With the over-abundance of tattoo shops flooding American towns, you would be surprised Middletown was not yet home to one until recently. Located at 275 Highway 35 in the Fairview section of Middletown (right next to Trezza's), Pogue Mahone Tattoo Company opened in 2012. Owner “Jersey” Jay Wymbs has been tattooing for twenty-three years. The team consists of himself, James O’Hanlon, Joseph Lagrua, Rev. Snake, and Holley Screen, who is apprenticing under Wymbs. They believe that a progressive philosophy based on continuous art education is the key to a satisfied relationship with clients. By attending seminars at conventions, they learn from other artists they admire. Wymbs says, “We want to roll with the public demand while not forgetting the roots that the road was paved with. You have to be able to continue to grow, but be a master of what you already know.”
Wymbs was attracted to tattoos since childhood, explaining that they were commonplace in his household. His Navy grandfather sported several, and his mother had friends with tattoos in the music and motorcycle world. He says, “I’m happy to fall into a generation where tattooing went through a rebirth from an underground thing to being very mainstream.” While initial inspiration came from horror movies and macabre art, Wymbs took classes to refine his skills as his appreciation for fine arts grew. He is particularly fond of Renaissance artist Michelangelo.
When speaking of his apprenticeship under Tony Cambria, Wymbs fondly says, “I’m very proud of my tattoo bloodline.” A historical tattoo artist, Cambria came to New Jersey when tattooing was declared illegal in New York in 1961. During his apprenticeship, Wymbs learned how to make needles, machines, tubes and ink. This in-depth knowledge of the artist’s tools is key to what sets Pogue Mahone’s approach apart. “If you can’t make it, you can’t judge if it’s built correctly, which gives us an advantage,” says Wymbs.
Wymbs specializes in cover-up tattoos, which he enjoys the challenge of. Additionally, he strongly believes being humble is a key to longevity. “It’s so important for us as artists to listen to what clients are asking for and not pat ourselves on the back.” All of the tattoos done at Pogue Mahone are custom-drawn custom for clients. The shop uses all disposable tools and is disinfected daily, making it the most sterile, clean environment its artists can provide.
Pogue Mahone takes prides in thinking about their clients as individuals and coming up with the best tattoo image by using creativity, education and experience. Client satisfaction is where all of the pleasure comes from. Wymbs says, “We like to encompass all styles of tattooing to the best of our abilities without judgment on the client’s choices. If I’ve spent a lifetime of making people happy, I feel I’m a success.”
*The original posting of this article noted the shop's Red Bank mailing address and has been updated.