For many, the process of inking signifies a transformation, a birth to a new self. However, traditional tattoo shops often breed an environment where the client is almost ashamed for exhibiting signs of pain.
Sandra Lin opened Disruptive Ink Tattoo Studio in Lakewood, Colorado to change the status quo. From covering self-harm scars to first responders and members of the LGBTQ+ community looking for a safe space, Disruptive Ink has seen clients from a huge variety of backgrounds. No matter the case, Lin’s team welcomes all who wish to undergo the sacred marking of one’s skin in both a friendly and compassionate setting entirely free of judgement.
Even with the rise of queer-owned tattoo parlors popping up across the country, Disruptive Ink is an anomaly in the world of permanent ink; it offers a “Reiki Ink” add-on to clients during their tattoo session. Ink-lovers have traveled as far as 700 miles to work with Lin and her on-site Reiki certified master, MateoLuis, who is also an American Sign Language interpreter — a clear sign on the impacts of the studio’s trailblazing efforts.
“As a deaf person, I’ve never heard of a shop that was as accessible as Disruptive Ink,” says Ashley Greene, a Texas native who visited Disruptive Ink to be tatted twice. She says that as a disabled person, she would show up to her appointments at other tattoo shops across the country only to encounter the same, reoccurring experience: zone out on Netflix, pay and leave. At Disruptive Ink, her experience was anything but strictly transactional.
While Lin let her art unleash on Greene’s skin, MateoLuis interpreted the scene while simultaneously conducting a Reiki session complete with breathwork and crystals. MateoLuis says his sessions are all-inclusive, meaning a client may encounter cards, breathwork and stones in addition to Reiki and other energy medicine tools depending on individual needs.
“Reiki works on the four bodies: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual,” Lin explains. “When we take this and apply it to the tattoo experience, we see some power-ful healing take place.”
Whatever the client’s past that brought them to her table, Lin says people are seeking a way to release, commemorate, honor, ritualize or mark something significant in their life. The touch of a tattoo needle can be healing for clients when the atmosphere is relaxed. By connecting with the four bodies, the tattoo experience turns inward, offering a new level of depth and meaning, as Lin puts it.
Photos Courtesy of Disruptive Ink Tattoo.
Originally published in Summer + Fall 2022 Issue.