To Top

Meet Patrick Cornolo of Speakeasy Custom Tattoo in Wicker Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Patrick Cornolo.

Patrick, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started tattooing in 1994 in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. Around 2000, I started tattooing out of the Flat Iron Building in Wicker Park with another artist, in a private studio, and worked this way for several years. In 2008, a larger, loftier space became available in the building and I decided to expand and have other artists work with me. When I started Speakeasy, it was just me and 2 other artists. Slowly, over the years, I have worked hard to hire not only amazing artists, but amazing people. Speakeasy works well because it is important that we all work well together artistically and personally and have a similar vision on how people should be treated.

I knew I wanted to have a beautiful, comfortable place for people to get tattooed and have a great experience, while getting a great piece of art. I wanted to build a shop of great artists and a shop where clients could feel relaxed and comfortable. Custom, appointment only tattooing was not as prevalent then, as now. Speakeasy is a custom tattoo shop that is located on the second floor of a fine arts building, you have to buzz to get in and then walk up a flight of stairs so, we don’t get a lot of foot traffic and it’s a little more private than most tattoo shops. Being a custom shop, we don’t have flash or pre-drawn designs on the wall, and we operate by appointment only so you know that you will get the attention you deserve when you come in for your appointment.

We take great pride in having a beautiful, immaculately clean shop and making our clients feel warm and welcomed. Tattooing keeps evolving but we are dedicated to providing high quality custom tattooing in a clean, comfortable art-enriched space and will continue to do so for as long as we can.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I don’t think any road of the self-employed is smooth. If it is, you’re probably doing it wrong. The bumps are where you learn. Since I spent a good part of my career working in a private studio, I only had to worry about myself and my schedule. I didn’t really have to worry about promoting myself. I was as busy as I wanted to be or needed to be. Social media didn’t exist, let alone SEO, Yelp! and a myriad of other platforms that we’ve had to navigate, while adding other tattooers under our umbrella.

Luckily, when I decided to start the shop, my wife Kelly came on to help with all of the administrative end of things which includes websites, social media and accounting etc. There was a lot of learning to do and we still learn new things every year, but any obstacles we encounter pale in comparison to being your own boss and only make our business stronger.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Speakeasy Custom Tattoo – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
We are a custom tattoo shop. We specialize in custom, appointment only tattoos. We are most proud of the fact that we have built a business that is a place where people can come and have a comfortable, enjoyable art experience and leave with a beautiful piece of art that will be loved for a lifetime; and an experience that will be just as memorable. This experience and the customer service is what sets us apart from a lot of other tattoo shops.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
We are just trying to stay relevant in a continually expanding and changing industry. Nothing BIG planned right now.


  • Artists charge by the hour. Rates range from $150-$225/hr

Contact Info:

As Shot

As Shot

As Shot

As Shot

Image Credit:
Jason Kraynek

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Dadio

    May 24, 2017 at 12:47 am

    Great article……makes me proud to see you doing so well. Keep up the great work. Your work ethic sounds very familiar to me. Where could you have gotten it????? Love Dad

    • Patrick

      June 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm

      Thanks Dad!

  2. Barry

    June 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Nice to see you doing so well with the shop!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in