Located in the Adams Street corridor in the UpTown district, Ink and Iron Tattoo Parlour has become a mainstay for local body art enthusiasts. Since opening in 2014, the shop has cultivated a friendly and welcoming environment, sans any pretentious vibes.
Shop owner Mike Klein knew early on what he wanted to do in life. “I’ve drawn my whole life, so when I was trying to answer the age old question of what do you want to be when you grow up? I always knew I wanted to do something creative. I got my first tattoo at 17, and I have been obsessed ever since,” he explained.
After knocking on many doors, Klein landed an apprenticeship in 2006 in Bowling Green. Eight years later he opened his own shop, and the rest is history.
2021 was a year of recognition for Ink and Iron. The Toledo City Paper’s “Best of Toledo” awards named Klein as the runner up, and in-house tattoo artist Digger Pierce as the winner, and the shop itself won the award for Best Tattoo Studio.
Pierce got started with tattooing back in 2008, beginning with an apprenticeship at Revelation on Alexis Rd. After working for many years at BroadWing Tattoos in Bowling Green, he took a job offer at Ink and Iron in 2018. “It was the only shop I’d heard of at the time that was reputable,” said Pierce. “I decided that if I didn’t get the job here, I was going to quit tattooing and find something else to do.”
Nerd Culture in Ink
One aspect that sets Ink and Iron apart from other shops is their overall love of “nerd culture.” According to Klein, “When we talk about nerd culture, it’s a combination of everything that is pop-culture. It’s really just being in pop culture and understanding what makes people tick. This makes us more accessible, as people can relate to us better.”
“Most of the other shops feel like traditional tattoo shops,” said Pierce. “We’re really into the weird pop-culture stuff in a way that we don’t see too often when we’re at the conventions [for tattoo artists and studios].”
The open-concept layout at Ink and Iron is a modern take on the “back room” feel of a tattoo parlor. “It’s kind of got that old school barbershop feel– we can all holler at each other and hang out while we’re tattooing,” said Pierce.
Atmosphere is Everything
Both Klein and Pierce agree that the inviting nature of the shop is one of its best attributes. “The co-workers are all pleasant to work with, and the clientele is much better than anywhere else I’ve worked,” said Pierce.
“There’s sort of a cliche about tattooers– where everything is very serious, and it becomes unapproachable. We’re not like that,” Klein explained. “We’re much more relaxed. We just wanna hang out with people we like, do some cool art and hopefully they share good conversation and friendship with us.”
Klein added, “We operate more like a family, we love and fight passionately, but ultimately we all compliment each other. Everyone has their own niche and as a unit we’re pretty much unstoppable.”
Creating art on someone’s body that will potentially be there forever creates a lot of meaning between the artist and the client. “That’s my favorite part,” says Pierce. “Making those connections is incredibly therapeutic.”
For more info, visit inkandirontattoo.com