While Denver's tattoo shops are permitted to be open (under strict guidelines), the businesses are hurting, and so are the artists facing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I’d say that we have all been conflicted throughout the opening process," says artist and Bound by Design owner Travis Koenig. "We are more than geared up and extremely excited to continue pushing forward the craft that we have all dedicated ourselves to. But over the last few months, the ever-increasing safety concerns, for ourselves and our clients, weigh heavy on our minds."
Without their jobs and clients, many of Denver's tattoo artists have found themselves suffering financially.
"Being unable to work during this time has been a real struggle as a self-employed artist," says artist Mandy Hazell of Bound by Design. "Not only financially, but emotionally as well."
The Colfax Ave Business Improvement District, which enjoyed the support of local tattoo artists who volunteered their time and talent to help make street banners last year, wanted to return the favor.
"Anyone who knows Colfax knows that the tattoo shops are one of the cornerstones of the community and some of the longest-standing fixtures of the street," says Michelle Valeri, the business improvement district's communications and programs director. "Last year, artists from our three district shops — Bound by Design, Lifetime Tattoo and End of Days Tattoo — donated their art to be produced on our street banners that line Colfax."
The works on those banners are now being sold as prints by the BID as a fundraiser for the tattoo shops and artists in the district.
"The banners were a hit with the community, and we were asked pretty frequently how people could get one," explains Valeri. "When the pandemic hit, we thought this would be a way to provide a little bit of relief for the shops and artists."
Each print costs $40, and the collection includes the work of nine artists: Koenig, Hazell, Jerod TedyNIGELS, Walter McDonald, Logan Le Blanc, Ian Rice, Honest John, Matt Esswein and Ed Teply.
See the prints for yourself at the Like Minded Productions website.