You can tell a lot about a person from their clothing, music or vocabulary. At Dinkytown Tattoo, you get a good idea of the style and personality of an artist by their work station’s look.
Daniel Peace, a traditional American-style artist and the shop’s co-owner, is a picture-perfect example.
Hundreds of vintage flash tattoo sets made by his family members adorn the shop’s walls. The style is his specialty.
Peace said he likes to create with the style’s trademark heavy, bold lines and limited color palette. Even his first tattoos — an anchor and star on both of his big toes — fit the style. A third-generation tattoo artist, his love of the art runs in the family.
“It’s all I’ve ever done,” Peace said. He started learning at 15. “I just enjoy what I do.”
Lucy Austad also wanted to tattoo when she was 15, but said starting out, learning and finding a shop to work in was difficult. She didn’t think she would do it.
Specializing in black line work now, she’s noticed a trend in the work she does. Her delicate, intricate line-work and mandala-style designs along the sternum have recently become more popular.
“I’m all about getting a tattoo just because you like the look, but don’t get one just because your friends do,” Austad said. “That’s good mom advice.”
Nick McCurdy also knows parental guidance well. His father was a tattoo artist, so it was no surprise when he followed suit.
Stenciling on the most basic lines, McCurdy can recreate hyper-realistic portraits. He’s done Walter White from “Breaking Bad”, Twisty the Clown from “American Horror Story” and — although they can make him nervous — client family photos.
While a tattoo of someone famous will still be recognized, he said even the smallest details of someone’s family will be noticed.
“They have to be perfect,” he said.
Amy Campbell, McCurdy’s “roomie” who moved into the shop this month, refuses to do family tattoos for this exact reason. At her rubber duck-filled station, she works on pieces from simple constellation-inspired line designs to the Butter Robot from “Rick and Morty.”
The self-described “rude, crude and tattooed” artist also excels in black-and-gray portraits.
“I like to refer to myself as a human printer,” she joked.
Having tattooed in shops for only a year and a half, she said she’s excited to be in a place with many other artists to work and improve.
“You’re forever learning,” Campbell said. “I didn’t come here to be stagnant and not excel.”
Greg Lombardi, the shop co-owner, said that’s one of the reasons it’s important for them to have many different artists.
Even when other artists Chelsea Louviere, Ruuben and A.K. aren’t in-store, the shop has a lot of diversity to offer. The artists learn from each other.
While many artists find their style and place early on, Lombardi picked up the skill in his thirties after studying graphic design. He took over Dinkytown Tattoo less than four years ago. Behind the tattoo gun, he enjoys drawing “his version” of Japanese tattoos.
“I enjoy the subjects, stories, myths, how it’s drawn and how it moves on the body,” he said.
With brightly colored grim reapers and flaming dragon head illustrations, he adds to the shop’s body of work.
Marcus Thompson, who described his personal style as “illustrative realism,” understands this love for the art.
“People ask me how I fell in love with tattoos, and I have absolutely no clue,” Thompson said. “I think I liked tattoos before I realized there were ink and needles involved.”
Whether it’s a colorful octopus or a C-3PO portrait, he said he often tries to zone out with headphones so he can “give his all to the art.”
“I think every tattoo is the best tattoo I’ve ever done, and I think that’s how it should be,” Thompson said. “It’s a constant progression. This isn’t just my job. It’s my life.”