MTV’s “How Far is Tattoo Far?” is a sort of game show-Maury Povich hybrid. Twosomes, whether they are lovers, friends or frenemies, design meaningful tattoos for each other — pieces that are then drawn on to the other’s back, thigh, chest. During the show’s climax, hosts Snooki (of “Jersey Shore”) and Nico Tortorella (“Younger”) mediate the big reveal, whether it’s a marriage proposal or rage-tears.
Meaningful isn’t always a good thing.
Travis Ross, a regular tattooer on the show, is opening a pop-up shop soon at Miller Hill Mall. The Lost Cove Co., located next door to Kay Jewelers and Motherhood Maternity, opens Jan. 1 with a planned “Lost Boys” aesthetic and a rotation of visiting artists like Bernadette Macias of CMT’s “Tattoo Titans” and Lemeir Mitchell from VH1’s “Black Ink Crew Compton.”
The shop will also carry apparel inspired by Los Angeles surf styles.
“What we wanted to do is take the concept of a tattoo convention and make it more laid back,” said Ross, who is originally from Minnesota. “We want to bring the subculture of tattoos around the country and around the world.”
This is believed to be the first tattoo shop at the 40-plus-year-old mall, for sure the first with celebrity tattoo artists, according to general manager Katie Kaz.
"I think it's a very exciting and unique concept for the mall," she said. "We've never seen anything like this before. It's going to bring a lot of new traffic and excitement to the mall for the month."
She was approached about the project by Ross' business partner, Aaron Larson, who lives in the area and had gotten to know Ross when he was working in Minneapolis.
Ross, 32, said he is a hip-hop musician-turned tattoo artist who has worked as an unpaid apprentice on Sunset Boulevard who had to ditch his sailor art style when he shifted to Venice Beach. He practiced portrait work for a few years, he said, before setting up on the boardwalk.
Since then, Ross has done guest spots at shops, hit conventions and traveled. He has been on “How Far is Tattoo Far?” for two seasons and said he is in the process of creating a new show that looks at tattoo culture around the world.
He describes his style as “surrealist black and gray,” and portraits with extra components.
“There’s so much culture and spirituality and art on the skin,” he said. “It’s captivating to me.”
He said a lot of people have pre-booked appointments for the pop-up. He plans to save Saturdays for walk-ins.
Ross is taking shop cues from a tattoo shop scene in the 1987 movie “The Lost Boys,” a vampire movie starring Kiefer Sutherland, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Jami Gertz. He’s promoting The Lost Cove Co. as a lifestyle brand, not just a tattoo shop.
“I’m huge into surfing,” he said. “I was trying to think of a name that gave it mystique.”