It's readily apparent that Benny DeWitt is a humble man. "I Lincoln'd it," he chuckles, referring to the fact that most of the people in the running for best tattoo artist work at the same place – New Age Tattoo and Piercings – splitting their votes and allowing him to rise to the top, much the same as our esteemed 16th president.
But also like Lincoln, no matter how he won, he is fit for the honor.
DeWitt grew up in a supportive environment; his mother a sign painter and tattoo artist. As an adult, he traveled the world, tattooing and learning as he went, finding out what styles he liked and what he didn't. Then he brought it all home and opened his own shop.
With no Main Street in Springfield, DeWitt set up on Monroe Street, in the heart of downtown, desiring a classy place in a classy area to showcase his talents.
"I see the efforts of everybody," says DeWitt, of the numerous unique and vibrant shops that have sprung up downtown in the last few years, and he is pleased to be in the midst of such creativity.
DeWitt apprenticed at New Age Tattoo for some time. Opening his own shop was not born of competition, but a desire to bring American traditional tattoo culture to Springfield.
"I wanted a place where I could share my vision of tattooing. I like to choose to work with people who are my friends. It's a huge motivation. I'm open to having different guest artists from all over coming to Springfield, which was not something happening before."
DeWitt opened his shop in 2019, with COVID making its way into our reality just a few months later. It was disheartening, but DeWitt dealt with the delay by creating and selling 120 paintings to pay the bills.
Now DeWitt has two tattoo artists renting space in his shop, Nick Demarco and Sam Myers. Though they tattoo in all styles, they specialize in the bold American traditional style, which DeWitt explains is characterized by "a bold black outline and full color. It's a little more simplified, so they age well."
The public is also invited to check out the art on the walls. Walk-ins are always welcome on Saturdays.