CASPER, Wyo. — There is a uniquely shaped building at the intersection of Collins Drive, 5th Street and Center Street in downtown Casper.
Thomas Walsh and Charlette Tinnelli have reanimated the interior of the triangular building, making it home to their new Wyoming Tattoo Co.
When you want to get a sense for what artists are all about, it helps to get them talking about their art. Walsh did the designs and Tinnelli did the lettering on these posters for the Friday, Feb. 7 grand opening of their new tattoo shop:
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Walsh talked about the inspiration behind the imagery, beginning with the butterfly between the two skulls.
“We’re seeing that as this is us and then the life that we have together is something new,” Walsh said. “It’s taking off. A butterfly, you know, seeing more in the background coming out of it. The flowers are family.”
While the grand opening is set for Feb. 7, the two haven’t been sitting around.
“We’ve been busy tattooing since we opened,” Tinnelli says.
Their idea to launch Wyoming Tattoo Co. together began around Nov. 2019.
“Charlette was coming to get tattooed every two weeks and just like her drive [impressed me],” Walsh said. “I knew that she was tattooing but I hadn’t even seen any of her drawings ever. I had just seen some of her tattoos. But her coming to get tattooed so often, it’s just like, ‘She’s got it.'”
“That’s the way you know you’re a tattooer…just going to get tattooed. It’s like she’s wanting to grow, she’s wanting to learn, she’s going to collect the tattoos. It’s all part of it and I just saw that fire in her.”
Tinnelli decided to get into tattooing during her junior year of high school.
“I started tattooing when I was 17 because my dad Ryan Tinnelli has been a tattoo artist my whole life,” she says. “He’s who I look up to.”
While Tinnelli’s passion for tattoo art carries forward that family lineage, Walsh had a different start.
“I’d started tattooing myself in 2011 and I got a opportunity for an apprenticeship in 2013 with Joe Chandler in Douglas,” he says. “I worked with Joe for about a year and I went to Cody to tattoo with Casey at Extreme Tattoo for about six months before I got a job at Black Sunday Tattoo.”
“I went to Black Sunday Tattoo for two years. I opened a private studio in Douglas for a year, and that wasn’t really the thing, so I traveled to North Dakota, Idaho and Arizona tattooing before I came back to Black Sunday.”
Walsh stayed at Black Sunday for another year before he moved over to Electric Hare Tattoo. That’s when Tinnelli began coming in regularly to get tattoos from Walsh and the idea for the new shop began to sprout.
“This shop is a miracle,” Walsh says. “We had the idea and no funds and no thought that we’d be able to make this happen right away.”
Walsh says that he’d think about the triangular building, which used to house Sin City Tattoos and Piercings, each time he’d drive by.
“Every time I’d drive by I’d think, ‘Somebody needs to open that shop again because it’s been a tattoo shop for 15 years,'” he says.
But Walsh and Tinnelli considered other spaces as well.
“We went to go look at some office buildings and they were off the beaten path,” Walsh explains. “You go in the building and it’s up the stairs and down the hall, last door on the left. There’s just no walk-in traffic you’re going to get from that and you’ve got to do way more leg work.”
“It was just like a heavy no.”
Knowing that the triangular building was available, Walsh and Tinnelli came and took a look.
“We came and looked at this place and my heart just kept saying, ‘This is it,'” Walsh adds. “We sat down one day and we prayed about it and after that, like everything that we needed, even the funds…everything came to us.”
“And so we opened in December and we’ve been staying busy. People are coming to get tattooed, people are walking in to get tattooed. People are calling. It’s like we’re walking in miracles and the shop is direct result of that. We both just jumped head first in the deep end on this one and the more that we press into it, the more that good things keep happening.”
Tinnelli says that getting to focus on her work as a tattoo artist makes her look forward to each day.
“It’s pretty cool,” she says. “Instead of waking up in the morning [being] like ‘I have to go to work again,’ it is like it doesn’t feel like work. I get to go create again.”
“Part of the artistic freedom of tattooing is we get a be our own bosses,” he says. “It is not a 9-5 even if we work 9-5. It doesn’t feel like it. Tattooing is one of those things where you never know what’s going to happen. You know that tattoos are going to happen.”
