From the outside, The Quill doesn’t look like much. Unassuming, it sits sandwiched in a small strip of stores off Woodland Ave in East Nashville. It’s a small tattoo shop. And inside is Russ Hickman. Only Russ Hickman. That’s because he’s starting from scratch, taking his experience and knowledge accumulated from other tattoo shops to create his own. He’s the only guy in the shop now, but wouldn’t say he’s alone. He’s had a lot of support to get The Quill to where it is now.
Walk through the door and you’ll immediately notice something about The Quill that other tattoo shops don’t have: it’s personal. Old lamps, local art, and a lot of skulls. On the front desk there’s a picture of the gutted space before it was transformed. The change is dramatic in all the best ways possible. It’s an inviting space that you feel comfortable in.
When it comes to making The Quill personal, it’s Russ and his energy that makes the experience inviting and comfortable. Whether you’re getting a tattoo or just stopping by to say hello, Russ treats every encounter with a certain level of sacredness. As he said: it can get intimate. Walk into Russ’ shop. It feels less like getting a tattoo, and more like going to see and old friend. It feels familiar, like going home for the holidays.
Spoiler alert: it’s not your grandma inside of The Quill. Pretty close though. Russ has a personality that’s warm and inviting. He’s an understanding soul that knows how to keep you in your comfort zone–especially right before he starts sticking needles in you. With Russ you’re always welcome; the door is always open–appointment or not.
Nashville is a collection of these intimate encounters with people. With Russ, inside his small shop in East Nashville, you almost forget that there’s a bigger world out there. You just want to be there and enjoy the moment. His sense of genuine kindness is the mark of a true Nashvillian: sparing of time, friendly, and always ready to try something new.