Frankie Frieri’s Three Roses Studio in Fairfield doesn’t get walk-in traffic, primarily because his business does not have a direct street entrance — one has to take an elevator to the lower level of the 1177 Post Road complex where he is based. Not that Frieri minds. He runs a one-man operation and does not want unexpected people wandering in off the street and into his combination tattoo studio and art gallery.
“My clients are looking for an intimate and personal space,” he explained. “I don’t have any walk-ins. I could make triple the money if I was upstairs or if I had more artists, but it’s not about the money. This is about doing good work with great clients.”
Frieri is proud of running the first and only tattoo studio in the town of Fairfield. “A lot of people wanted to open up here, but Fairfield didn’t want them,” he said, adding that it took him five years of negotiating with the town before he received the go-ahead to open in June 2016. “I’m from around here and I wanted to open up a different studio that is not your usual studio. I would say that 99.9 percent of the studios around here look like a biker hangout or a hospital setting. This is a private, by-appointment place.”
Frieri describes his client base as “college kids from Fairfield University and Sacred Heart, businessmen, working men and soccer moms from Fairfield, Westport, New Canaan, Darien — people who always wanted to get tattooed but would never go to a traditional studio because it was intimidating.” He estimated that 70 percent of his clients are women, and his oldest client has been an 82-year-old woman who came in with her granddaughter for each to receive the same tattoo design.
But Frieri is also strict regarding his limits. “I don’t do anybody under the age of 18,” he stated. “I don’t do anything visible — no hands, necks, throats, faces. It’s art, so I have to have some kind of class.”
Art is a dominant theme at Three Roses Studio. Frieri specializes in recreating traditional Japanese tattoo art, and his studio is rich with books on art history and multicultural designs. Frieri noted that he needed to be cognizant of diverse artistic traditions in order to respond to the most esoteric of customer design requests.
“My clients bring a lot of original ideas,” he said. “Anything from mandala to sacred geometry work.”
Adjacent to Frieri’s tattoo studio is an art gallery that he uses to display his paintings and the works of local artists. “There are a lot of artists out there (who) have no place to show,” he lamented.
The gallery space is donated to local individuals who host community-focused activities and events. “We have yoga every other Thursday, book readings, poetry nights, comedy nights, paint and sip parties every last Friday of the month, and knitting club that meets every Wednesday,” he said, adding that his mother was the driving force behind the knitting club.
Frieri’s tattoo work does not fit into an easy pricing structure. He charges a $150 minimum for an hour of labor, but he noted that elaborate work ranging from arm sleeves to full upper torso designs can cost tens of thousands of dollars and require years to complete. Frieri does not charge for touch-up work, but he advised clients to avoid excessive sun exposure in order to maintain the vibrancy of the ink colors.
Frieri’s work has caught the notice of regional media outlets that cover tattoo design, and clients from the New York City metro area and the neighboring New England states have found their way to his studio. As for moving out of his lower level set-up and into a more visible environment, Frieri insisted that was off the table.
“I’m fairly busy,” he said. “I’m almost booked for all of 2019.”