A neon-lit fortune cookie hung in the window is the first clue that this is not your average, impersonal tattoo parlor. Here, tattoo artist Jon Lew and his staff of ink and piercing specialists cultivate a fun and cozy atmosphere, compounded with a level of professionalism that comes from having more than 20 years of combined experience.
Tattoos begin with a consult from one of three tattoo artists who draw up custom illustrations to match the designs lurking in clients' minds. Fortune Cookie Tattoo's team boasts specialties in styles ranging from traditional to neo-traditional, which come to fruition via a spectrum of inks, including high-color, black and gray, and scratch and sniff.
Every artist at Pens & Needles has a specialty. Master artist Rich can help cover up embarrassing or just plain boring prior tattoos, as well as burns and scars. Fellow supreme inker Austin is a tamer of even the wildest tribal designs. And Anthony "Wacks" is the house-designated portrait proficianado. Every artist will take the time to consult with you regarding what can be accomplished within the time and budget you've allotted. Hourly tattooing rates vary, depending on which of Pens' seven accomplished artists you choose. Master artists charge between $100 and $150 an hour, depending on the complexity of your skin canvas, while custom and apprentice artists charge from $75 to $100 per 1/24 of a day.
Uncle Bud and Aunt Brinda Yates founded Pikes Peak Tattoo in 1978. After years of honing her craft, Brinda took home the first-place trophy in the Best Use of Tribal category at the 2009 Colorado Tattoo Competition. Now, when she isn't inking, she actively participates in the National Tattoo Association—of which Uncle Bud once served as president—and sings doggy lullabies to her herd of six chihuahuas.
To help with the shop, Brinda hired current manager, Barrett Leary, a skilled artist who got her start as the apprentice for Dan McClure of Bullwinkle's Tattoo and Body Piercing. Her artistry is wide reaching, as she also earned a bachelor of fine arts in ceramic sculpture from Kansas City Art Institute and was featured in the documentary Craft In America for developing a distinctive ceramic technique. Barrett skillfully draws custom designs and comfortably transitions between different styles, though she retains a fondness for large-scale pieces with bright colors. She and her fellow certified artists also offer permanent makeup, tattoo removal, and piercing. They perform all their services with hospital-grade sterilization techniques and keep their single-use-only equipment in special sterilization pouches, discarding each tool immediately after use.
When it’s a client's turn in the chair at Nostalgia Tattoo Co., they have a good amount of time under the needle during which to consider their surroundings. It should be some comfort, then, that the walls surrounding that chair are covered in a grid of awards earned by the shop and its staff. Spaces that might have otherwise been left bare flaunt original artwork and designs by the resident artists, some depicting grim, detailed skulls and others drawings of elephant gods. But the team's craft truly comes to life on the human canvas, as each artist's portfolio brims with classic designs, modern color-saturated pieces, and tattoos of the word "tattoo."
"I have always been an artist," says Heebee Jeebees' owner, Karen Knight. A native of Liverpool, England, her artistic travels have led her through careers in portrait painting, clothing design, makeup artistry, and other creative endeavors, before she thoroughly immersed herself in her love for body art. Alongside two other skilled tattoo artists, Knight creates custom artwork based on client specifications, and promises a lifetime of touch-ups to ensure the colors stay rich and the invisible ink stays invisible. Brightly hued walls lined with original artwork and photographs provide visual inspiration for patrons and passersby.
Michael spent his childhood scribbling drawings over every available surface of his mother's house. Sammy designed tattoos for his fellow Marines during the four years he was stationed in Hawaii and Japan. James listened transfixed as his grandfather, 90% covered in tattoos, regaled him with stories about each one.
These divergent paths led all three men to Living Art Tattoo, where they and their fellow artists ink clients with custom designs. In a nod to the military backgrounds of some of the staff, the Living Art team grants discounts to veterans and current military personnel. Along with tattoos, the studio specializes in piercings for various body parts, including earlobes, eyebrows, and tongues.