New tattoo shop creates a safe experience for clients

Maddi+Studer%2C+Kenzie+Hunter%2C+Krista+Bratvold+and+Kady+Williams+are+the+artists+at+the+newly+opened+Witch+of+The+West+Tattoo+Collective+Oct.+26.

Collegian | Milo Gladstein

Maddi Studer, Kenzie Hunter, Krista Bratvold and Kady Williams are the artists at the newly opened Witch of The West Tattoo Collective Oct. 26. The shop is a new addition to Fort Collins and opened in August. The shop’s goal is to create an open and inclusive space where everyone is welcome.

Sophia Masia , Staff Reporter

A new women- and queer-owned tattoo shop recently opened up at 706 S. College Ave., just northeast of campus, with a mission to make getting tattooed a bit less intimidating. 

Krista Bratvold opened Witch of the West Tattoo Collective after working for another company in Denver but wishing to transition up to Fort Collins. She wanted a space that felt safe and homey for everyone and decided to open her own shop. 

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Madi Studer sits on the couch in one of the artist studios at Witch of The West Tattoo
Maddi Studer sits on the couch in one of the artist studios at Witch of the West Tattoo Collective Oct. 26. “Tattooing (is) like a really hardcore coloring book,” Studer said. (Collegian | Milo Gladstein)

“I just wanted to open a space that was very ‘new age’ tattoo and very friendly to women and the LGBTQ+ community,” Bratvold said.

Having grown up in Fort Collins, Bravtold knew the stigma around tattoo parlors in town and wanted to introduce a new vibe. 

After deciding to open the shop, Bratvold aimed to bring in coworkers who were like-minded and agreed with moving away from the traditional atmosphere of tattoo shops. Maddi Studer, another artist at Witch of the West, posted a video on their TikTok introducing the shop and explaining their mission. The video now has more than 2 million views.

“Our whole goal is that we just want our clients to be comfortable and feel safe.” –Kady Williams, apprentice at Witch of the West Tattoo Collective 

There are currently four artists at Witch of the West you can book with: Bratvold (she/her), Studer (she/they), Kenzie Hunter (she/her) and Kady Williams (she/her). Their tattoos present a variety of styles, giving ample options for prospective clients.

“When Krista (Bratvold) said she wanted to start a woman-owned, queer tattoo space, I was like, ‘Oh, hell yes,’” Studer said. 

Despite tattoos becoming less taboo and more widely accepted, tattoo shops still pride themselves on being “hardcore” and “edgy.” This aesthetic is iconic to the tattooing community but can be nerve-wracking for some.

Witch of The West Tattoo studio area
Witch of The West Tattoo Collective studio area Oct. 26. (Collegian | Milo Gladstein)

“A lot of the time, I felt like when I would walk into a shop and try to show my portfolio, I was immediately pushed aside,” said Hunter, an apprentice at Witch of the West. “There were a lot of comments made when I was first starting out that made me feel this wasn’t an inclusive industry.” 

Tattoo Ink at Witch of The West Tattoo
Tattoo ink at Witch of The West Tattoo Collective Oct. 26. The shop is a recent addition to Fort Collins and opened in August. (Collegian | Milo Gladstein)

For some, such as those getting their first tattoos, women, people of color, assault survivors, those with anxiety or other mental struggles and the LGBTQ+ community, that traditional atmosphere can turn them away.  

The goal of Witch of the West is to make the clients who are usually looked down upon or made to feel unwelcome in regular shops feel good and comfortable while getting tattooed.

“I’ve heard a lot of people say that they didn’t feel like they have a voice in typical tattoo shops, so advocacy is very important to us here, like being able to advocate for yourself or your body,” Hunter said. 

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Some flash and other artwork available from Krista Bratvold at Witch of The West Tattoo
Flash and other artwork available from Krista Bratvold at Witch of The West Tattoo Collective Oct. 26. The shop did a spooky-themed flash event Oct. 28. (Collegian | Milo Gladstein)

To create a welcoming environment, the space is decorated with rainbows, disco balls, plants and art to make a more fun and playful experience for clients. The shop also sells work from local Fort Collins artists to give people a taste of the community.

Another way Witch of the West is deviating from the norm to create a better experience is with consent and privacy. 

In some tattoo shops, anyone and everyone can see the client getting their tattoo, so Witch of the West made sure to include rooms for privacy. All artists and apprentices also take a recurring seminar on being trauma-informed when it comes to touching clients’ bodies while tattooing.

“Our whole goal is that we just want our clients to be comfortable and feel safe,” said Williams, apprentice at Witch of the West.  

Witch of the West is an appointment-only studio where customers must contact artists through their Instagrams. Artists’ individual accounts are linked in the shop’s Instagram, so clients can browse their work and decide which style best suits them.

Reach Sophia Masia at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @sophie_masia.