INKspiration Tattoo opens in McGregor

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Tattoo artist Crystal Scarff, owner of the newly-opened INKspiration Tattoo in McGregor, gives Rachel Parisi a circus elephant tattoo between her shoulder blades. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

For those looking to get inked, there’s a new, local option, with the opening of INKspiration Tattoo in McGregor. Owned by artist Crystal Scarff, a McGregor native, the tattoo studio is located at 330 Main Street, next to the McGregor Public Library.

“I grew up here and I love it here,” Scarff said of her choice to open up shop in McGregor. “It’s a beautiful place.”

Scarff said art has always been a big part of her life. She began drawing as a child and eventually became a portrait artist, using graphite, pastels and paint to capture the likeness of both local people and, most recently, celebrities. When, around a year ago, she was asked to consider becoming a tattoo apprentice, trading graphite and paper for ink and skin, Scarff said she hesitated, as she enjoyed working from her own kitchen table. Eventually, though, she agreed.

There is a school where one can learn how to become a tattoo artist, noted Scarff, but she said becoming an apprentice is the best route.

“You can see things happening and learn from that person,” she explained, “especially the ins and outs of the business and how to deal with customers.”

Taking a page from her portrait work, which she still continues, Scarff said realism is her tattoo specialty.

“I do everything,” she said, “but I enjoy the realistic things. Those are the ones I get really excited about.”

Scarff said INKspiration Tattoo will be open Tuesday through Saturday, from noon to 8 p.m. each day. For anyone interested in getting a tattoo, she said consultations are best done in person.

“We’ll talk about the tattoo,” she said, going over size, color and other aspects. “It’s hard to do over the phone or email when I can’t see your body—the size of your arm—or a picture or details about what the person wants.”

So far, said Scarff, she’s pretty booked, which has made her feel pretty good about this new endeavor.

“I’ve been watching what she’s put out. I’ve been excited for [INKspiration] to open,” shared Rachel Parisi, of Monona, who was waiting for Scarff to give her her 12th tattoo—a circus elephant between her shoulder blades—last Wednesday afternoon.

Although a pro like Parisi didn’t need to be pushed to get her most recent tattoo, Scarff said some beginners need to be handled with care.

“I’m really good at making people feel comfortable,” she said, referencing one worried customer from the night before. “I let her feel the needle. I dipped it in water and ran it across her leg before I even put the ink in.”

At the end of the day, if a customer goes home happy with a smile on his/her face, Scarff said she can go home happy, too.

“I get to do art all day long and get paid for it,” she remarked. “Anything with art is fun and getting to talk to people all day is fun. It’s all fun. I really enjoy it.”

For those interested in viewing some of Scarff’s tattoo or portrait work, check out her Facebook page or Instagram account,
@crscarff. A page for INKspiration Tattoo can be found on Facebook as well. Some of her art will also be sold at the shop.

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