lined with artwork by various mediums by local artists from Killingworth to Torrington. There is a spacious lounge / waiting area, a workstation behind a counter and the gallery walls wind through the back of the building. Handmade soy pottery and candles are presented in wall mounted cases. Children’s books illustrated by a local author are on display.
Hinchliff does not charge fees for works sold.
âI want artists to come here, come together and help each other,â he said.
He has a group of high school art teachers ready to offer studio classes and seminars if he donates the supplies. He also wants to teach classes at WYSH House on Colony Street, a newly opened apartment complex for homeless young adults. It also offers a free cafÃ©-bar.
The city recently made tattoo parlors an accepted use in its transit-oriented neighborhood downtown. Hinchliff examined the space on Colony Street, but figured there would be more traffic on West Main Street.
West Main has seen new activity in recent months. El Mandao restaurant opened in a restaurant right after the courthouse, Silver City Firearms opened next to the police station this month, and a parcel store is expected to open soon.
With the exception of the restaurant, the properties are owned by owner and businessman Ross Gulino, who praised Hinchliff on his business plan and expertise in renovating the space for his new venture.
The beauty salon next door and the downtown cafe generate traffic on the West Main, Gulino said. He only has two empty showcases left – 5 Colony St. and 28 W. Main St.
Working with Gulino was more of a partnership than a business deal, Hinchliff said.
âI am doing my best to help them but they still have to invest,â said Gulino. “If they are successful, I am successful.”
People are starting to discover Time & Tide downtown and on social media. He also has clients who follow him from his old workshop in Branford and has hired an apprentice.
Hinchliff believes that the recent arrival of new salons has saturated the industry somewhat with novices. An important part of his job is fixing âbadâ tattoos.
âThat’s what people come for,â he said.
The new gun store, restaurant, beauty salon and restaurants in the city center see heavy traffic and Gulino’s work on the facades has revived the old buildings, said Joseph Feest, director of economic development. from the city.
âThe tattoo parlor is more than just a place to get a tattoo,â Feest said. âColin is also an artist with paintings for sale that he did with other artists. He has a very unique business that I think can work well in our city. “
Hinchliff said he will be successful when he can bring artists together.
âWhen I talk about having an art space, I mean it as globally as possible,â he said. “Not just paintings and tattoos, but authors and poets.”
[email protected]: @Cconnbiz