In the heart of downtown Bellingham, nestled between Jo Joe’s Doughnuts and Mo’s Parlor, a new tattoo studio has joined the community of locally-owned businesses. A neon sign glows in the upstairs window of the studio, the words reading “With Love, Tattoo.”
With Love, Tattoo opened in January 2022 and is owned and operated by Kamile Jordan and Minori Madeline, two female-identifying tattoo artists who have been based out of Bellingham for several years.
The artists first had the idea to start a studio together about two years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Jordan and Madeline said. They put it off for a long time to weather the storm of the pandemic, they said, but eventually decided that they needed to commit to it, even though things haven't fully reopened.
“We were like, if we’re going to make this happen, we’ve got to make it happen,” Jordan said.
The artists met and worked together for several years at Chameleon Ink Tattoo and Piercing Studio before deciding to open their own private studio together. Madeline said that she and Jordan were drawn to one another because they both have similar ideas and styles of art.
Jordan said they also both have similar feelings and attitudes about tattooing.
Both artists had their tattoo apprenticeships in more traditional walk-in studios that were run and mentored by men. They want to expand the idea of what tattoos and tattoo artists can look like.
Mark Keller is a resident tattoo artist who has been tattooing at Chameleon Ink for 14 years. He said he has mentored many apprentices over the years, including Jordan.
Keller said that when Jordan first applied to be an apprentice, her portfolio stood out because of her background as an artist.
“It was [full of] really good artwork,” Keller said. “If I gotta teach you how to be an artist and tattoo, that’s not what I’m doing. I knew she had a natural artistic talent, so it was just teaching her how to tattoo.”
Jordan and Madeline said that they loved their time at Chameleon Ink, but felt like they needed a new ceiling in order to grow.
“We needed a new house, honey,” Madeline said, laughing. “We needed to build a new house together.”
Jordan said that they and Madeline want their new studio to be a community-based space. They already have ideas for a variety of events to take place in the studio.
Jordan said they were especially interested in hosting flash events such as the one they did for Valentine’s Day, where both artists will come up with designs for special occasions and tattoo them. She said these events were often difficult to coordinate at Chameleon Ink due to the high number of artists there.
Madeline said that they want their new studio to be a safe place where their clients can completely let their guard down without feeling judged.
“We really care about our clients and the space that we provide,” Madeline said.
Alyssa White, a 19-year-old Bellingham resident, got a tattoo from Jordan in February 2022. She said that the studio was an extremely comfortable and welcoming environment.
“I had a really nice time,” White said. “I was nervous because this was my second time getting tattooed, but the whole time Kamile was very sweet and was making sure that I was comfortable with everything.”
Jordan said that more traditional tattoo studios can often be intimidating for female clients. They said they hope that With Love, Tattoo will help set the standard for how tattoo artists should treat their clients, regardless of gender.
She said that the most important thing about tattooing is the relationship between artist, client and the tattoo itself.
“It’s really ultimately about the tattoo and the person getting it, and them feeling comfortable and the tattoo artist feeling comfortable,” Jordan said. “If that means having an all-woman shop, so be it.”
Both artists spoke with pride and said they are excited to see where the future of their studio takes them.
Madeline said that she thinks going on your own is the best way to learn anything, even if it’s scary.
“I think sometimes it seems safer to stay in an established business,” Madeline said. “But the thing is, you’re putting your livelihood and business in someone else’s hands. I think when you take ownership over your life and your career, that’s when true growth happens and you get to flourish.”
Jordan Oliver (she/her) is a city life reporter for The Front. She is majoring in sociology with a minor in journalism. When not working or studying, she enjoys photography, bouldering, drinking overpriced coffee and watching tv shows about pirates.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.