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Photo by Stella Harvey

By Stella Harvey

Despite the slushy snow collecting on either side of the sidewalk, the bustling lobby of Old School Tattoo and Piercing welcomed visitors to its Valentine’s Day Flash tattoo event.

Instead of the walls being covered in flash tattoos sheets, or pre-drawn designs of available tattoos, Old School Tattoo offered three sheets with design options specially designed for the holiday.

Jenny Foertsch, owner and business administrator of Old School Tattoo, said the event started three years ago when tattoo artist Yasmin Zouhby pitched the idea to Foertsch and the rest of the staff.

Jenny said since she and her husband Paul Foertsch bought the business in 2013, they have hosted several flash tattoo events. She said most of their artists specialize in designing larger custom tattoos, while flash events focus on smaller pieces that are pre-designed.

“We don’t want to be the kind of shop where you just walk in and pick something off the wall,” Jenny Foertsch said. “[But] by doing events like this we still get to participate in the traditional tattoo culture.”

Since buying the business, Jenny said she and Paul have worked on refining the image and branding of the shop, slowly making changes over the years. She said when they first bought the business, the walls were bright red and there were flames painted on the doors.

“There was flash on the walls that no one would ever want to get, and it was just really dated and old school,” she said.

The shop’s walls, one painted yellow and the other covered floor to ceiling in exposed brick, display paintings and art created by the shop’s tattoo artists. Jenny said they’ve also made strides to show up in their community more by participating in downtown Bellingham’s monthly Art Walk and events with local schools.

Jenny said Old School Tattoo has also hosted Halloween and Star Wars themed flash events.

“I like the flash events because it’s not just our clients who are showing up, it’s people who might not otherwise come here,” she said.

Bellingham resident Samara Singer said after getting her tax return, she decided to participate in the event to treat herself to a tattoo, something she has wanted for a long time.

“I haven’t gotten a tattoo in like seven years, but I’ve been wanting to for seven years,” Singer said, laughing. “I’m going to get a little bee on my ankle because just a few weeks ago I told [my fiance] I wanted to get a bee tattoo, and then they had a bee tattoo!”

Katerina Freedman, a second-year Western student studying computer science and music, waited for her friend in the lobby. She said they had decided to brave the weather after they found out about the event.

“She had been talking about wanting to get a tattoo this week and then we heard about the flash sale, so we decided to check it out,” Freedman said.

Despite having low expectations because of the snow, Jenny said she was pleasantly surprised with how many people showed up to participate. She said it’s nice to see new faces and connect with the community.

Even though there are a lot of other tattoo shops in the area, Jenny said she and Paul are kept busy with running their small business.

“I think we just really invest in our people and in the style that they want to do,” Jenny said. “We’re more about making connections and lasting client relationships so that people come back as opposed to just doing high turnover.”

For more information on Old School Tattoo and Piercing, visit

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