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Arts and Entertainment

Downtown Tattoo Studio Blends Different Art Forms

Tucked in a corner store in downtown Springfield, a faint buzz can be heard as a man brings a tattoo needle down gently to a client's arm.

When looking at Bird’s Eye Tattoo and Art Gallery from the street, it looks like most other downtown tattoo studios. And when you step in the doors, you hear the same music you’d hear in most other tattoo studios. Storefront windows let light into the otherwise dark and moody shop.  

Credit Bailey E Vassalli / KSMU
Michael and Christy Pfau sit in the lobby of their shop. Bird's Eye Tattoo and Art Gallery features art from different artists monthly.

But, when you look to the right, you see a wall adorned with various artwork. The artwork changes every month in preparation for the First Friday Artwalk.  

Owner Michael Pfau and his wife, Christy, wanted Bird’s Eye to be different than the average tattoo shop. They wanted it to have more of a focus on art — in all of its forms. 

“It’s not a tattoo studio that looks like any other tattoo studio,” Michael Pfau said. 

Part of that can be attributed to the ever-changing art featured in their gallery.  

The rest of it can be attributed to the work the Pfau’s put in over a two-month span to completely transform the space from a run-down bar to the tattoo studio and art gallery that sits on the corner of West McDaniel Street and South Patton Avenue today. 

Three artists work from the shop — owner Michael Pfau, as well as southern-Missouri natives Josh Dearing and Brian Biggers. Together, they bring 50 years of experience to Bird’s Eye. 

Each artist brought clientele with them. 

“We like to tattoo cool people and do cool tattoos on them,” Michael Pfau said. 

Credit Bailey Vassalli / KSMU
Michael Pfau begins to tattoo someone's arm after the stencil had dried.

The way each artist got his start differs.  

Pfau began tattooing on the streets of Illinois at a young age.  

As a child, he’d get in trouble for giving other kids sharpie marker tattoos in exchange for their lunch money. By 15, he had his first tattoo done by his friend, Clark Medley. 

Today, Medley’s artwork is featured on the walls of Pfau’s shop here in Springfield. 

A common attribute among those in the shop is a passion for art. Art is everything to Michael Pfau. His passion for tattooing as an art form was always there, even when he spent five years in the Air Force. 

Of course, he said there were times he had to take breaks from it. But, he always found his way back. He’s worked in a number of different shops, and he has owned several of his own before. 

Most recently, Pfau was an artist at Kaleidoscope Ink. He said his three and a half years at Kaleidoscope were great, but he always had a “Plan B” in the back of his mind. 

“I’m business minded, so I always have a backup plan brewing,” Michael Pfau said. 

Despite that, the Pfau’s said they hope Bird’s Eye Tattoo and Art Gallery is around for a long while.  

“We don’t plan on going anywhere, anytime soon,” Michael Pfau said. 

Bird’s Eye Tattoo and Art Gallery officially opened their doors on March 20th, and Pfau said business has been pretty steady ever since.