To Top

Meet Katie Grinstead Z of Fallen Owl Tattoo in Lakewood

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katie Grinstead Z.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Katie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After graduating high school in 2002 in a tiny farm town in southern Colorado, I made my way north to Greeley. I had a scholarship to the Monfort Business School at UNC, but all 18 years of my life experience knew business wasn’t my calling–I wanted to write or somehow create. Before the semester began, my then boyfriend wanted to pay for me to get my second tattoo as an early Xmas gift. The tattoo artist, Chris Henry, was a rad m’effer and led me to apply for a piercing apprenticeship at that tattoo shop. Not thinking that an 18-year-old, long-haired, Beatles crop top & cut off Dickies with a wallet chain wearing, hippie skater punk girl would ever get hired, I applied anyway. Sure as shit, they hired me!! I declined the scholarship and never went to college. Talk about a very awkward phone call to my parents. “So…I’m not going to college after all. I’m gonna work in a tattoo shop.” You can imagine how the rest of that conversation went.

Fast forward seven years to 2010. Those years included building a great shop crew, having a child, and starting my tattoo apprenticeship. My three best friends and coworkers (Chris, Mez, and Deanna) and I talked for years about packing up and trying a California adventure. In July 2010, those three friends, which include my original tattoo artist and still best friend, Chris Henry, opened up Tattoo Boogaloo in San Francisco. I followed them out six months later and lived in the Bay Area for nearly a decade. Those years are chalk full of high times, hard times, amazing new friendships, and building a successful tattoo shop in the best neighborhood in SF–North Beach!! There are now 6 of us Boogaloos and we are like siblings, which is why I still fly out to SF to work about every other month or so. I can’t go without my Boogaloo crew and North Beach friends for very long!

Finding a home at Fallen Owl here in Lakewood has been like a dream. I’ve been friends with FO owner, Adam Rose, for years as well as resident artist and badass Heather Reynolds. The rest of the crew there has been very welcoming with their next level shit-talking and nonstop joking. How else do you show real friend love, am I right? Adam has actually done guest spots at Boogaloo and joined in our SF debauchery for many years!

Having two amazing crews to work with and learn from is more than I could have ever asked for. I get to be a full-time Mama to my 2 rad daughters, be close to my huge family again, AND be an artist. I’m not sure what I did to deserve all of this, but I do know that 16 years of hard work has been worth it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Being an independent contractor and your own boss has many perks like making your own hours, taking vacations without paperwork, and setting your own pay rate. Throughout my 16 years in the body art industry, I’ve gone from sleeping in my car to couch surfing, from renting some friends’ house for whatever I could afford to staying in a ridiculously dope five-bedroom house. I’ve gone from taking three-week vacations with no worry to owing the IRS thousands of dollars. The one sure thing about tattooing is: if you don’t have any clients, you don’t make any money, so you have to work your ass off to live.

Please tell us about Fallen Owl Tattoo.
Being a part of the eclectic crew at Fallen Owl is wonderful. I’m not the kind of tattooer who will only do this tattoo or that tattoo. I’ll do any tattoo that a client is willing to let me design uniquely for them. We as a whole at FO are artists, not replicating machines of other people’s artwork.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I wouldn’t change a damn thing.

Contact Info:

Suggest a story: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in