Austin inks new tattoo parlor

Published 10:31 am Thursday, March 5, 2009

On the front window of Holly Lewno’s new business is a hand-scrawled sign that reads: “No Drunks, No Kids, Cash Only.”

“I love kids,” said Lewno, the mother of a 17-month-old. “There’s just too many things I don’t want them to touch.”

The Austin native has opened a new business in her hometown so she can put her talent on canvass — the human body.

Email newsletter signup

Lewno’s first customer at Rite of Passage Tattoo was Saturday. She is currently the only employee.

“Putting a piece of artwork on someone’s body is like putting a piece of me on there,” she said.

“I’ve been an artist all my life.”

The tattoo parlor opened in the same location as A-town Tattoo, which closed after owner Jason Reinartz was charged with drug trafficking from his home.

Lewno said although she was an employee there, she has no connections to the business and simply wants to continue to operate the only tattoo shop in Austin.

She said business has been booming since the first day, and anticipates it to pick up even more this spring.

“I’ve had really great feedback,” she said.

An Austin High School graduate, Lewno moved around for several years, and had her tattooing apprenticeship at Thee Dragon’s Lair in Owatonna. She returned to Austin to raise her son near family.

Lewno said she has no design specialty, but likes to do color work.

“A lot of people come in asking for fairies,” she said.

Lewno said she hasn’t had so many odd tattoo design requests, just where to put them on the body, like male genitalia.

“That’s just not my thing,” she said with a laugh.

She said many customers coming in are first-timers, and pointed out that Austin does have an older demographic, perhaps one reason why the city has only one tattoo shop.

“I have a blast doing first-time tattoos,” she said.

Tattoos start at $50 and up. Tattoo design books are available; Lewno will tattoo customer’s designs as well as her own.

Rite of Passage Tattoo is located at 714 1/2 Fourth Ave. N.E. Hours are noon to close, Tuesday through Saturday. To schedule an appointment, call (507) 355-1937.