Ink and Iron Makes Its Mark

Ink and Iron Tattoo Parlour
1505 Adams St., Toledo.

Ink and Iron Tattoo Parlour is a tattoo shop comprising 10 tattooers from all different walks of life. This shop has one goal: a client experience that is art-centric in a safe and friendly atmosphere. When people are more concerned with the money in their pocket than they are being a service, they bastardize something truly special. Tattooing has been beyond influential in the life of Mike (Panda) Klein, owner of Ink and Iron Tattoo Parlour.

In 2014 Ink and Iron Tattoo Parlour was founded. Klein, who has been tattooing since 2008, found his passion – the world of tattoos. It was truly a revelation, Klein said. “Finding something that you truly love will force you to run towards it feverishly.” His team of tattooers have come together like a rag team of Bad News Bears proportions. The styles of tattooing this shop produces truly take you on a journey from neotraditional to black and gray realism.

Located in the heart of the Uptown District on Adams Street, I&I’s crew truly found a network of like minded individuals who have helped all feel welcome. If you are interested in getting tattooed by a group of pop-culture loving, friendly, sarcastic, wild group of artfully minded nerds, Ink and Iron is definitely the place for you. Tattoos are truly a gift that last a lifetime but a great experience with this crew will help to mold friendship and camaraderie with your artist!

What is your ideal type of client?

Ink and Iron prides itself on custom art, our ideal client is someone that allows the artists here to create.

What kinds of art do you prefer working on?

I speak on behalf of the entire staff when I say we all are art nerds. We enjoy the creative process. So there isn’t a medium that one of us doesn’t have the ability of fumbling our way through.

Do you create most designs yourself?

We are a custom shop. So, primarily that is where we get to shine. Ferraris can drive 5 mph but they are meant to drive fast. If you want a dope tattoo you should let your artist drive fast. It’s not that we are going to be grumpy if we have to drive 5 mph. It is just not what we are designed for.

What is your most meaningful tattoo?

In 2018 I went to Colorado and got tattooed by a buddy of mine. My full back shoulder blades to the top of my thighs. After I came home from Colorado about a month and a half later I found out that I had cancer. I had no previous symptoms. But because my lymph nodes were battling cancer, the additional stress to them of dealing with the tattoo pigment caused them to increase in size. Had I not gotten tattooed, I might not be here to talk about it. I was stage 3, I had it in my armpit chest and diaphragm.

How did you get into this field?

Most of us went the traditional tattooer route of an apprenticeship to then being released. Everyone’s story is a little different in the length of time from apprentice to artist. But the diversity in our experiences make us a well rounded shop. 

What qualities unite tattoo artists?

Tattooing isn’t proprietary to one artist, one shop, one theology. I think the tattoo artists that can let their egos fall and just create for the sake of creation. Artists in general find camaraderie in that space. 

What do people with tattoos have in common with each other?

People always say “don’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.” I say if you are truly a Bentley, you should never rock stock paint. The thing that unites every person who has ever gotten tattooed, is that we are finding what is our personal theology. What makes us tick. It’s remarkable that we are even here as humans. I think it is cooler that we all can feel just a little more complete with art. That is really a pretty thought to me.

Do you have any tattoos that you now regret?

I have been using Luxe Laser in Maumee to reverse those ideas. Hahaha. When you are young in the tattoo industry, you get tattoos because you want to be tattooed. The older you get in the industry, you have the money to then get dope stuff. So, sometimes getting a new tattoo makes you change how you feel about the old ones.

Has there ever been a design that you have refused to tattoo on someone?

Ink and Iron is huge on comfortability. We want everyone to feel included and cared for. So, we really stray away from anything hateful towards any demographic of people.

How long are your tattoo sessions, usually?

It’s kind of like asking how long is a movie.  Depends on the movie.

What other tattoo artists are you a huge fan of?

We have 10 tattooers at Ink and Iron.

@pandatat – Myself (nominated)
@tattoosbydigger (nominated)

Who is your mentor?

The shop has had a giant background as far as mentors. Our careers started all over the place 

What other lives/careers have you had?

Our work histories are all over the map. Warehouse worker. Forklift instructor. General manager of a bar. Welder. We are truly a wild crew with varying backgrounds.

What are some skills that a great tattoo artist must have?

Starting off with the ability to draw. If you cannot draw you shouldn’t be a tattooer. The ability to pivot. Your ego has to get checked. If you are so prideful that you are unwilling to do right by your client, you also shouldn’t be tattooing. I also think that it is important to get a proper apprenticeship from an artist you respect. Not just send the same email to 100 tattooers hoping for an apprenticeship. 

What would our readers be surprised to learn about you?

Tattoo shops now aren’t nearly as scary as they once were. We are all just nice chill artfully minded folks.

How old were you when you got your first tattoo?

I was 17. Got tattooed by “Mother Nature” on the East Side. That was the only shop in town that my mom could sign off on. 

Do you return to the same artists again for additional work?

I have been extremely fortunate to have been tattooed by some super rad tattooers. I am running out of room, so I have to be a bit more strategic these days. But I enjoy collecting tattoos from a myriad of artists.

What terminology do I need to know to talk about tattoos without sounding like a doofus?

Stylistically the artists here vary from fine line black and gray to neotraditional to realism. Doing research on these styles ahead of time will help a potential client to find the right artist. Avoid the phrase “tattoo gun,” replace it with “tattoo machine.”