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WisconSkin Ink to leave its mark on Grafton PDF Print E-mail
Written by JOE POIRIER   
Wednesday, 03 January 2018 19:01

Army veteran whose tour in Afghanistan prepared him for a career in body art to open village’s first tattoo and piercing parlor on Wisconsin Avenue

    Tattoo artist Frederick “Fritz” Meyer plans to change things up for Grafton’s downtown business scene by opening the first tattoo and body piercing parlor in the village.
    WisconSkin Ink is set to open in downtown Grafton at 1309 Wisconsin Ave. in February.
    “My idea for a logo is to have a cow with its spots getting tattooed on,” Meyer said. “I’ve been artistic since I was a child, and I started dabbling in tattooing when I was in high school.”
    Meyer is currently a manager for Northern Lights Tattoos in West Bend. Before he entered the body art industry, Meyer was a paratrooper for the U.S. Army and served in Afghanistan for 15 months.
    Drawing and tattooing is a cathartic experience that helps him process his unit’s combat experience, which was recounted in the Academy Award-nominated documentary “Restrepo,” Meyer said.    
    “Doing artwork is a way to get my thoughts and emotions out without ever actually saying it,” he said.
    During his time in Afghanistan, Meyer gained more insight about tattooing from a fellow paratrooper while he practiced on his buddies in the barracks. He also gained valuable medical experience, as he was required to be certified as a first responder and combat lifesaver so he could help his injured comrades.
    “When it came to tattooing and piercing, I didn’t have the beginner’s nervous jitters because I was already used to sticking people with IV needles,” he said. “Having that background, I was already good to go when I learned about cleanliness and contamination for tattooing and piercing.”
    After Meyer finished his active duty in 2009, he studied to become a certified personal trainer, but because of the economy he noticed people were spending more money on tattoos than gym memberships.
    “I wasn’t getting much fulfillment out of being a personal trainer, and I figured if people are willing to spend money on tattoos, then I might as well try that. So I went to a trade school in Louisiana,” Meyer said.
    Meyer said he wanted to start a tattoo and body piercing parlor in Grafton because of its proximity to the south end of the county and Milwaukee, and because there are no similar shops in Grafton.
    “There’s nothing really in between us and the whole Mequon and Milwaukee crowd, so Grafton seems to be like the perfect central location with a decent younger community as well,” Meyer said. “Port Washington has had Homeward Bound Tattoo and they’ve been there forever. I feel it would be disrespectful to be competition there.”
    In September, the village amended its ordinances to allow a tattoo and body piercing shop to operate in its central business district.
    Last month, the Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit for Meyer’s business to start in February.
    Meyer said he wants his shop to be a hub for local art enthusiasts even if they aren’t into body art.
    “I’m open to having any local artists who would like to sell their work at the store,” he said. “It would be nice to have a little artistic community and rally point for the art nerds in Grafton.”
    Meyer said his clientele ranges in age from young adults to people in their 80s.
    “We get a lot of old vets who want to get their stuff rejuvenated so it looks like it did back in the day,” he said. “There used to be a stigma that only prostitutes and sailors get tattoos. Now we hear people say, ‘I always thought they were neat, and now I want to check that off my bucket list.’”
    As the stigma of tattoos diminishes, the breadth of art in the industry is evolving.
    “Some of the art I’ve seen over the past five years is so amazing. It’s not like it was 50 years ago when it was just a bunch of bikers doing tattoos. Now it’s art school graduates,” he said. “Tattoos are getting more and more popular because the interest is always there. Tattooing is one of those things where people first see it and then they want it.”

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