It's Friday night at 11 p.m., and instead of joining the antics of the typical booze-ridden downtown Fort Lauderdale scene, I've decided to do something a bit different. After a long night at work, I make my way over to get in line for Formula Ink's special $13 Friday the 13th tattoo event.
I arrive before midnight, but there are already dozens of patient patrons in line ahead of me, all craving the taste of ink. For this thirst, there is only one quencher, and owner Holden Ritchison, Gwen Gersich, Mondo Arroyo, and the other tattoo artists of Formula (including Ryan Mallory and Dan TV of Formula Ink 2) are armed with well-oiled tattoo machines, ready to take on the droves of tattoo enthusiasts who await the needle.
Ritchison opened Formula Ink in December 2008, providing a superclean, friendly, and passionate haven for tattoo collectors in one of the country's top tattoo meccas. Ritchison has been tattooing for nearly 20 years, his talent and style quickly becoming a noticeable staple of the South Florida tattoo community -- recognizable among the gobs of off-the-wall tattoos popular among binge-drinking spring break collegiates, sunburned tourists, and unfortunately uninformed locals in the Fort Lauderdale area.
With nearly 45 million Americans already inked and more joining the craze every day, it's no wonder that Ritchison's shop is thriving. In fact, in December 2011, he and his team opened a second Formula Ink location in the hub of Wilton Manors, employing two additional topnotch artists, making it almost impossible to not have a Formula "stamp" of approval.
I suppose it was a little naive, then, to think that I could just walk in to the shop that posted its event all over social networking sites and not expect to wait, but it was shocking to see how many steadfast fans were in it for the long run, some camping out on the shop's comfy sofas for five freakin' hours! Luckily, though, there was plenty to look at, especially since South Florida-based design company Iron Forge Press provided prints for sale that decorated the already art-clad walls.
I finally got to sit in the elusive chair at 1 a.m. with artist and friend Gwen Gersich. Among the five sheets of flash handpicked and created especially for Friday the 13th, I decide on a traditional cherry design and kindly asked Gersich, who luckily complied, if she could add a 1 and 3. The tattoo itself takes less than the time it took for my name to be called, but the experience was in no way underwhelming.
That's the greatest part of what Gersich, Holden, and the other artists at Formula Ink do. No matter what the size or price range, the tattoo experience is always personal, intimate, and fun. I've even brought my 8-year old son to the shop when I've gotten tattooed! The atmosphere is about as unpretentious as you can get, and even though my little Friday the 13th cherry took just over 20 minutes, it was worth every second.
- Elizabeth Smith
For more information or to book an appointment, visit or call Formula Ink at 954-566-6614 or visit the shop Tuesday to Sunday from noon to midnight at 3045 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. Also, visit Formula Ink 2 from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. or call 954-530-7041 at 1210 NE Fourth Ave., Wilton Manors. Visit formulainktattoo.com.