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Make a Striking Statement: Tattoo Artists

What do a 5000-year-old frozen Austrian mummy and Post Malone’s face have in common? They both have some pretty shitty tattoos. Only the mummy has an excuse. The art of permanently adorning our skin with ink and dyes is far from new. Tattoos have been relevant in almost every ancient culture since we started fashioning tools and nothing has changed . . . except for the stigma.

Photography by Savannah Conley

The time of tattoos being considered outlaw is gone. Corporate giants use tattooed models in their ads to attract a hipper demographic and doctors, lawyers, politicians, and teachers alike are inked and proud. There is no denying the presence of tattoos in modern culture.

Walking into Fancy Rooster Tattoo in Montrose is like an explosion of art and oddities. It is exactly what a tattoo shop should feel like. It’s tough, it’s colorful, the music is loud yet it's curiously inviting. Phil Maier, the proprietor of Fancy Rooster, came from a tattooed family in Arizona, and so tattoos have been a part of his life as long as he can remember. One of his earliest memories, at the tender age of four, is his uncle and father tattooing each other in their kitchen. As he got older, he began sketching “cholo-style” tattoos and a few of those designs made their way on to his family members’ skin. He remained passionate about the art throughout his adolescence, tattooing friends here and there, but nothing on a professional level.

In 2006, after securing an apprentice position at a shop in Delta, he made the move from Arizona to Colorado. His apprenticeship was important to him because it taught him the tools of the trade as well as how to tattoo safely and with integrity. Starting a family sealed the deal and inspired Phil to make tattooing his career. Eventually, Phil opened Fancy Rooster which has been going strong for eight years. In that time, Phil and his team have developed quite the following in the valley and beyond.

Phil describes his style as diverse. Each piece is done with the utmost care to ensure his work stands the test of time. Ranging from tough and bold to pretty and delicate, you can expect to see everything from Japanese to Rat Fink, the iconic hot rod character designed by American artist and cartoonist Ed Roth.

When talking about the art of tattooing, Phil puts things into perspective. “We are all artists in our own right. Tattooers sell more art than the dude in a gallery, selling thousands and thousands of tattoos. It’s folk art.” One artist creating that many pieces in a lifetime, based on each customer's dream, is a true testament of skill and creativity. Phil’s advice to anyone looking to get their first tattoo would be to do your research. He recommends talking to an artist and analyzing their portfolio taking into account their line work, shading, and color saturation. If you have your heart set on a specific style then take your time to find someone that specializes in that style.

Many people choose to get tattoos to tell a story of some kind or to define who they are. Whether it’s to remember a lost loved one, to represent where we came from, a meaningful quote or to cover an unwanted body feature, tattoos, much like the clothes we wear, the way we style our hair, or even the vehicle we drive, are just another way to define who you are.

Where to Get Inked in the Valley

  • Fancy Rooster Tattoo, 508 E Main St, Montrose, CO 81401

  • Blaq Jack Tattoo, 130 N Townsend Ave, Montrose, CO 81401

  • Precision Art Tattoo & Body Piercing, 242 W Main St, Montrose, CO 81401

  • INK VIBES LLC, 14 S Uncompahgre Ave, Montrose, CO 81401

  • Asteria Tattoo & Body Art, 326 Main St Suite #101, Delta, CO 81416

  • Slink Tattoo, 409 Main St, Delta, CO 81416

  • Resurrected Ink, 333 Main St, Delta, CO 81416

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