There is a tiny house on the edge of Mulberry Street in Fort Collins. It has that Fort Collins charm, a feeling of being quaint, yet perhaps haunted. The back entrance of the house shares a parking lot with a Peak Community Church. A little brick walkway leads to a bright red back door, and once inside, chatter and clips of a hair salon fills the air and the light steps of people getting massages in the basement below. The vibe is fanciful and feminine, the perfect place to get a tattoo.
Tattoo artist and Colorado State University alumna Audrey Ancell hosted the grand opening of her tattoo shop, Modern Medium Tattoo Studio, in one of the upper units of the 311 E Mulberry St. house on April 1. Ancell graduated from CSU with a Bachelors Degree in fine arts with a concentration in graphic design. Soon after, she worked as a graphic designer but found unrest in working behind a computer.
“I found that the artistry of it all was lost,” Ancell said. “There was a lot of formatting, which I knew was apart of it. It was not nearly as creative as I needed it to be. It just did not speak to me, and so I decided to start tattooing and putting out my art into the world.”
Ancell pursued a one-year apprenticeship in Berthoud, Colorado, to learn the trade of her new career and how she could apply her own art and style to the art of tattooing. While the new tattoo artist said she learned a lot during this time, she also found issues with that tattoo world that she did not like.
“My thing is, I wanted to be able to bring my mom into a place that she would feel comfortable getting tattooed, and I did not see that anywhere,” Ancell said. “Women especially, with the popularity of things like under-boob tattoos and all these intimate areas, they are having to go to these spaces that make them uncomfortable. So, I want to change that. That is why I am here.”
Rebecca Tatman is the owner and operator of Simply Enhancing Beauty Lounge, the salon that shares space with Ancell in the Mulberry house.
“I definitely had a mix of reactions knowing a tattoo parlor was going to be sharing building space,” Tatman said. “I was excited to have the space filled and have new energy in the building. I was also a little weary too because of misconceptions of the personality or ‘type’ of person attracted to doing tattoos, you know, a little rough around the edges, maybe not someone you want to share space with. But, honestly, I knew it would work out because I know I am not perfect and a little rough around the edges as well. She is totally cute, dready girl. Not your typical tattoo artist. Getting to know her and have a conversation with her is very easy. She is very nice and has good energy.”
Ancell is in the works of drawing up tattoos for both Tatman and Tatman’s daughter.
Ancell said she wants the feeling of her tattoo parlor to have more of a spa-feeling, which is why the location of her tattoo parlor is prime.
“She really tries to go against the norm of the tattoo world,” said Olive Ancell, Audrey Ancell’s sister who is a junior at CSU and has received all four of her tattoos from her sibling, one of which being a matching alien tattoo they both have. “She makes her shop super zen and clean, unlike other parlors that can look a bit intimidating.”
Ancell immerses her whole life into making art. Along with her tattooing, she is also a painting instructor at Painting with a Twist. For now, Ancell’s studio is white and bare with newness, but she plans to hang some of her artwork on the walls. Her drawings range from intricate illustrations of beautiful wood-nymph women to howling wolves, all brought to life with shades of markers. The artist says she is currently working on cleaning out and giving away her physical artwork collection and focusing on the art that does not clutter her house but lives on people’s bodies.
“I love this huge transformation that happens with people,” said Ancell. “They go from coming in and being very nervous, to in a lot of pain because it is painful, but as it is done and they see that work of art on their bodies it all disappears. They’re like, ‘You did this for me!’ It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
Not only does Ancell’s vision for her studio center around creating a comfortable environment for people to get custom tattoos, she also prides herself on giving her clients exactly what they want.
“I have found through both getting tattoos myself and hearing other people’s experiences that there is always this want to change someone’s vision into something you as an artist wants to do,” Ancell said. “I do not think that that is how it should be. I think if you come and you say, ‘I want this tattoo, it means a lot to me,’ you should get that tattoo.”
Client Lizz Arnold received her first tattoo from Ancell, an extensive black and white floral piece on her rib cage and down the side of her stomach.
“I do photography on the side, so I wanted someone who would be able to draw what I saw in my head as a photograph into a tattoo,” Arnold said. “I’m picky when it comes to what I see. Audrey was really understanding of that and cared about giving me what I wanted. I picked out the things I did not like or wanted changed, and she was never frustrated with me, always understanding.”
Ancell said her style of tattooing is a combination of neo-traditional and “old-school-esque,” somewhere in between realism and traditional. Her minimum is $50, and she provides CSU students with a 20 percent discount who bring their CSU IDs. Her art and tattoo work can be found on her Facebook page.
Collegian reporter Miranda Moses can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @mirandasrad.