Science of Art: Algorithm Tattoo opens up shop in Austin

Published 7:01 am Saturday, April 3, 2021

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Braiden Wade Nelson and crew are taking the scientific method to Nelson’s tattoo shop, Algorithm Tattoo, which opened in January.

“I wanted to keep it one word,” Nelson said from the waiting room of the new shop — a renovated auto body shop that gives the entire set up a unique feel from the very moment you enter. “An algorithm is a computer process, a step-by-step process to do something. Here, it’s a step-by-step procedure.”

Algorithm Tattoo is a shop of three artists that includes Nelson, Austin native Tanner Johnson and Adams native Sabryna Hansen. Nate Toney has been hired to manage the shop on the business end.

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For Nelson, opening his own shop is part of a long journey that began in his teens. The art enthusiast was introduced to the world of tattoos at an early age when his brother gave him a coil machine.

However, the idea of going into tattooing seemed a ways away. Yet at the same time, the move made sense.

“I think most tattoo artists are always interested in art before tattooing,” Nelson said before adding. “Tattooing always seemed like a far-fetched idea.”

Still, Nelson went on to apprentice with Ryan Health in Austin and then worked for Ivy’s Ink in Austin.

“I just kept moving up,” he said.

Eventually Nelson ended up with Steel Rhino in Albert Lea before opening Algorithm, an idea that has been sitting with him for a long time.

“I would say before I even started at Ivy’s Ink,” Nelson said. “I’ve talked about it forever and then everything fell into place. It was time to open my own shop.”

The shop is unique. The renovation played on the layout of the auto body shop, making use of the garage area to set up the work station for all three artists.

The waiting area has been completely revamped as well and even includes a special area for featured artists from the area complete with examples of their works.

Sabryna Hansen works on piece at Algorithm Tattoo Wednesday afternoon. Hansen is one of three artists at the shop that opened in January. Eric Johnson/

On shelves behind the front desk sits Algorithm merchandise as well as gear from local sellers, including Cannalids, Tat Wax and even hot sauce by Sam Sa’house.

“It was a complete remodel,” Nelson said. “All the floors are new, painted with gold flakes. Everything is trimmed and painted. We built a new wall behind my station.”

Nelson even hopes that at some point they could do something where they are able to open up the double doors during the summer, dependent of course on the Minnesota Department of Health and what they will allow.

But for the time being, Algorithm is simply focused on providing outstanding service and quality ink and Nelson fully believes he has the staff to do it.

“I couldn’t ask for a better group,” Nelson said. “We work really well together.”

Each artist brings a different feel to the pen. Nelson really enjoys black and grey realism and neotraditionlism while Johnson brings tattoos with bright colors and flare.

Hansen lends her talents to more of a gothic styling.

“Everybody has their own thing they are good at and interested in,” Nelson said.

All three combine to offer an experience that wants to ensure it has a hands-on experience with their customers.

“We really try to focus on doing original work,” Nelson said. “We recommend consultations so we know ahead of time that people are going to get what they want instead of on the fly.”

That’s not to say they don’t accept walk-ins, but prepare to wait if you do as the shop has seen a steady stream of business since opening at the beginning of the year.

“We constantly have people come in and out. It’s really busy,” Nelson said. “We’re excited to keep expanding.”

While the artists of Algorithm focus on making sure each customer is happy, Nelson has also taken steps to ensure the shop is a part of the community.

Since opening, it has joined the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce and invites other businesses to hang banners or other advertisements in its shop.

“We joined the chamber to be part of the community,” Nelson said. “I’m learning so much about being a business owner every day and it’s cool watching the community come together.”

This is reflected in the fact of just how busy all three artists are. Nelson himself has a calendar of books that stretches into August.

With everything stacking up in Algorithm’s favor, Nelson, Hansen, Johnson and Toney can focus on making sure each customer is getting exactly what they want in the best atmosphere possible.

“We’re just trying to be a friendly shop,” Nelson said. “Make sure you get the tattoo you are interested in.”

Algorithm Tattoo is located at 201 First Ave. SW and opens at noon. To contact them, head over to their Facebook page at and message them about a time in the chair.