Though he studied theater at SUNY New Paltz, Adam Lauricella found himself drawn to become a tattoo artist. “I like the art of theater, I just didn’t like the industry of it,” he says. “I had been getting tattooed by Chris Chisholm [formerly of Newburgh], and I decided I wanted to explore that art form.” Since 2003, he has presided over Graceland Tattoo, a hip-yet-retro spot enhanced by Elvis images, paint-by-number canvases, and a gallery of art from up-and-coming tattoo artists as well as celebrated icons like Honolulu’s Norman Collins (aka Sailor Jerry, often called the godfather of American tattooing). A portrait of Stony St. Clair, an Ohio tattooer who had rheumatoid arthritis, hangs prominently. “He had such a good outlook,” says Lauricella, who lives with his wife Keely (“she doesn’t do tattoos, she doesn’t even have tattoos”) and two young daughters. “It’s a reminder about the power of being positive.”
Hometown: Wappingers Falls
First tattoo: I was just out of high school. It was a crescent moon with the face of a woman in it. It was on my upper shoulder. I regret covering it; now I would have left it.
Standout tattoo: A friend’s father had this big bed of blue roses on the top of his forearm that I just thought was super-cool when I was a kid.
The name? I’ve never been to Graceland, but I like how it sounds, the word “grace.” At the time I was into rockabilly and Americana, and drove a ’66 Fairlane convertible.
His aesthetic: I like the traditional American tattoo: girls, skulls, daggers, snakes, birds, panthers, that type of thing. It has power and it’s made to last. Sometimes people want something that is so highly detailed on such a small scale that it will never hold up over time. I like the silhouette, using skin tone in the design. I don’t want my tattoos to have just ink in them.
Artistic influences: I’m very into pop art, Egyptian art, primitive art. I usually have music on when I’m working: old David Bowie, Bob Dylan. I’m not a fan of aggressive sounds.
Challenges: Having two young kids has given me a different perspective on my life. It’s changed how I view my purpose, and the purpose of my art. It’s difficult when you’re always giving of yourself. A lot of the time you give someone a tattoo and you never see them again. And what is totally odd is when you hear of someone who has passed away who has one of your tattoos.
Really excited about: I’ve been painting a lot with ink and gouache. I do them kind of subconsciously, in one or two minutes. It’s very un-tattoo… I just try to do the anti-daily thing. I live life as an artist, and I’m grateful for that. I saw something the other day on social media, this person wrote, “I’m so bored.” I haven’t been bored in 30 years! If you’re 40 and you’re bored, there’s something wrong.
Find him at Graceland Tattoo, Wappingers Falls