TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Former WWE Superstar, Marvel star, actor and Tampa resident Dave Bautista will be celebrating the grand opening of his tattoo shop, co-owned with tattoo artist John Kural, this weekend.

DC Society Ink is located at 1108 West Kennedy Boulevard near the University of Tampa. Bautista and the crew of artists, including fellow owner John Kural, will be celebrating the grand opening on Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at the shop.

It’s been a long time in the making. Bautista and Kural have been discussing plans to open a shop for years. The duo have known each other since 2006 and Bautista said they started talking about opening a shop together shortly after meeting. They started seriously talking about it about two or three years ago.

Bautista initially had a different vision for the space.

“Obviously, I love tattoos… But I also, my original vision was I wanted to open a tattoo shop – half tattoo shop, half barbershop. The guy I wanted to open the barbershop with, he actually opened up a shop about two years ago, so it kind of ruled that out. So we just focused more on a tattoo shop,” said Bautista. “But originally, that was my vision, because I love tattoos and I grew up in a barber chair. My grandfather was a barber, my uncles were barbers and I have barber chairs all over my house. Just very fond memories of being in a barber shop.” 

Bautista and Kural are leasing the building on West Kennedy Boulevard, formerly a kickboxing gym, and hope to some day buy it from the owner. They have worked hard to make sure it’s a comfortable environment for the tattoo artists and clients.

“It’s an environment thing for me… Because I want it to be kind of a social club, a society. It’s a personal thing for me. So that’s kind of the environment I want. It’s relaxing to me. It’s a place I’m comfortable in. I want to have a place like this to go when I’m home, because I don’t go out and I don’t socialize much,” Bautista explained. “I kind of build a little fortress for myself and that’s my compound and I stay there and I go to the gym and I don’t frequent too many places but I needed that type of environment because I want to be social.” 

DC Society Ink is a name based off Bautista’s home town of Washington DC and his moniker “dream chaser.” He said he’s lived by the motto of chasing his dreams and he’s very proud of it. He added that the artists in the shop are all dream chasers as well.

Bautista, Kural, four full-time artists and one part-time artist at DC Society Ink are committed to their art. Bautista said they aren’t going to slap any random design on a client.

“We really just want to put out really beautiful artwork. We want people to be happy and we want to help people tell their stories. That’s the bottom line. That’s our motto here is we want to help people tell their stories. That’s something that’s personal to me, it’s personal to John,” he explained. 

The shop began accepting clients for tattoos in January but Bautista, Kural and their crew weren’t able to celebrate until now, due to Bautista’s busy filming schedule.

He said he didn’t want people to think he only just lent his name to the shop.

“I just wasn’t home and I wanted to be hands-on. I wanted to be a part of it. So I have been filming for pretty much the last two years straight. So this is kind of my break and this is kind of my time when I could be a part of it and be a part of the grand opening,” he said. “Because I want people to come in and meet me as well. I mean this is my place, this is John’s place.” 

The grand opening on Sunday is not just meant for the public to enjoy but the entire staff of DC Society Ink as well.

“We’re just going to have fun. We just want to meet people. We want people to look at our business, look to come, enjoy, know it’s really open for everybody, so everyone can enjoy it. Our grand opening… everybody’s welcome,” Kural said.

Kural said there are going to be giveaways, food and drinks.

“And [we] just expect everybody to come and have a good time with us and enjoy our opening. Because this is actually for us, to show the world what we can do,” he said.

Bautista wants the Tampa Bay area to see that DC Society Ink is a comfortable place with good vibes.

“I think a lot of people, they shy away from tattoos. They may want tattoos, but they shy away from them because a lot of shops are pretty intimidating and I think people don’t want to walk in to an atmosphere where they’re intimidated or they feel uncomfortable,” Bautista said. “So I really want them to see that our atmosphere is, it’s just completely comfortable and it’s welcoming.” 

He’s proud DC Society Ink is in the heart of Tampa, because he’s proud of his community.

“We’ve dug in roots here. I’ve been here since 2005. And now I own properties and now a business and I just feel like I’m digging more in and I’m invested,” he said.

Bautista is helping his fellow “dream chasers” with a platform to do what they love, creating lasting artwork, for a paycheck.

“I thought a few things in life were the best feelings in the world, but I’ve learned that helping someone make a living is the best feeling in the world. Like nothing makes me feel better than helping someone else achieve their dreams,” he said.

“Yes. And that’s one of the things he did for me as well. And we put a lot of thought in to the place. Like a lot. Everything here was thought about before it even was done,” said Kural.

Appointments can be scheduled a maximum of three months in advance and require a $300 deposit that is non-refundable and non-transferable. The deposit is applied to the final price of a tattoo.

“But, you know, we’re always willing to be flexible, especially if someone comes in with… just a very significant story to them that they want to tell. We’re human beings and we want to help people tell those stories,” said Bautista.

Appointments with the shop’s eight artists can be booked by calling 386-256-2076 or emailing dcsocietyink@yahoo.com. Those looking to get a tattoo are asked to provide reference photos with as much description about the desired design as possible.