“Somebody’s going to come to collect a tattoo, but you might never see that person again. You know even at the end of their lifespan, this tattoo is going in the dirt, but we put 100% into it and they get to wear it and it’s like a badge of honor that they come to get, and we just happen to be ones that get to make that form.”
Walsh describes something gripping about the passion for tattooing.
“We take pride in being a custom shop and a hand-drawn custom shop where we’re using like the cutting edge technology as far as tattooing equipment, but still keeping that human element with our hand drawn tattoos, keeping the art alive,” he says. “It’s keeping us alive too. There’s joy in it. There’s joy in being able to create something for someone or even just to get to be a part of the process. Sometimes I feel like I’m behind the glass watching it all happen, even while I’m tattooing.”
“There’s something something supernatural about it that grabs a hold of you. When you start tattooing it gets in your blood and you just can’t shake it. If you’re born to tattoo or born to collect tattoos or whatever it is, that makes itself known to you pretty pretty quick once you start messing with it.”
So why the name Wyoming Tattoo Co.?
“I always really liked the name Wyoming for a tattoo shop just because Wyoming is a weird word. But ‘co’ because it’s co-owned,” Walsh explains.
Tinnelli’s artistic style can be summarized as the “simplify to beautify style,” according to Walsh.
“She’s doing lots of floral pieces, she’s doing everything that walks in the door,” he says. “So whether they want full color or black and gray she’s knocking it out of the park and her drawing style is just her own.”
“She can draw anything. She’s definitely got a lot of psychedelic influence in her art and I think a lot of that probably comes from her dad because he’s got that kind of style too. But her style is her own.”
Walsh says that the goal is to find a style which is both appealing and will stay appealing for a long time.
“He does a lot of traditional stuff and a lot of cool mandalas,” Tinnelli chimes in.
Walsh describes their main tattoo styles as traditional, pseudo-traditional and neo-traditional.
“Our style is like, I don’t know, pseudo-traditional style or the recipe for a tattoo that’s going to stand the test of time,” he says. “That is what you’re going to get when you come to us.”
“It seems like the more we tattoo, more just keeps coming to us and I feel like we’re very blessed to be able to make the tattoos.”
The walls of the interior of the new shop are covered in art. Some of that is Walsh and Tinnelli’s own art and the rest are pieces they’ve collected from other artists and tattoo artists.
“There’s just stuff to look at everywhere,” Tinnelli says.
“It’s bold. It’s bright. It’s colorful,” Walsh says of the space. “I’ve been collecting paintings from tattooers.”
One piece comes from Keith Haines at Black Sunday Tattoo, who’s work Walsh says stands out in the community. Haines brought in a piece when they opened the new shop.
“So that was like Grandfather Tattoo came in to say, ‘Here’s the blessing,’ you know?” Walsh says.
There’s also vinyl records on the walls.
“If you want to grab a record off the wall, throw it on the record player while you’re chilling in the lobby, it’s all usable,” Walsh says.
Another poster on the wall was given to them by The Bourgeois Pig, where some of Friday’s grand opening events will occur.
“Our grand opening party is February 7,” Tinnelli says. “It’s going to be an all-day thing, but from 10am-6pm. we’re doing a tattoo party here at Wyoming Tattoo Co. We have a big flash sheet for everyone to pick from. $50 tattoos all day.”
“And then the after-party is going to be at The Bourgeois Pig and we have two bands, Piss Listener and Spangler (light).”
The concert will go from 7-10 pm.
People who get tattoos on Friday will get entered into a raffle with winners to be selected during the concert at the coffee shop. Raffle tickets will be available to those not wanting to get a tattoo as well.
Raffle prizes will include:
- tattoo gift certificates
- Sonic Rainbow gift certificates
- Bourgeois Pig gift certificates
- car detail from CB Detail
- haircut from Thia B
- photo shoot from Cari Faye Photography
- hand-made fly-fishing flies from Bighorn Basin Anglers
- skateboard from Zumiez