Is it art or just scratching? Living Canvas aims to set a higher standard for the tattoo industry

FOUR CORNERS – Malcolm Arnott can remember the seemingly epic struggle he faced when he first wanted to open a tattoo shop more than a year ago. The search for a good location in one of Central Florida’s numerous shopping plazas wasn’t easy – and that wasn’t because there was no office space to rent.

Malcolm Arnott has been operating Living Canvas Art Company Custom Tattoos for the past 15 months.

The problem was, Arnott found a lot of doors closed to him when he told them what kind of shop he wanted to operate.

A tattoo shop, it seemed, was almost taboo to some landlords.

“We went to eight malls and every one refused us,” Arnott said.

Cut to 15 months later. Anott and his son James have been operating Living Canvas Art Company Custom Tattoos for that period of time, and found a receptive local business environment and a healthy stream of customers in their chosen location.

Malcolm Arnott says it took a while to find a location for his tattoo shop, but he likes being in Four Corners now.

“We came to the landlord here and said ‘This is what we want to do,’ “ Malcolm Arnott said, and this time around, they get approved.  Their shop is at 9310 U.S. 192, Suite 8, in Four Corners, the section of Central Florida just south of Walt Disney World and Celebration where the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk meet at U.S. 192 and U.S. 27. Arnott said the decision to open up in Four Corners proved to be a smart one.

“We didn’t want to be touristy, but we obviously knew tourists would be a part of our business,” he said.

With so much traffic along U.S. 192 – and so many international visitors, U.S. tourists and snowbirds flocking to Four Corners — the Arnotts don’t even bother advertising anymore. They get plenty of walk-ins without it.

“We’re now getting people coming in to say ‘We were going to drive down to Miami, but decided to check you out,’ “ Malcolm Arnott said.  “We do absolutely no advertising at all, but tourists will come in and talk. Yesterday we got seven bookings.”

“It’s different every day,” James Arnott said.  “We get clients from every single continent.  We’ve done it to people from the Philippines to China.  We get a lot of what we’re calling ‘Popping their Cherries’ – their first tattoo.  We got one women in here for her first tattoo, and she was 84.”

Their success in finding both a home and a client base, Malcolm said, demonstrates the fact that the tattoo industry is evolving, and that having a tattoo is far more universally accepted today than it was not so long ago.

“There are just under 50 million people with tattoos,” Malcolm said.   “There are 13,000 McDonald’s in the United States, and 22,000 tattoo shops. Old tattoo shops are dying out, and new ones are coming in.”

Malcolm said he understands that the tattoo industry has had an image problem.  He said Living Canvas is unique for two reasons.  First, the people who do the tattoo are all, he insists, true artists.

“The artists are actually just that – artists,” he said.  “They’re not flash jockeys. That means you’re a scratcher.”

A scratcher, he said, simply takes a drawn image and retraces it on a client. Malcolm said his artists actually do original work.

Living Canvas Art Company Custom Tattoos is on U.S. 192 in Four Corners.

“Somebody might come to the scratchers with a piece of work and they will trace it.  The scratchers are not artists, they can’t draw,” he said.  “If you put alcohol on it, it will come right off. Eighty percent of our work is custom work.”

Living Canvas is unique for another reason: all three of the tattoo artists are women, in an industry more traditionally dominated by men.

“Most people who will approach a tattoo shop, you have a rougher element hanging around, and all the tattoo artists were men,” Malcolm said.  “It’s changing a little bit, especially if the shop looks inviting, and you don’t have heavily tattooed, pierced, mohawked types hanging around.”

Living Canvas tries to create a more inviting, even family oriented, environment. They have a television set and play area for young kids who are waiting while their parents get a tattoo. Anyone interested in a tattoo has to be at least 16 years old to get one.

Another thing that’s changed, he said, is that there’s no longer a particular type of person looking for a tattoo. Entire families have come into their shop looking for one.

“Fifty percent now go for, shall we say, a reason,” Malcolm said. “In other words, a mother, father, loved one who died and was important in their life.  We had a mother and son come in. He was 16 years old and he just said ‘I want a tough-looking tattoo.’  The mother wanted three tattoos of three butterflies all named after her sons. Fifty percent of the people are having it done for special reasons.”

“It’s the artist more than anything that dictates the shop,” James added.  “If you’ve got good artists, people will come.”

To learn more about Living Canvas, call 321-284-4113 or 407-452-9902 or log on to

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Intimate setting or a wild party: take your pick at the Funky Monkey Wine Bar on New Year’s Eve.

ORLANDO – It’s a quiet environment, with dim lighting that creates the ideal spot for a romantic dinner between two that ends with a champagne toast at midnight ….

No, it’s a wild night, with flashy production numbers, music and dacning — almost like something out of Vegas …

Since the Funky Monkey Wine Company has two separate locations, and both of them are celebrating New Year’s Eve, you get your choice on the big night.  Do you want serene and romantic … or some lively entertainment with your meal?  Decisions, decisions.

“Pointe Orlando is more of a party,” said Ashley Nickell.  “Ours is more relaxing.”

The Funky Monkey Wine Company's Mills Avenue restaurant has an intimate, relaxing atmosphere.

Nickell is preparing the New Year’s Eve meal at Funky Monkey’s downtown Orlando location, at 912 N. Mills Ave. It promises to be a lavish offering in a restaurant that seats 45 people in an intimate setting.

Guests start with a duo of Carpaccio, tuna with wasabi cream and Gold masago, and beef with horseradish cream and olive oil drizzle.

The appetizer includes a choice of carmelized seared scallop, a bed of Lemon Risotto, Mint Oil drizzle, and Cripsy Pancetta … or a vegetable roll with cucumber, asparagus, roasted red peppers and carrots.

