STORIES BY LAURA RIVERA-LOPEZ

Tattoo Artist Navigates Work During the Pandemic

Published: Nov. 15, 2020

As businesses begin to open, many tattoo and piercing shops have started booking clients again. This follows months of tattoo and piercing stores being closed, forcing its artists to be temporarily unemployed. 

For tattoo artist Christian Elias, reopening has given him back a stable income.

As tattoo shops have been allowed to open, Elias sets up his station for the day. Photo by Laura S. Rivera-Lopez.

More than 18 million Americans lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 after states shutdown nonessential businesses, according to the Labor Department. 

Although many unemployed citizens were able to get benefits through unemployment programs and other state benefits, it was much harder for freelance artists to earn an accurate estimate of their paycheck. 

A VICE article, which interviewed 20 artists, said that almost every artist believed they could only last a month on their savings.

Elias was in the same boat. Unable to pinpoint how much money he lost during the shutdown, he says he felt the impacts from missing months of work. But he maintained hope. 

While he wasn’t able to tattoo during the pandemic, he decided to create merchandise and sell it to his clients to help keep himself afloat. He also drew up commissions to keep himself busy.

Now that Ink Smith and Rogers, the shop he works at, is officially open, Elias feels better about his situation. The shop has been taking covid-related precautions, especially because tattooing is contact art.

“It’s been busy, but we have been taking precautions with everything that’s going on,” Elias said. “Temperature checks at the door, everyone’s required to wear a mask when they’re getting tattooed, and we are no longer allowing guests to be with the person that’s being tattooed.”

In light of the pandemic, Elias said that despite it not influencing his art style, it did show him how much creativity he has when he’s in a tough spot.

“Making stickers, pins, buttons, t-shirts – stuff like that where I can support myself during lockdown by selling those things,” said Elias. “So it kind of made me realize how important those things were even when I have the ability to tattoo, to be able to make a little bit of extra income.”

Movie Theatres Work Around COVID-19 as Restrictions are Lifted

Published: Oct. 26, 2020

Movie theaters have begun to open, after being completely shut down by the coronavirus pandemic. Theaters are now urging families to come enjoy their movies once more, as restrictions are being lifted in Jacksonville.

This is the case for Sun-Ray Cinema, a small cinema located in Five Points Riverside. Co-owner Shana David-Massett works alongside Tim Massett to ensure that Sun-Ray Cinema is safe for customers.

Movie theaters such as Sun-Ray cinema have now opened due to the lifting of restrictions. Photo by Laura Rivera-Lopez.

Sun-Ray Cinema isn’t the only theater trying to bring in clientele. Cinemark Tinseltown has also urged people to come back to its theater, reaching out to customers via email. Other theaters including AMC Regency, Regal and San Marco Theater have opened and are working to attract people to come see movies.

According to David-Massett, ever since their doors opened, business has been strong.

“We’ve had hundreds of guests walk-in through these doors,” David-Massett said. “Thankfully we’ve had many people come to enjoy our movies.”

Sun-Ray has also taken into account the necessary precautions to keep their guests safe.

“We have guests reserve seats, and we block out two seats to their sides so that no one can get near them,” David-Massett said. “We also have a sanitation gun that is able to spray down seats and break down COVID into teeny-tiny little particles that can’t hurt anyone.”

Movie theaters are also allowing customers to rent out entire rooms to ensure guest safety.

Sun-Ray Cinema has a promotion called “Sun-Ray Cinema On-Demand,” where guests can pay to rent out a movie theater to safely enjoy a movie at their own pace. Guests are able to pause the movie. Sun-Ray Cinema’s promotion allows up to 15 guests per room that is rented out. Other theaters are offering similar packages to draw in customers.

Movie theaters have also limited their operating hours to help prevent infections. Many theaters open only when a movie is showing, giving employees time to sanitize the theaters in between showings and ensure customer safety.

“We don’t have any special offers, but we offer the safety of our customers, and the assurance that they will be able to enjoy themselves safely,” David-Massett said. “And there’s no better promotion than that.”