Owner of Royal Ink tries to make a positive difference
London Golphin, owner of Royal Ink Custom Tattoos at the corner of South Taylor and Cedar roads in Cleveland Heights, always had artistic talent. As a young man, drawing was his way of dreaming. He soon learned that he had the ability to translate his mental images to paper. As the years passed, the pressures of life and family took Golphin away from his artwork.
A few years later, Golphin began to search for his inner peace. After some thought, he identified two things that gave him peace: basketball and drawing. Although he knew that professional basketball was not in the cards for him, he found it rewarding to volunteer as a youth basketball coach at the Forest Hill Excel Learning Center.
In addition to coaching, Golphin returned to his passion for art, drawing in his free time. This time around, however, he recognized that he had some serious talent and began looking for something positive to do with his artistic gift.
Golphin said he noticed that Greater Cleveland lacked a good urban tattoo parlor. Most of the places around town specialized in traditional tattoos that used big, bold black lines, which he believed lacked character and originality. Golphin set out to open a parlor that truly defined Urban Ink for a new generation of tattoo enthusiasts. He opened his shop, Royal Ink, last December.
Customers of Royal Ink cannot get a plain tattoo in this shop. There aren’t any templates or predrawn designs to look at and choose from. Golphin’s parlor specializes in custom tattoos that vary greatly in style, and that truly express the term Urban Ink. Golphin’s tattoos feature lots of colors and characters with bold, eye-popping features. He leaves it up to the client to tell him how they want to express themselves in ink.
Golphin employs five artists, all of whom buy into his vision. In order to work at Royal Ink, an artist has to have a professional attitude, a strong desire to become great and to be a part of a team. Although talent is a must, it is not enough to remain on Golphin’s staff. The artist either meets the requirements, or leaves.
Royal Ink’s owner believes that it is important to teach children that they can do whatever they put their minds to, and that it is never too late to find one’s passion and use it to become successful. In addition to his work with youth basketball, Golphin donates his old shoes to a foundation that provides shoes to disadvantaged youths.
Christina Sanders is a senior at Cleveland State University and a FutureHeights intern.