East Lansing, Mich.—Located in downtown East Lansing between cafés and bars stands Ink and Needle Tattoo. The tattoo shop is an East Lansing favorite for Michigan State students seeking to have their stories in ink. The shop is known to have a welcoming atmosphere and draws in all kinds of students.
Savannah Hoffman, a sophomore studying human biology, has a tattoo on the side of her foot that holds special meaning.
“My tattoo says, ‘hugs and kisses.’ This means a lot to me because I used one of the cards my grandma sent me to have her handwriting tattooed,” said Hoffman. “After she passed away, I always knew I wanted to get a tattoo for her. When I finally turned 18, I got the tattoo, and it meant a lot to me and my family.”
Hoffman had a positive experience at Ink and Needle, and it was shaped by the skilled tattoo artists and their comforting presence. Although nervous about the pain associated with getting a tattoo on her foot, she found reassurance in the artist’s expertise.
“She told me the tattoo was going to take 15-20 minutes. In reality, it really only took three,” Hoffman recalled. “And honestly, that made my experience so much better.”
Kate Doherty, with a similar familial story, chose Ink and Needle to remember a wise saying passed down through family generations.
“My mom’s dad taught her that everything is eventually going to be okay no matter what life throws at you,” Doherty shared. “My mom and I went and got ‘This too shall pass’ inked. Once my sister was of age, she also got it inked, in the exact same spot as mine,” Doherty said.
Hannah Young, a talented tattoo artist, has been working at Ink and Needle for a few years, but her path to get there was not always easy.
“I was always an artist, in middle school and high school. It’s something that kind of came naturally to me when I was younger,” said Young.
Although she is a seasoned artist, Young said creative blocks sometimes can happen and are difficult. “I have had to deal with some creative blocks or just, in general, working on a piece that might be a bit more challenging can be really scary,” said Young. “Just taking a break and stepping away from that helps the most.”
For Young, the most rewarding thing about being a tattoo artist is the confidence a new tattoo can give a person, and she takes that responsibility seriously. “A lot of the time it helps with accepting your body and who you are,” Young said.
One particular tattoo holds special meaning to Young. “I recently had a girl come, and she had gotten surgery that meant a lot to her, and she still had scars left over, and I was able to cover them up for her,” Young said. “Just seeing her emotional state. She was crying. I was crying. It just feels so good to be able to give that to a person.
As customers leave with new ink to show off, they have a newfound view of Ink and Needle, as well as new connections and new memories.