Tattoo studio proposed for Fort Hill Drive wins OK from Naperville planners

Eris Qesari has been a tattoo artist for almost 14 years. For the last 10, he’s worked from his Venture Tattoo Studio in Oak Park.

But now he wants to come home.

Qesari, who lives in Naperville with his wife and their three young children, is looking to open a second Venture Tattoo location at 424 Fort Hill Drive in Naperville.

Body art establishments are allowed in Naperville’s general business district under a conditional use permit, which Quesari requested when presenting his plan to the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday night. The proposal is for an “upscale, impeccably clean tattoo studio intended for private clients by appointment only,” according to city documents.

Adam Beaver, a community planner with Naperville’s Transportation, Engineering and Development department, said “this current application is the (city’s) first request for a body art establishment as a primary use that we are aware of.”

Naperville planners unanimously endorsed the Quesari’s conditional use request, sending the matter to the Naperville City Council for final approval at a later date.

“I have some body art myself,” Commissioner Derek McDaniel said Wednesday. “Really, I think it is a fantastic idea.”

Qesari is a self-taught artist. He described his specialty as “black and gray realistic” in a call Thursday.

“It’s more based on real pictures,” he said. “I do a lot of portraits, stuff like that. More realistic pictures.”

Years ago, when he was seeking a location for his first tattoo studio, Qesari looked at Naperville but city code at the time didn’t allow for it, he said.

It wasn’t until 2019 that the city council voted to change the code and allow people other than medical professionals to perform tattooing and microblading. The provisions dated back to 1999 and allowed tattooing to be done only by or under the supervision of a physician or osteopath.

So, Qesari went to Oak Park, where Venture Tattoo Studio has been located for the past decade. The studio offers custom tattoos by appointment as well as walk-ins when there is available time, according to its website. Apart from Qesari, the studio has four other artists.

Qesari’s business in Naperville would be in a more private, quiet location, he said.

He started exploring the possibility of opening a second studio because he wanted to be able to move away from a walk-in setting and work with clients more privately. Over the years, he said, his clientele have grown to include those who would rather stay out of the public eye.

Erin Gallagher, a business consultant representing Qesari in the venture, noted that, “Venture Tattoo Studio has a reputation for a luxury and spa-like experience for (clients that include) firefighters, police officers, veteran heroes, professional athletes and others who want the very best in their body art.”

The other factor for Qesari is that his kids — who are 9, 6 and 3 years-old — are growing and his wife needs more help from him, he said.

“It takes me two hours each day to go back and forth from Oak Park to Naperville,” he said.

“For me,” he said, “this was the next step to be close to family and elevate my work even more.”

Qesari has closed on the purchase of the Fort Hill Drive property for the studio, according to Gallagher.

Should the city council concur with planners’ positive recommendation, Qesari said he is hoping to open sometime in the summer, adding that “we aren’t in a rush.”

“When we have (it) ready, we’ll open,” he said.