As you walk in through the door of the seemingly ordinary shop on 4911 Georgia Ave NW, you can feel the pleasant passion and creativity pulsating from the speakers. Imagery of art and life in simultaneous birth and animation leave the senses with a feeling of peace and self-expression. Topp Dogg tattoo and piercing studio is home to many artists and art lovers; a place they and their creativity and inspiration become one.
L. B., a native of the DMV and also formerly of Oakland, CA, delved deep into the meaning of tattoos in society. As he explains, the world is changing in its perception of tattoos and other forms of body art. What was once seen as self-mutilation or in the negative context of gang affiliation is now being viewed through a scope of curiosity and understanding.
“It is an illustration of our humanity,” he responded, “people get tattoos for different reasons […] love, family […]it could be anything.” People have relationships with the artwork that is being placed on their bodies and those relationships are limitlessly powerful. As for his view on how it feels to have his artwork become a living part of someone’s life, he likened it to much more than appreciation of his efforts.
“It’s like a lifetime achievement award every time I finish a piece.”
It is also a place of growth. Eric ‘The Perfectionist’ Scott a.k.a. Perfect, an artist and apprentice at Topp Dogg, spoke with excitement about the apprenticeships and other programs taking root in the community that radiate art’s love for learning, expression, and transference of knowledge. He also expressed appreciation to Redz, the top dog at Topp Dogg, for putting the opportunity for artists like himself out there.
It’s all about passion, according to Perfect, they keep a professional and clean environment that allows the artist and the customers to share in the creation of their artwork. The artists at Topp Dogg take their craft very seriously and it is this intensity that helps create the truly beautiful works that the people who filter in and out of the shop praise as honest self-expression.