Tattoo shop draws in students

There is no shortage of tattoo shops in Burlington, but only one has been consistently recognized as the best.

Local newspaper Seven Days has named Yankee Tattoo as the “best place to get body art” every year since 2003.

Yankee Tattoo is located at 198 Pearl St., and is owned by Bill Henshaw, or Bald Bill, as he’s known in the business. The shop has been a part of Burlington for almost 20 years.

“Vermont legalized tattooing in 1996 and I opened up this shop [that same year],” Henshaw said.

Henshaw said he’s been tattooing professionally for 35 years. He started when he was 14, he said.

“When I was younger I had a lot of mothers pissed off at me,” Henshaw said.

Henshaw said he attended Massachusetts College of Art and Design, and later had a job designing advertisements for Yellow Pages.

“I learned more at the phone company than I did at Massachusetts College of Art,” Henshaw said. “It’s the real world.”

Henshaw said the pressure and precision required as a commercial artist prepared him for the same pressure and precision required in the tattooing business.

The shop has five total tattoo artists including Henshaw and two piercers. One artist, Jim DuVal, has been with Henshaw almost since the opening.

After attending Johnson State College, DuVal said he moved to Burlington and met Henshaw.

“[Henshaw and I] got to be friends over time [and] I’d come in and watch him tattoo. I started working here and eventually started tattooing,” DuVal said.

DuVal said that tattoo artists experience a sort of “Peter Pan” effect since they are constantly surrounded by youth culture. In Burlington a lot of that comes from the students.

“[I’ve tattooed] thousands [of UVM students] over the years. I’ve got a group of UVM students that I work on consistently now,” he said.

DuVal said past UVM graduates that he tattooed still come back to Yankee Tattoo for touch-ups.

“There are whole groups of kids that I tattooed when they were 18 and now they’re 30 and they still come back,” he said. “You get to watch these people evolve.”

Henshaw said the shop gains respect because of this.

“Our artists have been here for a long time,” he said. “You can get a tattoo and come back and get it touched up by the same artist.”

Tiffany Sarandis comes to Yankee Tattoo regularly for touch-ups on her sleeve of flowers. DuVal retouches and fixes mistakes from other artists.

“We’ve got a great reputation [and] we take care of our clients very well,” Henshaw said.