Girl on the Grid: Char Hall of Side Show Studios (Part 1)

Char Hall of Side Show Studios invites us into her Show – Part 1

By Chantel Elder

I went a tad off the grid for this blog. But with distance came the discovery of one of Sacramento’s most amazing artists. Char Hall was suggested to me for a “Day in the Life” project, so naturally I was excited to meet anyone with a different walk of life than mine. After all, that is my favorite part of these little excursions.

Char Hall is an artist, through and through. One flip through her portfolio would convince anyone. She grew up in Hollywood Park, resides in Land Park and currently owns and operates Side Show Tattoo Studios, on Freeport Blvd with her partner. I met Char yesterday to check out her space, and chat about her job. It turned out that she and her crew were readying the studio for a Second Saturday art exhibit.

You can’t throw a stone without hitting a salon or a tattoo shop in Sacramento. To be set apart as an amazing tattoo studio is a difficult task in our little city, and Sideshow Studios does this immediately by creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere in their space. This was a surprise considering most tattoo shops have less-than-approachable-looking-people with cigarettes dangling from their mouths and loud music blaring in the background as greeters. Sideshow was the polar opposite.

Their shop is wedged between several businesses, one of which is a pet-grooming place. How cuddly and appropriate that is would become evident during my visit. I shook Char’s hand and immediately detected a comfortable shyness about my subject. During my visit I learned that everyone in the large studio has a fine art background, that the tattoo world is extremely male-dominated and that Char doesn’t just tattoo- she strives to turn the body into a piece of art reflecting each and every subject’s personality.

Char was recommended to me because of her ability to tattoo floral pieces so beautifully. While she can handle anything a client might request, her floral pieces look soft and detailed, capturing all the depth of real petals.  Before tattooing, Char worked at Home Depot in the garden department – who knew that her job there would prove to be a stepping-stone and provide education for some of her most celebrated pieces?

Her “office” is decorated with painting of all types, all the necessary sanitary stuff and a shelf full of toys. Char likes her toys and often clients will give them to her as thank you gifts. Char was interested in art at a young age and when I asked why tattooing, her answer was simple: a piece of regular old canvas can’t hug you or smile or truly reflect how happy they are with the end result. Although a bit shy during our immediate introduction, it became obvious that Char is a people person.

While Char talked about her style, approach, and background, people were creating art displays around the shop for their annual – and much anticipated – textile show for tomorrow’s Second Saturday. I was invited to attend this event and immediately accepted. Live models displaying corsets and historical costume pieces will be the main attraction and of course the tattoo artist will have work up as well.

Aside from being an artist, Char also helps and encourages other artists to celebrate their medium of choice, weather it be skin, canvas or cloth. She invited me into her show and I wanted to extend the invite to anyone curious about tattoos or if you just love art. Bring your mom, sister or friends. Drop by on Saturday and see for yourself how charming Char’s little Sideshow truly is. I didn’t want to post any of her work just yet, as I wanted to spark the curiosity of you all and encourage you to check out her studio, instead of doing the same old stroll down J Street tomorrow. I will be there checking out the amazing textiles and documenting Char finish up a piece that I will post next week.

Guest blogger Chantel Elder is a partner at Eleakis & Elder Photography (Land Park) with a background in photography & marketing.  Aside from loving all things photography, I also am a self proclaimed “dog lady.”  I love cheese of any kind (accompanied by wine), gardening (even though my fiance says my thumb is black), and I will try just about anything once.  I have a very serious distaste for Barry Manilow (how did he get famous anyway?!) and in my spare time I can be found blogging all of my photographic discoveries.  If you would like to follow my own weekly rants and raves, my blog can be found at

 In Case You Missed It – check out Chantel’s other pictorials…

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  1. Kara says

    Fantastic piece! I’m excited to see part two. Full disclosure: I have three of Char’s pieces of art on my skin and I’ve been proud to consider her a friend for 20 years.

  2. Misty says

    Love Char – she’s just the best. I recommend Side Show to anyone that asks 🙂

  3. ashley says

    a tattoo artist with no visible tattoos? sorry chantel but you should know better, i still luv you though;-)

  4. Chantel Elder says

    Hey Ashley – She has a gorgeous flower on her wrist and a few others- she just isn’t riddled with them and I guess I didn’t get any angles where her own artwork showed…maybe in the second article – either way she rocks!

  5. Judy says

    I have been looking for a tattoo artist to do a flower fro me. I will give Char a call! Thank you for the tip!

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