HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) - Forrest Stucky was recently released from prison and started asking around about tattoos.
Luis Gutierrez’s name kept coming up, so Stucky went to Gutierrez’s new shop to get a tattoo on his neck.
“Usually, if you want some real quality ink you have to go to Wichita or Kansas City,” said Stucky, who did tattoos in prison. “It’s nice to have someone who can execute what you want done.”
Word has spread quickly about Hutchinson’s newest tattoo shop.
Redemption Ink Tattoo, named in remembrance of the freedom outside of prison Gutierrez thought he would never see, opened at a space inside of Legends Barbershop after passing inspection last month. Gutierrez and his wife, Melissa, started seeing customers that afternoon and already booked customers through their first two weeks.
Barbershop owner, Thomas Galindo, told The Hutchinson News that all walks of life come through the doors each day.
“We got Mexican, black, white,” he said about the barbers and clients. “It’s an urban barbershop in Hutchinson.”
Most of Galindo’s barbers spent time in prison; Galindo even spent roughly a decade behind bars.
Barber Dereck “Chief” Chappell cut hair with Galindo at Hutchinson Correctional Facility. The other barbers, Galindo said, sought him out.
“That accountability is for both of us,” Galindo said about him and his barbers.
Galindo said all the barbers try to be positive role models for their young clients, while proving to everyone else that people can change.
“We (have a) good relationship, don’t you think?” Galindo asked 7-year-old Quentin Manwarren, who he calls “Lil’ Red” for his red hair.
The boy shook his head yes. Galindo has cut his hair for years.
Galindo was released from prison in 2011 and started Legends Barbershop in 2013. Galindo and Gutierrez hadn’t seen each other in years; the last time they were both at Lansing Correctional Facility.
Gutierrez was sentenced to life in prison in 1992 for first-degree murder after a fight with a friend turned violent. Sentenced under the old guidelines, Gutierrez’s only way out was with parole board approval.
The parole board gave him a chance in July 2016.
Gutierrez did his first tattoo at the age of 9 under a former prisoner and tattoo artist who first made him practice on a water bottle for two weeks. The water bottle was to teach Gutierrez depth perception. The man showed Gutierrez how to make a tattoo gun motor using a Walkman cassette player, and young Gutierrez started tattooing whenever he could for money, candy, even food.
He did thousands of tattoos in prison. He even had a “Tattoo Bible” smuggled in so he could master his craft. But while on parole, Redemption Ink in Wichita finally gave him a chance to become a professional tattoo artist. He did an apprenticeship there for a year and became certified as a tattoo artist.
Gutierrez’s younger brother, who the parolee took in to keep on a straight path, played football at Hutchinson High School. At a game last season, he bumped into Galindo who was watching his son play.
The two talked about putting a tattoo shop in Legends Barbershop. Galindo had a desk installed and a room furnished for the tattoo shop; he also started the approval process to have a tattoo shop at the location. In the meantime, Galindo had a TV in his barbershop that only displayed Gutierrez’s work. When people asked about the tattoos on the screen, Galindo would give them Gutierrez’s contact information.
Gutierrez estimated 40 percent of his clients work in Wichita but live in Hutchinson. He’s had people travel even further for tattoos.
Galindo figured as much.
“If people travel for haircuts that last two weeks,” Galindo said, “I figured … they would travel for something that lasts a lifetime.”
Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com
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