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Timothy Boor Recalls Unique Journey to Opening the Award-Winning Bohemian Tattoo Club

Photographer / Jim Hunt

Timothy Boor takes his art seriously. Very seriously.

As founder of Bohemian Tattoo Club in downtown Kokomo, Boor and his staff approach every tattoo job fully aware that what they’re doing will be part of their customers’ lives forever.

“With this type of art you can’t afford to mess up and paint over it or re-sculpt it,” Boor says. “That makes it pretty intense, but that can be exciting and exhilarating too. We all love it at the end of the day and always try to challenge ourselves in different ways.”

Born and raised in Kokomo, Boor says he discovered a passion and talent for visual art back when he was around 11 years old and began honing his craft whenever he could find the time. He also played in several bands growing up and would draw posters to promote his upcoming live shows.

“I’ve been drawing or painting in some way or another for as long as I can remember,” Boor says. “I started taking oil painting lessons at a Main Street Kokomo art gallery as a young guy. I found that art was something I could do and do pretty well.”

Boor’s journey into tattooing came somewhat by accident. Nearly 20 years ago, one of his musical bandmates had decided to open a tattoo shop with a mutual colleague who had taken notice of Boor’s art — particularly some of his band’s promo posters. Before long, that colleague had asked Boor if he wanted to be an apprentice at the shop. Boor was working at a Kokomo Chrysler factory at the time and was unsure if tattooing was a world he wanted to explore.

“Originally, I said no because I thought it looked really hard and also because at the time I thought everyone around Kokomo was terrible at it,” says Boor, a Northwestern High School grad. “I was never against tattooing, it just never crossed my mind. I wasn’t really exposed to it in any way earlier on in my life. But I started to look into it after that invitation and I noticed there were some artists around who were starting to break out and do really good realism and stuff like that. So I decided to give it a try.”

A six-month apprenticeship in 2000 followed, during which Boor learned the basics of tattooing and familiarized himself with the tools of the trade. Boor began officially tattooing during that six-month stretch, and unbeknownst to him at the time, his very first tattoo customer would actually be himself.

“I was excited and nervous when my mentor told me I’d finally be doing a tattoo, and I had no clue he’d be having me tattoo myself first,” Boor recalls with a chuckle. “My daughter had just been born, and I did my daughter’s initials on my ankle. I figured that would be an easy spot to cross my legs and work on.”

In 2007, Boor left Chrysler and worked in several tattoo shops around Kokomo, and eventually got hired at New York City-based Last Rites Tattoo Theatre — one of the most famous tattoo shops in the country according to Boor.

“Getting hired at Last Rites was a huge pick-up in my career and gave me a lot of motivation to improve and be the best I could be,” Boor says. “I learned a lot from the owner Paul Booth, and he’s done a lot of tattoos for some of the most famous heavy metal bands out there.”

Boor spent three years at Last Rites before deciding in 2011 to move back to his native Kokomo and attempt to open up his own shop. He contacted a few former co-employees from shops he’d worked in, including Bradley Pierce and Matthew Davidson, both of whom still work at Bohemian.

“I always respected those guys, and they’re both different than a lot of tattooers — they don’t have egos, they take their art seriously and they treat clients well,” Boor says. “They joined and helped make the shop successful from the get-go.”

Bohemian officially opened in 2013, and Boor has added three more tattoo artists and a piercer as his business has grown. He and his staff have welcomed customers from as far away as Alaska, New York, Panama and Australia and, inside the shop, Boor and his employees strive to make each client feel as comfortable as possible. There are private rooms with flat-screen TVs, complimentary beverages for customers and customizable music for guests.

Boor and his staff regularly attend seminars and attend conventions to stay up on their craft and tuned in to the state of the industry, and Boor says each Bohemian employee takes their job as serious as possible.

“It can be a little stressful because you can’t have a bad day,” he says. “That keeps you motivated. I think this is the most intense type of art anyone could try to do because it has to be perfect and it’s permanent. But you get to be creative every day and meet a lot of people. I don’t work with headphones like a lot of other people, and I like shooting the breeze and getting to know people from all walks of life.”

Bohemian Tattoo Club is located at 206 North Main Street in Kokomo. Call 765-434-0066 or explore bohemiantattooclub.com for more information.

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