DeKALB – Nick Misitano had to make a decision several months ago while working as a tattoo artist in Key Largo, Fla.: Continue his craft in another city or start his own business near where he grew up.
Looking back, the right choice was an obvious one.
“What made me want to come home was family and wanting to see my kids play with my nephews,” Misitano said. “I would have never gotten the chance to see my kids grow up with their cousins. Once that time is gone, you don’t ever get that back.”
So Misitano moved his wife and three sons to the DeKalb area, found a spot where he could open his own shop and got to work painting walls, decorating and getting the paperwork straight with the city. The fruition of his efforts, DeKalb Tattoo Company, opened Sept. 10 at 817 W. Lincoln Highway, Unit A.
Right away, his shop was drawing crowds.
“As soon as I changed the lettering on our sign saying, ‘Hey we’re open,’ within five minutes, four or five people came by,” Misitano said.
For now, Misitano runs a one-man show. He does all tattoo and piercing work himself and is in no hurry to bring on more help. Rather, he enjoys having total control over customer relations and administrative duties.
DeKalb may be home to two other tattoo shops, Proton Tattoo and Out on a Whim Tattoo Company, but neither boasts the proximity to Northern Illinois University’s campus of DeKalb Tattoo Company.
“A lot of customers don’t have cars; they walk or they’re on a bike,” Misitano said. “... This shopping center gets packed at night.”
Misitano grew up in Plato Center and graduated from Burlington Central High School in 2004. His college plans did a 180-degree turn after he discovered tattooing.
“I actually wanted to be a youth pastor and go to [Moody Bible Institute],” Misitano said. “I’ve just been tattooing since I’ve been out of high school, and I’m fortunate. Not a lot of people get to do what they want.”
He says reaction from the community has been positive.
“It’s really nice to see that hometown spirit, other mom-and-pop places wanting to see another mom-and-pop place do well,” he said.
DeKalb Tattoo Company
Address: 817 W. Lincoln Highway, Suite A, DeKalb