By Dawn Hunt


Tattoos and piercings are art forms as old as mankind itself. Used as vivid visuals of expression, tattoos and piercings have been etched and attached to human skin for over 5,000 years to mark social status, convey beliefs, and even act as healing amulets. It wasn’t until a few hundred years ago that tattoos and piercings became personal and/or fashion statements more than ways to scare away enemies.

With that new purpose, it isn’t hard to see how the music world and tattoos/piercings formed a lasting bond deeper than any ink can seep or needle can pierce. Music is a form of self-expression, tattoos and piercings are forms of self-expression, so the three are often grouped together as accessories for the other, all shouting to the world, “This is who I am!”

Rose Gold’s Marie McCarthy—the lovely firecracker who also owns apparel shop Fiat Lux in the Castro—decided long ago that tattooing was a major interest for her. “I’ve always been really into the industry, and when I got back to SF … my direction in life seemed to point back toward the industry.” Her drive to share her devotion to ink led her to opening her first tattoo parlor, Soul Patch in the Haight. As time went on, however, she decided to cut ties with her investor and open Rose Gold’s on her own.

“I was two blocks down the street before I walked into our current space and signed the lease before the day was out. You never see exposed brick and a 14-foot skylight in SF! The location was also convenient for my previous clients to find me, and the neighborhood had supported me for 10-plus years.”

In SF especially, where everyone from preschool teachers to preachers has at least one tattoo or piercing, it’s easy to see why devoted locals and traveling musicians alike call on the stellar Rose Gold’s staff and artists (each with over 20 years of experience).

The Bay’s music scene in particular certainly provides a steady—and varied—client base. Music-inspired tattoos—“the most popular is musical notes, microphones, and that heart/bass/treble clef design,” says McCarthy—are a top choice at the parlor. There’s even a current bet at Rose Gold’s on who can do the best vintage microphone. But the connection is deeper than that.

“A tattoo artist recently elaborated on the creative similarities between creating music and creating tattoos,” says McCarthy. “There will always be a connection and a crossover. Almost every tattoo is a collaboration, and we tattoo all kinds of musicians, from newbies to huge stars. … Music and tattooing are both intense forms of art and creativity. You are pushing yourself to the boundaries. I really feel that, more often than not, it is the most expressive way to celebrate the moment and one’s individuality. It allows you to show the world that you’re singular and that you believe in your own ideas.”

Still, Marie wants Rose Gold’s to make tattooing and piercing accessible for people who perhaps don’t know as much about the practice but are interested. “I want the experience itself to be amazing, not just the tattoo.”

Tattoos and piercings tell your story to the world through ink and metal, just as any musician plays and sings theirs, so be sure to think carefully about what you want your message to say… and be sure to spell-check.

Visit Rose Gold’s Tattoo and Piercing 1157 Masonic San Francisco

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This article was published in:
Music Issue - Released January 2013
Issue 1 / Version 3 | Buy print copy here
Issue 11
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