Wild ink: Animal House Tattoo Co. preps to open

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Ian Rutledge is eager to be done with construction, painting and cleaning, and get to putting some ink on human flesh.

He worked on a tattoo machine setup in his room at Animal House Tattoo Co. in Brookhaven as the owner — who only identifies himself as “Pig,” though his name on social media is Michael Scott — pointed out things that they still have to accomplish before they can open for business.

“But it’s come a long way from what it was when we got it,” he said. They took 45 trailer loads of trash to the dump, he said, and gave away a lot of the contents of the building and storage shed in the back.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

The shop on Union Street is in the old Hickman Furniture building at the intersection with Ingram Street.

“We looked for at least three years to find a place,” Pig said. The rent on some places was too high, others were wary of housing a tattoo business, and others just weren’t the right space.

“The space is tight, but it’s not my tightest shop,” said Pig. “I have a shop in Starkville that has two artists and a piercer. Here we’ll have three artists and a piercer.”

A veteran of the U.S. Navy, Pig owns 15 tattoo shops and a few other businesses, including a t-shirt printing company, a vinyl sign company and a dirt business. He serves on the boards of seven states for health regulations of shops like the one he’s opening in Brookhaven.

Rutledge, another Navy veteran, was the first artist Pig hired when he brought his inking enterprise to Mississippi, working at a shop by the same name in Pearl. The tall, bewhiskered first-generation American with the porcine nickname hails from New York, California and few other places in between. His parents and grandparents were all born in Italy.

Living in Brooklyn, he was friends with the children of body piercing pioneer Jim Ward, credited with starting that industry in the United States. He lived in the attic for a time above tattoo legend Norman Keith “Sailor Jerry” Collins’ California shop, where he also worked.

Pig got his start in the business around age 11, and brings his nearly five decades of experience to his shops today. Rutledge adds his more than 30 years of tattooing and piercing experience to the mix.

The plan for the 18-year-old-plus cash only business is to be open seven days a week, from noon until late. A grand opening party is in the planning stage.

“We wanted to be open three months ago, but things happen,” Pig said. “We’re two weeks ’til open, I’m hoping.”