Calling all transit nerds: you can actually get a tattoo in a replica subway car, built to the exact dimensions of a real one. TuffCity Styles is a tattoo and piercing shop on East Fordham Road in the Bronx with an interior designed to look like a subway station, subway cars and all. The Founder of TuffCity, Med, who was born and raised in the Bronx, grew up riding trains and was instantly entranced by the graffiti covering the entirety of the subway cars. Med’s father worked as a conductor for the MTA. In homage to his father and inspired by his childhood, Med decided to incorporate life-size subway cars into his parlor. He describes TuffCity as a “clash of two subcultures” – tattoo and graffiti. He felt that the subway transit theme tied in these two ideas seamlessly.
What makes TuffCity Styles stand out amongst other tattoo parlors is that its artists all share a background in graffiti. Each artists has a subway car inside the shop that they decorated themselves. Each client has their service performed inside their very own subway car. TuffCity offers a variety of services such as professional cosmetic tattooing, body piercing, and micro-blading.
In 2007, TuffCity added an outdoor yard with walls for artists to paint on. In the yard there is also a mock MTA subway train with multiple cars for artists to use as their canvas. TuffCity takes pride in their mission to allow artists a space to gather and create; they sell paint and other art supplies for all creators. Med says artists from all over the world, from countries such as France and Korea, travel to the Bronx to create their own murals in the TuffCity yard. Especially in warmer months, the yard changes almost every single day.
Middle Man Med explains that originally, TuffCity started out as a meeting place for “people coming to paint and hangout from graffiti culture.” He says that graffiti culture has its own “secret world” from which people of all different backgrounds and countries are united through the art form. Graffiti is “a whole culture that goes overlooked because it’s deemed as a nuisance,” Med explains.
Med founded TuffCity himself, and it grew as he asked his fellow graffiti artists to join him and learn how to tattoo. Three locations later, TuffCity Styles has grown into a renowned shop known for its unique combination of graffiti and tattoo. It has spread globally to Japan, France, Korea and other countries.
TuffCity Styles is a unique twist on your average tattoo parlor, with an infusion of graffiti culture and the aesthetics of MTA transit. If you’re an avid transit enthusiast, TuffCity Styles is a must-see location.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of the NYC Subway.
Get in touch with the author @vickykalpaxis