Nestled next to Thai Spice on Third Street in downtown is a new tattoo studio, Sagebrush Tattoo, which is aiming to combine tattooing and the broader Laramie art scene.
A tattoo artist with 13 years of experience, studio owner Garth Wessel said he loves almost everything about being a tattoo artist. He knew he wanted to start a career in tattooing when he was 14 years old and started working to build a portfolio until he was 18 and could start an apprenticeship.
After years of meeting folks and creating art on their skin, he considers himself almost an “an unofficial sociologist of sorts.”
“I like the diversity of people that I get to meet and connect with,” Wessel added. “I get to learn about different cultures and human nature itself.”
More than just a tattoo artist, Wessel said he has been creating art in general for as long as he can remember, and not just on skin. He said his latest favorite medium has been to use colored pencils and learning to paint with acrylic paint, something he’s not quite used to yet.
“First and foremost, I am an artist, which is probably a little different than some tattoo artists,” Wessel said.
Understandably, art is a major part of Wessel’s life and one of the many reasons he moved from South Dakota to Laramie. Between the outdoor recreation opportunities and the nearby university for his wife to continue her degree path, Wessel said Laramie is “absolutely the perfect fit.”
“My wife and I were looking at somewhere that fit our ideals,” he said. “She found a great Ph.D. program at the university here, and I really like the arts culture here. It’s a very artsy community, which is very important to me.”
He added he loves being a part of a vibrant downtown with plenty of activities and friendly people.
Although he just opened the doors about two weeks ago, Wessel said he already has big plans for the future of the studio. Wanting to contribute to the overall art scene that made him fall in love with Laramie, he has plans to integrate art beyond tattooing.
“Eventually, I want to end up using my abundance of wall space to host local artists and set up a little gallery,” he said. “I would also eventually like to incorporate either a weekly or monthly art night type of thing, where the community can come and create.”
He also has considered hosting a regular workshop or art space where community members can “come and create.”
“Ideally, I would provide all of the supplies and everything and have it as just a free fun art night for people,” Wessel said.
Wessel also plans to display his art during Laramie Public Art Coalition’s Pop Up Art Walk event downtown Sept. 6-8.