This is the third of three stories profiling Clackamas County-based finalists for the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for small businesses.
Above The Pearl Tattoo, a private, appointment-only studio in Milwaukie, is one of three Clackamas County-based organizations selected as finalists for the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Oregon's Small Business of the Year.
Owner Tanya Magdalena said it had been her "childhood dream" to be a tattoo artist since she first fell in love with the medium at age 14. She went on to spend the early years of her working life as a graphic designer before eventually losing taste for the corporate world, making the leap in 2005 to a career in the tattoo industry and gaining education and apprenticeship from veteran artist Rio DeGennaro, who Magdalena said was "like a second dad" to her.
After spending years studying the craft, Magdalena opened Above the Pearl Tattoo in northwest Portland in 2007, relocating to Milwaukie in 2014. Now in her 17th year as a full-time tattoo artist, Magdalena said her craft requires the highest level of precision, concentration and care, a standard of excellence she proudly holds herself to.
"I take the art, craft and business of tattooing very seriously. It's permanent. There are no mistakes," Magdalena said in a statement to Pamplin Media Group. "I strive to uphold the highest level of integrity, ethics, and ethical practices, for both myself, and the industry."
Magdalena said she specializes in cover-up work, which clients may request in order to conceal aspects of their body that may be a constant physical reminder of something they would rather move on from. Common requests include covering up old tattoos and scars from self-harm or surgeries such as mastectomies.
Having spent so many years in the industry, she said she has "seen just about everything" and knows how tattoos can change with age, not only in terms of physical appearance, but meaning as well.
"I am dedicated to helping people move through major life changes, help navigate smart tattoo choices for their future, and correct the not-so-smart tattoo decisions from their past," Magdalena said.
Magdalena said that out of personal preference, she does not tattoo areas of the body that cannot easily be concealed with clothing, including "above the collar, below the wrists, or on faces," but emphasized that she holds no judgement towards what any person chooses to do with their body and can refer out to another local artist who does provide those services.
Magdalena said her tattoo studio has been an A+ accredited business with the Better Business Bureau since 2012 and she was recently invited by the bureau to apply for the small business award.
"Small businesses and local artisans are the heartbeat of unique and thriving communities," Magdalena said, adding that they can offer "individual and personalized attention in a world that is becoming increasingly automated and homogenized."
"Local dollars help local people pay their bills, put food on their tables, and supports families, and communities, and artists, instead of faceless giants," she added. "Support small businesses so they survive."
The 2021 BBB Torch Awards will take place Thursday, Oct. 28 at 1 p.m., streamed live on BBB's YouTube channel.
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