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Winter Park: Mural pays homage to tattoo tradition

Cyndi Palmer
Sky-Hi Daily News

The human skin has long been a canvas for personal expression. The human body can be a mobile billboard, the perfect place to display different views on the world, whether it be the word “peace” in Japanese or the classic homage to “Mom.”

In the past five years, two tattoo parlors have inked their way into the growing community of Grand County. One of them is Winter Park Tattoo in the east end of the county, which has a growing clientele and a new mural that is causing quite a stir.

The tattoo shop’s wall now has new art designs on showcase for everyone to appreciate, but which can also enhance the arms, ankles, lower backs or other body parts.

Traditional tattoo designs inspired the new shop mural, currently being put together by artist Tyson Arnold.

Arnold, of Granby, has been drawing for about 20 years, “pretty much since I can remember,” he said. Since then, and for about the last decade, he has perfected his airbrushing skills and has taken up sculpting and carving as well.

“First off, I love art,” he said. “It allows us to create things that aren’t known in our world. It is something that everyone can do, and I feel everyone should do. It’s just like any other skill, the more heart you put into it, the better things start to look.”

He is excited about this “fairly new form of art, that is permanent, and walking around with a lot of people in the county.”

At first, he was skeptical about a tattoo shop in Grand County, but decided to check it out.

As an artist, Tyson visited the local store with some of his own art in-hand to have permanently etched onto his chest. It was a big piece, he explained, so he wanted the right artist to draw it.

Arnold met with Todd Bierman, the tattoo shop owner, and Bierman introduced him to the portfolio of in-shop artist A.J. Wix. Arnold skimmed through the drawings and picture books and was impressed.

“He was good,” Arnold said. “He had great design skills, and his color schemes and shading were equally excellent.”

Arnold showed Wix the tattoo he wanted on his chest and Wix, in turn, looked through Arnold’s scrapbook and drawings. Both Wix and Bierman liked his stuff, Arnold said, “so Todd offered some wall space for me to display some of my work.” Once they got to talking about the existing mural on the wall of the shop, the three got an idea to give it an updated, fresh new look.

The existing mural featured a centerpiece by Wix, a hand-painted scene with mountains and tattoo machines with a banner that reads “WP Tattoo.” But another artist had painted a scene around it which didn’t mesh well with A.J.’s work.

“It just didn’t fit,” Arnold said. “It wasn’t in the realm of tattooing and it was out of focus and hard to look at.”

He told Bierman he thought he could do something better for the wall and the shop’s ambiance. “The next week he had painted over the old airbrushed piece, bought airbrush paint and cleaner, and I was on my way to put my thoughts and imagination into motion.”

The first night Arnold came in to tackle the project, he was a little apprehensive. Bierman left the design completely up to him to create.

“This was a scary thought,” Arnold said. “He had never seen my painting skills, didn’t have a game plan, and he was trusting my abilities. That was the best part. I was excited.” So he picked up some traditional tattooing books with examples of ancient forms and works and found a tiger he liked.

“My thoughts grew with the painting, I didn’t really have a plan,” he said. But once he started, the lines of the tiger just flowed. “It was so nice to have the airbrush in my hand again (since it had been over a year since I last painted). With the freedom he granted me, I continued to come up with ideas as I went along.”

Arnold incorporated traditional tattoo styles with his “own little twist” and, so far, has put more than 50 hours into his new canvas. All of the work is in free-hand style, no stencils, sketching or masking is used.

The mural design honors the classic mythical battle between the tiger and the dragon, with surrounding elements from his imagination. It includes an Aztec stone pillar, and a forest fire with a samurai and ghost skulls in the smoke of the fire. Arnold also has a couple designs in the shop, both on the wall and in his portfolio for viewing upon request.

“I love working outside of work,” Arnold said, and encourages people to come in a take a look at the mural and its progress.

The mural, and possibly the inspiration for your next ink, may be viewed during business hours at Winter Park Tattoo, next to the movie theatre. Doors are open by appointment Thursday through Monday. For more information, call (970) 726-8811.


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