FARGO - Rob Thompson and RikiLynn Boatright may not be tattoo artists, but they’ve turned it into their line of business.

The pair own and operate Inksterz Tattoo Studio at 1114 Main Ave.

Tattoos aren’t generally considered a “family activity,” but it was family and friends who helped Thompson and Boatright turn their half of the former Teamsters building into an inviting place to get some ink.

 Inksterz Tattoo Studio is open at 1114 Main Ave. in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Inksterz Tattoo Studio is open at 1114 Main Ave. in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

In the run-up to opening last fall, they both fell ill with COVID-19, which Thompson described as “eight days of torture.”

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While the couple was sidelined, their kin and friends built walls and rehabbed the building, creating private tattooing and piercing rooms.

“All of this was wide open,” Thompson said. “We wouldn’t have been able to make it without their help.”

The first day of business was Nov. 19, 2020.

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Inksterz’s artists are Nate “Deadeye N8” and Ellie “Hurricane Elaine” McConnell.

Dead Eye N8 shows his rotary tattoo machine in his work room at Inksterz in downtown Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum
Dead Eye N8 shows his rotary tattoo machine in his work room at Inksterz in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Nate, who goes by his professional name, Deadeye N8, previously owned Old Crow Tattoo Co., in Fergus Falls, Minn. He specializes in traditional, new school, black and gray, color, cover-ups and re-works, and custom tattooing.

McConnell started her tattoo and piercing journey as an apprentice in Studio 13 near Austin, Texas, in 2009. She describes her style as neo-traditional meets art nouveau. She started at Inksterz in March, and does piercings, too.

Ellie "Hurricane Elaine" McConnell is seen in her workspace at Inksterz in downtown Fargo.
David Samson / The Forum
Ellie "Hurricane Elaine" McConnell is seen in her workspace at Inksterz in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Thompson and Boatright, who are engaged, share a love of tattoos - they each have 13.

He’s had several roles in the trucking industry over 26 years, and now is driving a truck. She’s an apartment building manager. They also share an entrepreneurial streak.

When talking about their own tattoo shop, they wanted it to be welcoming and inviting. For example, the tattoo and piercing rooms each have doors for privacy for those who wish it.

Since some people bring children along for a tattoo appointment, they wanted to foster a family feel, with art on the walls, snacks, and comfortable furniture. A TV and PlayStation hook-up are planned.

In addition, children can get temporary tattoos.

“(We) make it a big deal for them. Just to make the kids feel like they’re getting something, too,” Thompson said.

Tattoo artwork hangs on the walls at Inksterz in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum
Tattoo artwork hangs on the walls at Inksterz in downtown Fargo. David Samson / The Forum

Inksterz does have some shop rules:

  • No tattoo names of significant others, “because more often than not, it’s more like a curse,” Thompson said. “We just fixed one of those. We had a customer come in and wanted to get the name of that ‘bleep’ off his chest. … Nate did a cover-up for him. He got a black rose instead.”

  • No tattoos of drugs or drug paraphernalia.

Boatright said Inksterz emphasizes health precautions, including temperature checks at the front desk, and using face masks and hand sanitizer.

Danielle Kelley is one of the receptionists at Inksterz Tattoo Studio at 1114 Main Ave., Fargo. "I love tattoos and I love piercings," she said Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
Danielle Kelley is one of the receptionists at Inksterz Tattoo Studio at 1114 Main Ave., Fargo. "I love tattoos and I love piercings," she said Wednesday, April 28, 2021. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

Tattoos are generally by appointment, much of that due to the pandemic, but they also take some walk-ins.

For more information, go online to inksterztattoostudio.com.