Heart & Skin Tattoos’ Todd Larson brings personable, passionate tattoos to Fort Collins

Nate Day

Video by Chapman Croskell

Man sits and tattoos another man
Todd Larson tattoos a semi-colon on Nate Day Tuesday afternoon in Old Town Fort Collins. (Jon Price | Collegian)

 

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A local tattoo artist with a unconventional parlor and personality has gained traction since moving to Fort Collins about a year ago.

A former self-described “skinny redhead playing the clarinet” in high school, Larson, who now has a newborn son, has been tattooing professionally for about five years. 

Larson first became interested in art when he was a young child.

“I was kind of cursed from early on,” Larson said. “My dad sold art supplies for years.”

Larson’s father would often gift his children with art supplies, “conditioning their brains” to think of art as a reward, he said.

Larson’s affinity, which began in high school, stretched long beyond his years in graduate school. Larson continued to teach art at community colleges until becoming an apprentice to a tattoo artist.

Larson’s journey as a tattoo artist began with a strict mentor.

“His style of teaching was pretty high pressure,” Larson said. “He gave me a couple of machines and said ‘tattoo your friends,’ and then would hang out in the other room.”

Despite the stressful learning environment, Larson said he is thankful for his tough teacher.

“I appreciated that kind of pressure,” Larson said. “You’re really taught whether you want to do this or not.”

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During his five years working as a tattoo artist, he has gained over 12,000 followers on Instagram.

Kara Walker,  a frequent client of Larson’s, found him via social media.

“I’m not sure exactly how I came across Todd’s Instagram,” said Kara Walker, a frequent client of Larson’s. “But once I saw his art and style, I knew he was the one I wanted to do it.”

Walker said she had been to three different artists before finding Larson, and since then, she has never looked back.

“I’ve really enjoyed working with Todd,” Walker said. “It feels like I’ve built more of a relationship with him than the previous experiences which felt more like a transaction.”

For Walker, it wasn’t just the relationship that she built with Larson that made the experiences of receiving tattoos more enjoyable, but his personality too.

“I have found that when you’re sitting or laying in pain for up to 4 hours, the experience is more enjoyable when you vibe with the person doing the work,” Walker said.

Andrew Verdicchio has also received tattoos from Larson.

“(Larson) has a really cool and unconventional color palette,” Verdicchio said. “He has a very gentle disposition and really knows how to make you feel comfortable and at ease.”

Verdicchio’s tattoos given by Larson heal faster than his others given by other tattoo artists, he said.

As to whether Verdicchio would recommend Larson to others looking for a new tat, he simply said: “In a heartbeat, it was the best tattoo experience I’ve ever had, hands down.”

Matthew Kennedy, another fan of Larson’s work, remembers his first time speaking with Larson.

“He liked some of my posts and at one point he threw it out there that he’d be interested in tattooing me…” Kennedy said. “Todd is a really mellow guy and the more we talked I really liked the idea of him tattooing me.”

Larson’s experience as a teacher here in the United States and in South Korea were also reasons for Kennedy being so willing to work with Larson on six of his seven tattoos.

“The thing I really admire about Todd is his willingness to get out of his comfort zone in order to propel himself forward in his artwork,” Kennedy said. “He’s never satisfied with the idea of being comfortable.”

Larson has an online presence that can be viewed on Instagram @ToddShowdown. 

Nate Day can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com.

Collegian reporter Nate Day can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @NateMDay