The Bowery really was electric on Friday evening, standing amongst a crowd of family and friends honoring an inspirational man: Mike Bakaty, who passed away at the end of January. It was a farewell (nay, celebration) to a tattoo legend, hosted at his favorite neighborhood bar, Bowery Electric, and attended by friends and loved ones. Even some biker buddies from DC were in attendance.
We stood to raise a glass, to cheers, to find the silver lining in his passing, or as Bakaty dubbed it, the”upshot.” We spoke from the heart, we embraced, we laughed and we cried because this man – a pioneer in the world of tattooing and an icon on the Lower East Side – is no longer with us.
One of Mike’s sons – Mehai Bakaty stood with two of his brothers and spoke resounding words to an audience bound by one man.
Here is Mehai’s soulful speech and some pictures from the event.
“They say you’re not really dead until the last person has spoken your name so I think our goal is to let that be a while before that actually happens.”
Mike, we have your voice, your laughter, your wisdom for all to hear, and of course, our memories. It will be a while.
The upshot is you will always be with us.
For those who don’t know you, could you please introduce yourself?
My name is Mike Shea, I make tattoos at Redemption Tattoo in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A. I have been tattooing professionally for 13 years.
You co-own Redemption Tattoo with Erick Lynch. How did you both come to the decision to open your own place?
Well tattooing was illegal in the state of Massachusetts until 2002, and up until that point Erick and I had been working in New Hampshire at different shops. When it finally got legalized in Boston, we got together and decided it would be good timing and a good idea to try and make a move and open something up, so we went for it.
Can you tell us a little about the shop and the artists working there?
Our shop is a custom tattoo shop that does walk-ins whenever there is time to do one (most people these days want something custom to some extent). As for artists at the shop, we have Josh McAlear who’s been with us for about 5 years now, Ben McClellan who’s been with us for almost two years, Salty Dave who was our apprentice and pretty much now does his own thing and is starting to tattoo full time, Joe Bastek who has worked with us for a few years but now does one day a week with us, Jeff the shop guy who makes our lives easier, and myself and Erick.
Doc Ink is a brazilian web series of short episodes featuring some of that country’s most respected tattooers. It was introduced to us by São Paulo-based tattooer Nico Acosta. Enjoy episode #3!
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