Living a dream for the love of tattoo
Two weeks ago, Anthony Bennett, 18, realized his life-long dream: opening his own business.
Bennett, who lived in North Carolina with his family for most of his life, moved back to Freeport a year ago, where his relatives originally lived, and opened a tattoo shop called “Lit Ink.”
He calls it that because he carries a brand of ink that glows under black lights, he said.
He has thousands of pieces of artwork on disk he offers customers and can do custom work, too.
Planned Since High School
Bennett and a friend had been talking about owning a tattoo shop since high school. For Bennett, it wasn’t a matter of whether he’d open a business; he’d been saving his whole life to do that, he said.
“I used to move band equipment for my Dad. I saved all the money they paid me to help out just to pretty much be able to open up my business one day,” Bennett said.
It was just a matter of choosing one that would succeed.
“I started out wanting a skate shop. But I started getting more and more art involved and we started talking about getting an apprenticeship to start tattooing,” Bennett said. “We talked to a couple of shops down south to get apprenticeship prices and moved back up to Illinois.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Tuesday, Bennett bent to his work, fixing a bad tattoo someone else did on a customer’s arm by tattooing over it with a larger one, a lion.
He looks at the needlework as a form of body expression. He is an artist, he said.
“I’ve been throwin’ down [applying tattoos] pretty good now,” he said. “This is something I’ve always dreamed of doing. It’s just fun to do it on a daily basis.”
Tattoos and Family
Bennett moved home because he wanted to be with his family again, and he just didn’t like the south, he said.
Families define him, even on his own body art. He has four tattoos, most of which display something to do with his family.
“One of them’s with family, one’s about my friends, and my whole entire left arm will be my heritage. So I don’t think I’ll regret anything I’ll be putting on me,” he said.
He loves “the needle under the skin,” he said. It doesn’t hurt much — it’s tolerable — and it’s fun, he said.
Just Hangs in Freeport
In Freeport, he likes to ride his bike, skate or “chill” with friends. “The major hangout in town is my house. All my friends like to come hang out with me because it’s something fun to do. If I’m not down here [working] I’m out with my friends having fun,” he said.
Born and raised in Rockford, he moved with his parents to North Carolina, then moved back to Rockford, but didn’t feel comfortable there, so he moved to Freeport, after his mother invested in a tattoo shop.
He apprenticed at her shop and then opened his own. He’s trained in first aid, licensed, and wants to do the business right for his customers.
“I know what to do in case their safety is in danger,” he said.
He keeps his chemicals encased in plastic, everything is sanitized and his “office” looks newly redecorated. The furniture is even new.
He’s a perfectionist, he said.
“I try to get all my customers the same respect I expect when I jump in the chair,” he said.