Daydreaming pays off for new Lansing tattoo shop owner


After 12 years in the tattoo industry, Jero Garza had grown weary of life on the convention circuit.

For years, it had him traveling from coast to coast, peddling his craft to tattoo enthusiasts both in Michigan and nationwide. However, following an appearance in Minneapolis in early January, he decided enough was enough.

“I woke up one morning about a month and a half ago and decided I was tired of going to work for someone else,” he said. “I spent a lot of my time driving back and forth. I just didn’t want to do that anymore.”

He contacted two of his best friends, fellow tattoo artists Jacob Hendrickson of Darkside Studios in Cadillac and Ohio artist Chris Taube, and told them he was considering opening his own shop. They pledged their support and promised to make guest appearances until he could recruit a full team.

By Feb. 8, Daydream Tattoo Studio  was up and running in a 1,100-square-foot space at 1568 E. César E. Chávez Ave. in Lansing, just off Oakland Avenue.

“I would drive by the building every day, and it always got my attention. It was a cool spot that’s like five blocks from my house, and I thought it would be awesome to be able to walk or ride a bike to work. So, I took it, and it was ready to open within three weeks,” Garza said.

Garza, 38, specializes in realistic horror-style tattoos. In addition to Hendrickson and Taube, who still come in to help on occasion, he hired another artist and is in the process of bringing a second employee on board this month. His goal is a staff that can provide a variety of styles.

“After 12 years, you know, I figure I’ve built a decent name, and I think this could be a fun place where people would want to work. I could share my experience; I can help open doors for people. I just want to see the industry and its artists grow,” Garza said.

When he settles in with a full team of four resident artists, including himself, he plans to continue to make convention appearances under the Daydream Tattoo Studio banner.

Their first opportunity will come next month, when Lansing hosts the Tattoo City Tattoo Convention April 26 through 28.

“After that, we’ve already lined up events in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Nashville and Chicago — pretty much wherever there’s a big show in a big city,” Garza said.

He said one benefit to having a presence at these conventions is that it gives him and his team more opportunities to connect with and learn from other talented artists. He hopes some of them might be interested in visiting Lansing as guest artists.

“I want to bring in all these big-game guys and have diverse guest artists in the shop. I want to get the lettering specialists from Chicago; the portrait artists from Dayton, Ohio; or the American-traditional dude from Philadelphia — specifically, people who do their work very, very well,” he said.

Garza sees his new business venture as the culmination of a lifetime of dreaming, which is how it got its name.

“It was the one thing my mom always told me to stop doing when I was little: ‘You have your head in the clouds. Stop daydreaming.’ Well, now, I showed her,” he said with a laugh.

Having actualized his dream, however, Garza has shifted his focus back to the tangible, emphasizing cleanliness, safety and customer satisfaction. 

“We’re just really focused on growth and trying to bring something fresh to the community,” he said. “Our goal is to provide a high-end service where the customer experience is number one.”



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