For a decade, Liberty Tattoo Company
has been on the face on Main Street, Smithtown. Owner and Tattooer Dan Lavery opened shop in February of 2012 and has been tattooing at 17 E. Main Street Smithtown ever since. The crew at Liberty consists of full time tattooer Jon who was there from the start, Adam who's been there going on 8 years, Nick who tattoos part-time and Val the piercer who has also been there about 8 years. Smithtown Main Street has seen its fair share of turnover, and Liberty has been a solid staple of the past 10 years. The reputation of the shop really lives within the crew's dedication to a safe and sanitary environment that produces good clean work. In the past six months they have been busier than ever, which speaks volumes over anything I could even write here about their overall quality - but I'll humor myself and elaborate anyway.
the economic recession of 2012
didn't provide optimal conditions for opening a business - but for Dan Lavery it was time. He had outgrown his previous spot and decided that opening a place of his own was the best move for him and his family. His twin girls were only months old, his son two, when the doors of LTC opened "My wife may have wanted to kill me for a moment, timing was rough," he explains "but really it's family no matter what, and we knew that ultimately this was the best move for us." We started to chat about the trap that is entrepreneurship, that you go in thinking you'll have more time and get to make your own hours, but a successful business is built when you're there - so it is a bit of a catch 22. You will notice that Liberty Tattoo Company is closed on Sundays, giving the entire team a weekend day at home giving time to who and what matters most.
Currently Dan is looking for additions to his team "We are too busy to only be us right now," he says - which is pretty remarkable since in 2020 they were closed for 100 days. Tattooers only profit when they are physically working, so to be closed for that long and to still remain open and steady is a testament to who they are as craftsmen, and as people. Dan saw support through shutdown, people ordering hoodies and merchandise on-line, and those who came to get work done the second they could. As much as we didn't want to focus on that particular topic, it is a part of the conversation. Tattooing may have not been deemed essential, but these tattooers are essential pillars in their households - it was a tough spot for many. A brick was thrown through their window during that time being closed, but Liberty held tight and opened their doors again to their loyal clientele and haven't looked back since.
Dan was always curious and interested in tattooing and started messing around at age 15, only to get serious with an apprenticeship at 18. After two years of that hard work and dedication, he became a full time tattooer. "It's really all about being consistent, doing consistent clean work, doing consistent good work, getting consistently better, all of that," he says when we talk about his career, he keeps himself to pretty high professional and personal standards which is why Liberty Tattoo Company has such a quality reputation. Opening in Smithtown was interesting, when the public got wind of a tattoo shop coming to town they were disliked without really being known. A decade later, that white noise is a very distant memory and Liberty Tattoo is a well-known and well liked business in the Smithtown community. Choosing the location came from a place of respect, not to step on any other's shops toes and brought Dan into the heart of where his clientele was already traveling from. Now if you mention that you got a tattoo or a piercing in Smithtown, it is usually followed by someone saying, "Oh, at Liberty?"
Dan values his privacy when it comes to his life outside the shop, his wife and kids are his top priority and he feels grateful to have had made a living off of tattooing for all of these years. His advice to anyone coming up in the industry is to find good teachers and mentors - not someone who will take advantage of you even though you will be working hard and giving a lot. It's a tough way to make a living, it requires a lot of skill and dedication but in the end it is worth it. He has had clients coming to him from when he first started full time, and new clients come in every day. Liberty is a shop that hosts so many people, and Dan admits that seeing their stickers or people out and about wearing their shirts and hoodies is pretty cool.
I knew that this one was going to feel a little personal
Steve and I have been Dan’s clients since before he opened Liberty. Chances are if you run into us, we are the people wearing some sort of Liberty gear. Sometimes people and places just click, and Dan is someone I have admired in business and supported as a pal for quite a while and especially now. It really is incredible to look back on some of the connections that otherwise you'd think would be small, but instead they last. Keeping a brick and mortar shop open on a Main Street for a decade is no easy feat, Dan and the crew at Liberty Tattoo Company truly deserve the observation and praise for this awesome milestone. Seeing the shop, how far it has come, and everything this crew has built with their own hands is an incredible thing to witness and document. I am proud to know you Dan, Congratulations on 10 years this year, the success of Liberty Tattoo Company is well deserved.