In the winter of 1981, a scrawny twelve year old Brooklyn-born kid by the name of Michael McLeer hung from the beam of an elevated B train. Spray can in hand, sneaker against steel, he felt spraypaint adorn the surface of an MTA train car for the first time. When he wrote the name KAVES, he penned the beginning of a folklore that spanned New York City's restless, crumbling, hip-hop fueled 1980s and 90s. Over the era, Kaves, a "Brooklyn boy who makes good" took paintings from traincars to museums and galleries. He took hip-hop from the crackle of his boom box radio into the unwelcome lap of the neighborhood he loved. Eventually, McLeer and his brother pushed things a step further and created the pioneering rap/punk-rock group Lordz of Brooklyn. Fueled by the same incessant need to create and influence that brought him to the tunnel of a train track, McLeer brought hip-hop culture into a prominently Italian-Irish Southwest Brooklyn. In the years to come, the group would gain critical acclaim and respect from the neighborhood and from the world. From Bay Ridge to Japan, Kaves left his mark in paint and lyric, going against the grain without pause.
Fifteen years ago, McLeer began to veer his prodigal career as a graffiti artist, fine artist and musician into the realm of tattooing. It didn't take long before Kaves was transferring artworks on canvas and concrete into artworks on skin in the heart of Brooklyn's Bay Ridge. The rest is history.
After owning and operating a number of growing tattoo parlors in his home neighborhood, Kaves finally planted the flag in the ground of 312 93rd Street- creating Brooklyn Made Tattoo, which would become his final and most beloved shop. Since 2008, Brooklyn Made has become more than a tattoo shop. Proudly tucked around the corner of Bay Ridge's bustling 3rd Ave, BMT has become a local staple and a hub for artists, creatives, friends, neighbors, comedians, eccentrics and celebrities alike.
The wide-windowed storefront retains the old charm of the social club it once housed. The jukebox remains, still spinning its Sinatras and its Stylistics. The old glimmering barborshops stand, awaiting tattoo clients and visitors. The years have gone by and many of the things that make the shop a home haven't changed. A neighbor from the block stops in and chats about the ridiculous breaking news. Familiar faces drop in to shoot the shit. The artists lean over their sketches and tattoo requests. Jokes will be cracked. Music will be played. Ink will be poured.
There's no knowing who will step through the squeaking doorway of Brooklyn Made Tattoo. But in a place grounded in roots of creativity and history, all are welcome to come in and experience it for themselves.