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InkJunki holds grand opening

Derrick Madaris (left) and Austin Krauss (right) are about to open InkJunki LLC., 223 S. Knowles Ave., New Richmond. The grand opening is scheduled for March 3-5. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)1 / 2
InkJunki includes an exhibit space for local artists to gain some exposure with plans to introduce clothing down the road. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)2 / 2

A year ago, if you wanted to add ink to your collection, you had to travel elsewhere. Then in June, Youth Gone Wild opened and now tattoo artist Austin Krauss has opened InkJunki at 223 S. Knowles Ave.

Friends since high school, Krauss and piercer Derrick Madaris decided it was the right time and New Richmond was the right place to hang their shingle.

"I've always wanted to own my own shop. I just needed the experience and to be able to save up enough money," said Krauss.

Having grown up in the area, Krauss has lots of local clients glad to see him open shop in New Richmond. Beside being right on the main drag and centrally located for his clients, New Richmond was more affordable than the Twin Cities. Being able to afford more space was important to Krauss because he has plans to offer clothing down the road and also provide floor and wall space for local artists to display their work.

"I want to turn the front of the shop into a home base exhibit space for smaller name local artists to gain some exposure. I'd like to try to keep it open ended so it's not tied to one theme. Tattooing is the core of my business so I don't need to make money off of other people's work. I'd like to keep the commissions low so the artists themselves are seeing most of the profits," explained Krauss.

"Finding a name for the shop was driving me crazy forever. I felt like the name would establish the overall look and character of the shop. I wanted it to be brandable, something I could put on tee shirts and hats. People say tattoos are addictive. You go home and you're immediately thinking about the next one. InkJunki fit," said Krauss.

Krauss got his start in the industry at Needle Richard's in Hammond when he was 14. As shop boy, he started by keeping the shop clean eventually working his way up to setups and putting prints on people, everything but the actual tattooing.

"I actually did my first couple of tattoos there, practicing on the owners and friends. At 18, I went across the river to Zap's where I worked until I decided to open InkJunki," said Krauss.

Madaris comes from a medical background working in the cath lab at Regions Hospital where he stills works. He started doing piercing on the side but enjoyed it enough to make it into more than a hobby. So when the opportunity to join Krauss presented itself, he was all in.

Like a lot of tattoo artists, Krauss grew up drawing and painting. Tattooing provided a way for him to bring his art to life while also providing a way to pay the rent.

"It was an easy way to do what I love to do," said Krauss.

He characterizes his work as black and white realism, but he credits his experience at Zap's, more of a street shop, for broadening his repertoire to include a wide range of art. Krauss uses both coil and rotary machines to execute his designs preferring to use the coil for outlines and the rotary for shading and color.

Being a tattoo artist is a little like being someone's hairdresser. Spending up to four hours dishing out controlled pain to help someone realize their vision tends to draw people together. Whether those relationships rise to the level of confessions, Krauss respectfully wouldn't share, but it does make for loyal clients who have been willing to travel more than an hour and half to continue their ink with him.

"With ongoing pieces, you might sit there together for four hours-plus and then you come back a couple weeks later and you do the same thing. A lot of your clients become more like your friends in a way," said Krauss.

Surprisingly, most of Krauss' customers are women.

"Tattooing used to be associated with the military or bikers. Today, my client base is probably 80 percent or more women and a lot of them are younger. Eighteen-year-old girls are the ones getting half sleeves for their first tattoo. Today a tattoo is an accessory, something to show off, something to be proud of," said Krauss.

Clients typically bring ideas with them, photos from magazines, things they've seen online or work they are already wearing. Krause works with them to build on those ideas to arrive at a custom piece of art that stands alone or marries with an existing design.

"For larger pieces, there's a lot of back and forth, but once they understand my style, they trust me and let me do what I want," said Krauss.

Krauss is careful to point out that it is both unethical and illegal to tattoo people under the influence. At the same time he supports people's First Amendment right to express themselves, but he draws the line at ideas in poor taste because he doesn't want his name as an artist associated with poor decisions. Krauss is licensed through the health department but adheres to the higher standards he grew accustomed to in Minnesota. Wisconsin requires folks to be 18 to get a tattoo or piercing, 16 for a piercing with a parent's consent. The rule does not apply to ear piercings.

"I expect my business to be pretty well-rounded, a little bit of everything like at my last shop. I usually don't take a ton of walk-in tattoos because I'm usually booked, but since we've been at this location, we've had way more people walk in off the street than I thought we would. After the grand opening and we've been open for a little bit, I hope to hire another artist or two," said Krauss.

"Piercing is more of a walk-in thing. It really only takes 10 to 20 minutes, so people wouldn't have too long of a wait. New Richmond's really growing with new businesses popping up everywhere, so I think business will really pick up in the summer," added Madaris.

The shop will be open 11 a.m. - 10 p.m Thursday through Sunday; Tuesdays, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.; and closed on Wednesdays.

Exhibiting artists can expect the shop to keep a 20 percent commission on sales. Anyone interested in displaying their work is encouraged to stop in with their portfolio.

Inkjunki's Grand Opening is scheduled for March 3-5. For more information, call 715-246-4111 or visit online at facebook.com/inkjunkillc.

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