HARRISON – A whole lot of heart, a whole lot of skill – and a whole lot of puns. That’s what co-owner and co-founder Michael “Montana” Araya-Baker brings to the table with his company, Whole Piercing-Tattoo. Newer to the Harrison area, the business opened its doors in April of 2022.
Nearing his 24th year of continuous body piercing experience, Araya-Baker is well-seasoned in his craft. He is nicknamed “Montana” because he comes from Montana, but due to great passion for his livelihood, his experience stretches well beyond The Treasure State. Araya-Baker has sought out experience working and shadowing in top notch piercing studios across the country including Texas, Colorado, Idaho, California and Oregon prior to landing here in Michigan to open a company of his own. After speaking with him for even a few minutes, one can see the sheer joy and enthusiasm for his work shine through.
“Piercing, I just get,” he said. “Like the anatomy, and how the skin works and granular textures, vascularity – I get that stuff. Piercing just really got me. Like the whole idea behind it really fascinated me from a very, very early age.”
Tattoo artist Frank Price joined the team back in May and brings over three decades of experience to the team. With more than half a century of experience between the two, it is fair to say Harrison has gained quite the tattoo industry dream team.
Whole Piercing-Tattoo provides an immaculately clean facility that is bright and welcoming. Upon entering the building, patrons will find a wall of free, eclectic stickers including company logoed vinyls, along with an assortment of implant-grade titanium and other high-quality jewelry for piercing adornment.
“When you come to my studio, that’s always been something that’s really stuck with me,” Araya-Baker said. “I’m not just trying to like feed this like outlaw, punk rocky element of it, which exists for sure. I’m more about the experience. I want you to have a good experience. Whether you’re a 5-year-old getting your ears pierced for the first time, or you’re a 35-year-old and you’re just like I’ve always wanted my nose pierced.”
Between his easy-going demeanor, and an endless slew of puns the company name allows for, Araya-Baker has done well in creating an environment full of professionalism and laughs that feels safe and welcoming for all.
High quality experiences are of the utmost importance at Whole Piercing-Tattoo, and Araya-Baker has gone above and beyond to network with other piercing and tattoo shops across the state. Aside from making connections and growing his personal toolkit, he notes the importance of this endeavor by helping his clients beyond just their time with him in the chair.
“Like oh yeah, absolutely, you want to get a piercing the day you are going to leave and then go home,” he said. “Well. Cool. Where’s home? OK, so when you go home, talk to this shop, this person, and they’ll help you out.”
As the company has settled into the community after its first year in business, Whole Piercing-Tattoo is excited to continue to immerse itself even further yet. It has just recently donated to the Harrison Hornets robotics team as a sponsor.
Araya-Baker spoke about his enthusiasm for being able to help stating: “The fact that the high school here promotes that and can facilitate that, that is super cool. Because that is the stuff that develops as you get older into like the mechanics that help fix space shuttles, and engineering cars to run more efficiently, and I am like feed that seed early. And if I can donate to some stuff like that to help, I mean, 100%.”
He readily shares his excitement for continued growth and immersion here in Harrison and looks forward to joining the Harrison Chamber of Commerce later this year.
“We’re here for the community,” he said. “I didn’t build the shop just because I didn’t know what else to do. I built it because this is something I do know what to do and I do know how to do it as well as I can. And I wanted to offer this service to the community that I live in. We are homeowners here. We’re invested in our community.”
Whole Piercing-Tattoo plans to house a Halloween event for the second year in a row, offering customers discounted services and Halloween jewelry. Keep your eyes peeled for more details as the holiday approaches. Information will be announced via Facebook and Instagram @wholepiercingtattoo.
In the meantime, Araya-Baker reiterates: “We encourage people to visit, you don’t have to come in and buy stuff, just come in and see what we have, who we are, get a feel for our space, and we’ll happily show you everything.” And if you do decide to get a piercing or tattoo, Araya-Baker assures he will do his best to make sure it “does not hurt a whole lot.”
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