Photo: Ryon Horne
Photo: Ryon Horne

City of Ink owner Miya Bailey tells why Atlanta’s inked in his heart forever

His famed City of Ink tattoo shop has two locations -- one in Castleberry Hill and one in Edgewood

Love perusing through social media to find out what your favorite influencers are up to? Get a closer glimpse into how they spend their time in Atlanta with “ATL Closeup,” a new AJC feature that explores the leisure lives of some of the city’s most notable personalities as they go from work to play mode over the course of a typical weekend —from their favorite places to dine to the little-known spots where they find retreat.

If you take a tour of southwest Atlanta, you’ll spot at least three buildings co-owned by visual artist and tattoo mastermind Miya Bailey.

Since moving to the city from Asheville, North Carolina, in the 1990s, he has opened Notch8 art gallery and his venerable tattoo shop City of Ink, where stars like Big K.R.I.T., Kelly Price and K. Michelle have all been inked up. Later this year, the creative entrepreneur will open up  Peters Street Station, a community center in Castleberry Hill neighborhood.

The community center is just one way Bailey exemplifies his passion for cultivating underdeveloped neighborhoods and art districts in the city—something he said didn’t exist several years ago.

“When we first got here, there wasn’t an art scene. We had to put the footwork in and lay the foundation,” he said. “We had to find artists and make really cool bonds so we could figure out what the landscape would like for artists here. ”

Through his efforts, he’s painted dozens of masterpieces, hosted countless art shows, tattooed hundreds of locals and employed tons of up-and-coming artists. 

He’s created his own lane and wants to help others do the same. He uses his artistic platform to give back and to uplift the black community. His shop, which has locations in Edgewood and Castleberry Hill, has become known as the premier tattoo shop for African American customers, since Bailey and his staff are experts at tattooing with the right combinations of colors for melanin. 

“I’m giving back to the people,” Bailey, 44, said. “I don’t think I’ll tattoo and paint for the rest of my life, but I still want to be a part of the culture here in some way ... Atlanta is special. I knew it was where I would want to be for the rest of my life.” 

Although the Adair Park resident is always on the go, he still carves out time to hit up some of his favorite places. Here’s where you’ll likely find him on any given weekend.

» RELATED: Cozy Beltline bungalow serves as centerpiece for community, conversation

Finger-licking good meal

Bailey doesn’t have to travel far to find a delicious meal when he’s working. When hunger strikes, he walks over to Escobar Restaurant & Tapas, which is located a few buildings down from his City of Ink tattoo shop in Castleberry Hill.

He watched owners Tauheed “2 Chainz” Epps and Mychel “Snoop” Dillard build the space from the ground up.

“I saw what 2 Chainz and Snoop had to go through. I like to see that, because it’s very inspiring,” he said. “And the product is good. You know you’re going to have a good meal from Escobar.”

During his last visit, he ordered macaroni and cheese spring rolls, the collard green spring rolls, a kale salad, and fried okra, which is new to the menu. 

His top dining pick:

Escobar Restaurant & Tapas, 327 Peters St SW, Atlanta. 404-941-7907, escobaratlanta.com.

Shop-til-you-drop spot

The husband and father of five collaborates with artists of all kind. He’s friends with a couple of fashion designers, so he gets hooked up with free apparel often. 

“Most of the time, they just drop us some stuff off,” he admitted. “We don’t really do a lot of shopping, because most of the time, they just throw us stuff to wear.”

Much of his clothing, comes from Closette, a clothing store that’s also in walking distance of his Castleberry Hill tattoo shop. And Adidas is one of his favorite brands. 

“Those places fit my style. I’m a mountain boy, so I like boots. I like to look rough. When it’s time to do business, I like hats and leather jackets,” he said. “I try to do clothes that express who I am and that I can work in. If I spill paint on it, it just adds to the character.”

His top shopping picks:

Closette, 323 Walker St., Atlanta. instagram.com/closette323.   

Adidas, 3393 Peachtree St. NE, Atlanta. 404-842-1100, simon.com/mall/lenox-square/stores/adidas.  

Social Hour

Bailey knows how to create his own fun. 

Peters Street Station is a prime example.  Though it’s not yet open to the public, you can catch him every Sunday throwing his own “Games of Thrones” watch party there.

His friends host tons of events at their places of business, too. There are art and entertainment gatherings held at Closette and OPE Gallery in Old Fourth Ward almost weekly.

“We create our own thing,” he said. “I really don’t have to do too much to be social, because we always got events going on. We create our own environment.”

But if he needs a good drink or some live music, he hits up Apache Cafe near Oakland City. 

“They got good food, they got the patio area and they have a good little vibe,” he said.

His top party spot pick:

Peters Street Station, 333 Peters St. SW, Atlanta. facebook.com/333petersstreetstation

Closette, 323 Walker St., Atlanta. instagram.com/closette323.   

OPE Gallery, 11 William Holmes Border Drive, Atlanta. instagram.com/opegallery

Apache Cafe, 880 Woodrow St. SW, Atlanta. 404-594-1170, apachecafe.info.

The wind down

While Atlanta isn’t as mountainous as Asheville, Bailey still likes to experience nature. There are several walking and hiking trails throughout the metro area, like his go-to Cascade Springs Nature Preserve. 

“They got the trail down there and the waterfall,” he described. “I go down there, find a little spot and just relax. When I need a bit of nature in the city, that’s where I go.”

He gets to enjoy the outdoors near home, too, because his southwest Atlanta neighborhood has a couple of parks, including Adair Park I and Adair Park II.

“I can take my kids out there. I can take my dog, Rabbit, out there to run around. It’s just fly,” he said.

His top relax destinations:

Cascade Springs Nature Preserve, 2852 Cascade Rd SW, Atlanta. 404-546-6744, atlantaga.gov/government/departments/parks-recreation.

Adair Park I, 742 Catherine St SW, Atlanta. 404-546-6744, adairpark.com.

Adair Park II, 866 Murphy Ave. SW, Atlanta. 404-546-6744, adairpark.com.

Hidden gem

Bailey is a book lover. He enjoys physically flipping through the pages of magazines and comics. 

“It’s not really under the radar, but we need to keep bookstores like Barnes & Noble alive,” he said. “Certain businesses we need to keep around.”

But one bookstore you may be less familiar with is Oxford Comics & Games near Lindbergh. You can check out new and vintage comics, graphic novels, collectibles and games and toys.

“That’s my favorite,” he gushed. “They don’t have just comics. They have a whole art book section. It’s very amazing. They got one of the best art book sections in Atlanta.”

If you go:

Oxford Comics & Games, 2855 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta. 404-233-8682, facebook.com/oxfordcomicsandgames.

» RELATED: Where to get your geek on in Atlanta

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

X