BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — At 23, tattoo artist Matt Lara was licensed and ready to work but a job he wanted didn't hire him. So he opened his own studio, Blasted Ink, located on University Avenue between North Herschel Street and Aldine Street in St. Paul.
Now seven years later, Lara works alongside a talented team and figures it's time for more growth. This week, Lara signed paperwork to bring Blasted Ink to the Mall of America with a tentative opening date of May 1. A mall spokesperson confirms it will be the mall's first tattoo tenant since opening in 1992.
"One of the happiest days of my life, I would say," Lara said. "Just talking with them back and forth and then them making me feel comfortable that they want something like that in the Mall of America."
They'd been talking about it for years. For one, the pandemic slowed things down. Then there were the various approvals he needed to get.
"I'm going through like the City of Bloomington … the Health Department," Lara said.
It's historic in more ways than one. Lara is a Black business owner. He says the Twin Cities-area tattoo industry isn't diverse.
"A lot of people are scared to tat Black people," Lara said. "I'm going to be totally honest, just with the melanin that we have in our skin. But I feel comfortable tatting my people."
Of course, his business is open to all people no matter their skin color. In fact, some of the Blasted Ink artists are not Black. But knowing how to work ink into different skin tones could bring in more customers; and being at the Mall of America, Lara says he's expecting a lot of walk-ins.
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