Rotterdam’s controversial Tattoo Learning Center has been bought by an Albany-based salon school, which will continue the mission of training aspiring skin ink artists.
Austin’s School of Spa Technology in Albany purchased the center from owner Lisa Fasulo earlier this month for an undisclosed sum. The center will close up shop on Curry Road and relocate to Austin’s facility in downtown Albany over the next month.
Austin’s will offer a total of four training programs ranging from tattoo fundamentals to an intermediate tattoo seminar. Each will start new enrollment at least once a month.
“We have been striving to maintain a trendy, forward-thinking repertoire of programs over the past year and the addition of tattoo artistry is no different,” said Danielle Cullen, Austin’s executive director. “The tattoo industry has evolved so much over the past decade and we are looking forward to educating future professionals in this popular trade.”
For Fasulo, moving the center she’s operated since 2003 will be a bit of a homecoming. The Albany native will continue to teach her trade at Austin’s School once the move is complete this spring.
“It’s a great move for my school,” she said. “It’s a great synergy that we can use to take it to bigger places.”
Austin’s acquisition of Fasulo’s curriculum will make it the only career institute in the nation to offer a tattoo artistry program. The new tattoo program will be the sixth program offered at Austin, which has programs for cosmetology, barbering, esthetics, nail technology and makeup art.
“My goal has always been to make Austin’s School of Spa Technology more than just a cosmetology school, and expand it into a true full service spa and salon school,” said Faith Takes, president of Empire Education Corporation, which oversees Austin’s and its sister school, Mildred Elley.
The learning center remains the only state Department of Education-licensed tattoo training facility in New York and one of only a handful of schools in the country. It’s rare enough that it regularly draws students from around the nation and beyond.
Fasulo’s program offers a two-week training period that bucks the trend of long apprenticeships under an established professional in the tattoo artistry field.
The learning center gives its students a day of training before giving them a chance to apply what they’ve learned inking permanent tattoos on real people, who pay greatly discounted prices for the amateur work.
The program has drawn students from around the world with enough popularity that Fasulo now operates separate programs in Florida and Washington. Her school was featured on a TLC documentary that aired nationally in July 2011.
But not all the attention garnered by the learning center has been positive. The program is reviled by a vocal contingent of tattoo artists who argue it’s irresponsible to allow neophytes to ink tattoos with so little training.
The documentary helped to spur this negative sentiment to a point where Fasulo started getting threats. Within a week of the program airing, both Rotterdam police and federal authorities were probing some of the vitriolic messages directed at the learning center.
The furor was short-lived, she said, and today her program operates without attracting any of the anger that it faced two years ago.