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Daily Journal
     September 29, 2021      #58-272 KDJ

Roger's Tattooing keeps thriving 

By Chris Breach

Teray Spence is where she thought she would always be. Spence, of Bradley, has been the owner of Roger’s Tattooing on West Broadway since Jan. 1.

Roger’s Tattooing is where she grew up learning the trade from her dad, Roger Kilman, who started the business back in 1984, just a block from where the studio operates now.

“I worked with my dad for the last 28 years, so it was an easy decision for me,” Spence said. “I’ve already been in it for 28 years. It’s what I worked for, and that was my goal. And he decided to retire. Now I took it over.”

Kilman started the shop in a temporary spot on West Broadway and soon thereafter opened Roger’s Tattooing at 171 W. Broadway St., where it stood until it moved to Kinzie Avenue in 2011.

Spence bought the business from her dad, effective Jan. 1, and she brought the location back to Broadway at 253 W. Broadway St. on May 1. She said her parents gave her a family discount on the sale.

“Yeah, you can say I got a very good family discount,” Spence said. “He made the business, he made it what it is today. I’m just carrying it on for him. ... I bought the business and the name, so I could keep it Roger’s Tattooing.”

The relationships Kilman built over the years kept customers coming back and new ones coming in the door for their body art and piercings.

“I just think that they were just good people,” said Spence, of her dad and mom Darlene. “Of course, there’s ups and downs in any business. Somehow they have kept it going all these years. So I don’t know exactly what they were doing, but whatever it was it was correct.”

Kilman learned the trade from Kent Sanders before he opened the shop. Now Sanders works as an artist at Roger’s today. Upon retirement, Roger and Darlene moved to Shreveport, La.

“[Kenny] taught my dad how to tattoo, so when my dad finally started tattooing, he already had clientele, he already had customers,” Spence said.

Spence, 53, also bought the building for the new location and put “a lot of money” into the new store, doing the renovations on her own.

“I love it. I absolutely love it,” she said. “I thought I was gonna stroke out a couple of times, getting it the way I wanted it, but I absolutely loved the location. I love the building. I just fell into a deal that I couldn’t refuse and bought the building.”

The new location has seven workstations, and Roger’s Tattooing employs seven tattoo artists, six of them are full time.

The new location, open seven days a week, gives them more room than they’ve had at any of the other locations.

There’s an art room where customers can look over examples of body art or piercings.

“I encourage all of them to be themselves and do their workstations to their personality,” Spence said. “We’re all different.”

That individuality and creativity is something Spence loves about the profession of a tattoo artist.

“It gives me freedom to, you know, be artistic and just let my mind go,” she said. “I love the people that come in and the conversations that we’ve had in here. I love all my people that I have working here. They all have different styles. They all bring something to the table.”

Each tattoo artist works as an apprentice with another artist for the first year.

“After that year. you have the option to stay and work where you’re at, or go out on your own,” Spence said. “... You know what has to be done before you can be set loose.”

One of Roger’s Tattooing’s apprentices, Daniel Douglas, is just finishing up his apprenticeship.

“I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

Spence sees the business continuing to thrive. In addition to offering tattoos, body piercings make up 50 percent of the business. Most of her customers come from greater Kankakee and near Chicago. The type of art customers request varies.

“We go all the way from old school Sailor Jerry tattoos, the new-school tattoos, and everything in between,” she said. “ I really don’t see it dying down anytime soon, because you’ve always got the next college kids coming out. You’ve always got that next generation. Yeah, I don’t see it dying down anytime soon.

“I think people will be going to Roger’s Tattooing until the end of time just because he’s been here so long.”

Roger's Tattooing

253 W. Broadway St., Bradley

Hours: 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., Sun.-Mon.; Wed.-Thurs.; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Tues., Fri.-Sat.

Phone: 815-939-2850.

Web: rogerstattooingandbodypiercing.com

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