The soup course includes roasted garlic and leek soup, followed by a spinach salad that comes with strawberries, prosciutto, bacon vinaigrette, croutons, and poppy seeds.

The entrée gives guests a choice of filet of beef with lobster mashed potatoes, Mushroom Demi grace, and white pepper asparagus … or sea bass with Saffron mashed potatoes, truffle brown butter sauce, and bourbon glazed baby carrots … or Sous Vide braised lamb shank, cherry red wine reduction, roasted duck fat potatoes, and white bean ragout.

For dessert, guests can choose between “Hot Chocolate” bread pudding with peppermint infused whipped cream and vanilla bean ice cream, or Egg Nog Crème Brulee Cinnamon with whipped cream.

“It takes works,” Nickell said of the task she faces preparing this enormous meal.  “I have to plan it weekly in advance.”

Nickell added that during the meal, guests “can order whatever wine they want.”

The Funky Monkey's six course meal on New Year's Eve seems likely to keep guests smiling.

But if it sounds delicious, a lot of other people thought the same thing days ago.

“The Mills meal is completely sold out,” said Matthew Slattery, the executive chef.  “But at Pointe Orlando, they’re still accepting reservations.”

Funky Monkey’s larger restaurant is at Pointe Orlando at 9101 International Drive. This one has 150 seats, more than three times larger than the Mills Avenue site.

They also have a lavish meal planned – Panzanella Salad, Crab and Spinich Dip, an Assorted Buratta Platter with stuffed olives, roasted tomatoes, grilled artichokes and assorted meats, Lobster and Truffle macaroni and cheese, Apple and Blue Cheese Bites, Assorted Skewers (Miso glazed rock shrimp, salmon and ginger, chicken and broccoli Karage) and grape-infused meatballs stuffed with mozzerela cheese.

And as you wine and dine, there will be plenty of opportunities to celebrate with shows, shows and more shows.

“We’ve got about seven different production numbers,” said Jimmi Rossi, who manages the Funky Monkey’s new Mills Street diner, Bananas, and has been helping out with the Pointe Orlando entertainment.

“We have huge costumes,” he said.  “We have numbers from ‘Hairspray’ and ‘Grease.’  It’s very much a Las Vegas-type show.”

The elaborate show is put on by Danielle Hunter and Company, with performances by Hunter, Alicia Markstone, The Minx, the Funky Monkey Dancers and others.  The fun also includes plenty of ice. 

"It's very much a Las Vegas-type show," Jimmi Rossi says of the Pointe Orlando New Year's Eve bash.

“We’re doing a huge display and bringing in ice carvers,” Slattery said.  “They come in and carve the ice and build a three tier stations,” which will include a raw bar and dessert station.

The cost for this event is $99 and reservations can still be made by calling 407-418-9463.

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Simple steps to avoid a holiday meal becoming a health care disaster

TAVARES – It’s that timeless holiday tradition: the enormous meal cooked for the entire family, for relatives you haven’t seen all years, for whoever they bring along, old and new faces alike. When it comes to a family gathering for the holidays, the festively decorated dinner table awaits everyone.

Good news for the family. Good news for the ones who love to cook.

Not so good news — sometimes, anyway — for area hospitals, which can get awfully busy … assuming the chefs in the family don’t take some simple precautions before they start the meal.

Preparing a meal can be fun and creative. But it can also be risky if people don’t take steps to ensure their food is safely stored before they begin their cooking.  With that in mind, the Lake County Health Department is issuing some helpful advice to county residents about the importance of safe food preparation and storage, and how it can prevent the possibility of foodborne illnesses ruining that otherwise cheerful family meal.

Cooking is fun -- but are you making sure your kitchen stays clean while you're preparing food?

Some of their advice sounds so simple it almost doesn’t seem necessary to point out. Just the same, the Lake County Health Department’s environmental health director, Paul Butler, said it all begins with that sage advice from your mother: clean those hands.

 “Lake County residents should wash their hands and counter tops thoroughly before and after preparing foods to help eliminate bacteria,” Butler said.  “Foods should be cooked at the appropriate temperature and leftovers should be stored properly.”

So what needs to be done to keep that generous meal from ruining the entire day for your guests, not to mention their appetites and otherwise good health? The agency’s recommendations for those preparing the meal in the kitchen include:

  • Properly washing your hands — and don’t forget those fingernails — before and after handling any food.
  • Storing food properly, with adequate refrigeration temperatures or hot holding temperatures.  A safe refrigeration temperature is less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, while a safe hot holding temperature is greater than 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
  •  Never letting hot or cold foods sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
  •  Ensuring you’ve taken steps to have a safe cooling of foods, by getting meals to less than 41 degrees Fahrenheit within a four-hour time period.
  •  Avoiding cross contamination — that includes from uncooked meat or salad ingredients, for example.
  •  Proper cleaning and sanitizing of eating and cooking utensils, including work areas in the kitchen and any equipment used to prepare the foods.
  •  Making sure your food or equipment isn’t someplace where flies, roaches and other insects can get to it first, before your guests.
  •  Serving food on clean plates, which means not letting juices from raw meat, poultry and seafood come in contact with cooked food.
  •  Replacing serving plates often, and trying to avoid putting fresh food on serving plates that have been sitting out at room temperature for a while.
  •  Storing foods in shallow containers to refrigerate or freeze them.

  Taking these simple steps, the Lake County DOH says, means you’re not likely to be driving a relative to the emergency room an hour after the meal is over.

For more information about food safety, visit

To report a food or waterborne illness complaint, visit and click on the Foodborne Illness Complaint Form.

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