Bladenboro home to tattoo shop and art studio

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal

BLADENBORO — It’s a brand new dawn, at least for those in Bladen County who love to be inked.

Last month saw the opening of Art Junkies in Bladenboro, a tattoo parlor and art studio operated by Elton Locklear and partner Judy Sessoms.

A Robeson County native, Locklear said he selected Bladenboro as the place to practice his art for an unusual reason — Hurricane Matthew.

“After the flooding, everybody was saying this couldn’t be done,” he explained, while swiping a paper towel greased with oil across the human canvas he was working on. “That just made me want to do it more.”

Having graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2009, Locklear spent time in Chicago and New York and “practically everywhere else” before returning to the area in 2013. He began a tattoo apprenticeship at a parlor in Lumberton before embarking on his own endeavor a few months ago.

Now open for a little more than a month, the downtown Bladenboro shop has a large open space at the front utilized by Sessoms for pilates and yoga classes.

The small room in the rear utilized for tattooing was crowded Friday evening. Cody Johnson, a South Carolina firefighter, was there for some new ink, as was at least one of the four friends who accompanied him and stood watching the process.

“It doesn’t hurt at all,” he said with a grin, about an hour into his bicep tattoo. His fourth “so far,” the art Locklear was laying on his arm was a black-and-white rendition of a firefighter helmet.

“I heard about the shop, and saw all the work he’s done, so I thought I’d give him a try,” said the single South Carolina resident, adding this was the longest tattoo he had sat for thus far.

When questioned about his own endurance, Locklear said he has done tattoos upwards of six or seven hours, but his favorites are those done on the wrist.

“The skin on the wrist is tight, so it doesn’t take a lot of stretching,” he explained.

Tattoos, however, are far from the only service offered at the shop. Both Locklear and Sessoms paint and draw original art pieces, and some of their work is on display in the shop. Private art lessons are offered, and the duo also does face painting, birthday art parties, gallery hosting, screen printing, custom airbrush work, murals, and piercings, as well as temporary tattoos and body paint. A certified instructor and black belt, Sessoms also offers tai chi, yoga, and pilates classes in the studio.

Samples of the duo’s work may be found on their Facebook page, Art Junkies Tattoo and Art Studio. The studio is located at 107 S. Main St. in Bladenboro. For additional information, contact Locklear or Sessoms at 910-888-9156.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal