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Walk into Black Ink in Castleton Place and you are immediately be struck by the size of the tattoo studio. On any given day, you will find as many as ten tattoo artists at work in large, well-equipped workspaces. Hip-hop music plays in the background with an uplifting beat. The artists too are upbeat, expressing unfailing positivity as they talk about their work and their clients.

“To be able to give someone something that makes them feel more body confident, just a popular piece of artwork, is a great feeling,” said Jessica Wallace as she meticulously etched a pattern on the forearm of Gavid Padgett. “People walking around with more confidence because of artwork that you did to them is a great feeling.”

For many Black Ink clients, their skin becomes a canvass on which to tell stories about their interesting lives. As Padgett watched Wallace painstakingly add dark blues and blacks to the underside of his forearm, though, he disputed the notion that every tattoo should be a statement. “Sometimes people say that when you get tattoos, that everything should mean something to you,” Padgett said firmly. “But, I think that you should live your life however you want to live it, and if you want to just put an artistic piece on your body then do it if that’s what you want to do!”

As Samuel “Biz” Sowell put bold lettering on Kenny Stringer’s arm reading “Remember Who You Are,” Kenny Stringer spoke about the importance of those words for his first-ever tattoo.

“This one just spoke to me because it’s about family,” he said quietly. “So, I finally decided to get it on my body.”

The owner of Black Ink uses only one name: Storm. He views tattoos as wholly life-changing.

“When they come here, they come and change their life,” he says firmly. “Because we change their skin. So, we put something on them that they’re going to carry with them forever and hopefully they love it.”

Black Ink Indianapolis is located at, 5892 E 82nd St, Indianapolis, IN 46250. Their phone number is 317-605-9120.