Arte Libre Gallery (211 Franklin St.) is an unexpected combination of an art gallery and a tattoo parlor. The charismatic owner, Angelo Bertakis, has so much in store for his small storefront. “We are an art gallery that focuses on building the skills of young tattoo artists as well as offering amazing work from our resident artists,” Bertakis said. The marriage of body art and traditional wall art and sculpture is the focus of Bertakis’ vision for Arte Libre. It is a unique concept that works well.

The combination of a tattoo parlor and art gallery makes perfect sense to Bertakis, who sees tattoo work as art that people can show off every day when walking around. He called the body a “moving canvas” and said tattoos allow individuals to “display artwork on the body and whenever they go.”

The interior of Arte Libre, including an artist’s chair for tattoo work and a horse sculpture on the gallery floor.

Arte Libre Gallery opened quietly last month in Greenpoint. It is Bertakis’ first time owning a venue like this. He has been in the tattoo business for over ten years, but decided it was time to venture out on his own. 

Currently, the walls of Arte Libre hold several framed photos of tattoos done by the resident artists. Bertakis envisions the traditional frames being replaced by digital frames to display virtual portfolios. In the frames, visitors will see beautiful detailed works, highlighting  Arte Libre’s specialities in realism, fine line work, and neo-traditonal tattoos. There is one large projection screen in the gallery displaying the first tattoo that Bertakis created in the Franklin Street location.

The projection screen featuring Bertakis’ first tattoo at Arte Libre.

Arte Libre is open to all, not only clients getting tattoos. Greenpoint residents and visitors can enjoy the art displays throughout the store anytime. Bertakis has been searching nonstop for more artwork to add to the store’s collection. He said he has ideas in his head for what he wants to add, however has not yet found the right pieces. “Sometimes you have to create the art yourself,” mused Bertakis. 

The exterior of Arte Libre showing small sculptures on display.

Bertakis envisions a Grand Opening in the new year when more artwork has been added to Arte Libre’s collection. In the meantime, be on the lookout for a special event for Greenpointers. Bertakis visualizes an event where Greenpoint residents in the 11222 zip code will be treated to a free tattoo as a special thank you for welcoming Arte Libre to the neighborhood. 

Arte Libre will soon offer piercings and host other events. A website is also in the works. Right now, appointments are available on Instagram. Arte Libre Gallery is open 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. everyday.

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