Rising Tides and making waves
How two friends are making the body modification industry more inclusive
April 28, 2023
The way someone chooses to express themselves is unique from person to person – there’s art, fashion, music and body modification.
Piercings and tattoos have become increasingly popular over the years, and the industry’s culture has grown just the same, accepting people of all shapes, sizes, cultural backgrounds and identities.
In Corvallis, there are a handful of shops to pick from when choosing a new tattoo or semi-permanent jewelry piece, but one that stands out in terms of inclusivity is Rising Tides.
“As a gay (man), honestly I started to get a lot of queer clients when I worked at the shop down the street, and when we moved here, I was like, ‘Why don’t we make it like a safe, gay place to be and have fun here,’” said Leo, tattoo artist and co-owner of Rising Tides.
According to Sarvas, piercer and co-owner of Rising Tides, the shop was created to give people a safe space where they can feel accepted.
“We want people to come in here and be like ‘I want to be myself,’ you know what I mean? And we allow that,” she said.
Throughout their professional careers as queer people in the body modification industry, the pair were starting to feel the weight of prejudice held against members of LGBTQ+ community in the previous shops they worked in. This discrimination displayed itself in forms of microaggressions towards potential clients or staff members, but over time, turned significant enough to the point where Sarvas and Leo decided to take action.
“People that would come in weren’t being treated like people,” Sarvas said. “They were dollar signs.”
Sarvas and Leo decided that enough was enough and established their own shop at the beginning of the pandemic. After originally trying to open a shop in Monmouth, the two moved to their current 370-square-foot location in downtown Corvallis. Although COVID-19 was a huge inhibitor of many small businesses, they found a way to use this situation to their advantage.
“I didn’t want anything bigger because usually when you go to a piercing and tattoo shop, there’s so much going on and there’s so much space, you know, but the world doesn’t accommodate for big waiting rooms anymore because of COVID,” Sarvas said. “It’s really changed everything to make little spots like this way more successful.”
To accommodate for the size of the shop, Sarvas and Leo have both made their services appointment-only. Although it’s not the typical walk-in style people are used to when looking to get a piercing or tattoo, it allows for a much more personable experience for whoever’s getting work done.
Over these last few years, not only have Sarvas and Leo been able to establish themselves as small business owners in the face of adversity, they have also created a fun and safe spot for people to feel comfortable while receiving a not-so-comfortable service.
If you’re interested in getting tattooed by Leo (he/him) or pierced by Sarvas (she/her) or her soon-to-be practicing apprentice Quinn (they/them), you can call Rising Tides at 541-719-8996 from Wednesday to Sunday between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.