New tattoo studio opens in downtown Duluth

House of Pain Tattoo and Piercing welcomes walk-ins and specializes in custom, memorial and cover-up tattoos.

Man making a tattoo design.
House of Pain assistant manager Jamien Claude watches as manager Devon Egge works on a tattoo design in the shop Thursday.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — House of Pain Tattoo and Piercing , owned by Alex Pelgrem, opened in October at 21 N. Fourth Ave. W.

Welcome to walk-ins, the new body art shop offers portrait, graffiti and new school realism styles for adults seeking their first tattoo, tattoo therapy, custom pieces, memorial or cover-up tattoos.

"It's all about the expressionism that people are putting on their skin, and I want them to be able to get the most out of it," assistant manager Jamien Claude said. "That's the only way we can get this culture to grow is for people to get what they truly want or more. We're trying to be a shop that offers a fun experience, send out good quality work and hope that people come back for more."

A tattoo stencil.
A tattoo stencil at House of Pain. Stencils are used to transfer a tattoo design onto a client’s skin to guide the artist.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Boxes of supplies near a tattoo poster.
Gloves, alcohol pads and cleaning supplies at House of Pain.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Specialized services such as piercing are referred to other local body modification artists since there is not a body piercer on staff. According to the Minnesota Department of Health , manager Devon Egge is the only fully licensed tattooist at the shop. Claude said the other employees are pursuing their temporary tattoo licenses.

Claude has been in the tattoo industry for 25 years, working at a variety of shops and expos throughout his career. At first, Claude began tattooing using hand-built equipment with coils, rotaries and a foot pedal. The modern tattoo equipment he now uses is cordless.


Man holds a tattoo machine.
House of Pain assistant manager Jamien Claude holds the parts of a wireless tattoo machine Thursday while talking about being a tattoo artist.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

From a young age, his passion for artwork had left traces of his drawings on everything from paper to bar tables and eventually, skin. Among his most meaningful pieces was done during a breast cancer awareness convention, where Claude tattooed nipples onto a survivor who underwent a double-mastectomy.

Bottles of tattoo ink.
Bottles of tattoo ink at House of Pain.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Tattoo artist poster.
A poster with a handwritten note hangs in House of Pain.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

"I have never been held so tightly. It was like I gave this woman a whole new body," he said. "You get to know people's lives. It's personal and takes a lot of trust, empathy and compassion. When people come in here, we want them to that whatever they have going on in life, whatever the tattoo is for, we hold no judgments.

"We're not here to be judgmental. We're here to listen to what the meaning of this tattoo is to put this beautiful piece of artwork on you and to send you out the door with your new favorite piece."

Egge added: "'Your tattoo artist is your therapist' is a saying we take very seriously."

Consultations are free, and there is a $50 booking fee for scheduled appointments. Call 218-340-3838 to schedule an appointment.

The fire, smoke and heat caused an estimated $10,000 in damages to the building, plus $75,000 to interior contents. No one was injured.

Brielle Bredsten is the business reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.

She earned a bachelor's degree in Professional Writing & Technical Communication, with minors in Advertising and Creative Writing from Metropolitan State University, in addition to a two-year professional paid internship as reporter/editor of the student newspaper.

She is an award-winning professional writer, photographer and editor based in rural Minnesota. Over the past decade, Brielle Bredsten has contributed more than 1,000 articles, feature stories, non-profit press-releases, photographs and columns. Her work has been published in several community newspapers.

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