Say what you will about Douglas Eyer's eye for design but the interior of Thorn-Side Tattoo & Piercing is quite unique.
You could describe the 4202 Morningside Ave. shop as being "knotty pine with a whole bunch of needles" or, perhaps, "shiplap chic with a thumbs-up from a tatted-up Chip and Joanna Gaines."
"I think you could simply say the interior has a a pirate ship vibe to it," tattoo artist Haley McClure informed. "That was the look Doug was going for with this place."
This seems to square with Eyer's intent on giving Thorn-Side clients with an entirely new experience.
"We wanted to establish a shop where clients were guaranteed friendly service from experienced artists in a clean and professional environment," Eyer said.
Obviously, that's why Thorn-Side snatched up a first place finish in the Siouxland's Choice Awards Tattoo & Piercing Studio category.
Eyers' shop beat both Living Art Tattoo & Body Piercing (a perennial past winner who came in second place) as well as the third place Addictive Tattoo.
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Wait, can that be right? All three of the Siouxland's Choice tattoo joints are located within blocks from one another around Morningside's Peters Park?
It's all true, according to Eyer, a lifelong Morningside resident.
"When I was a kid, I used to ride my bike in this neighborhood," he remembered. "As soon as this storefront front opened up, I knew it would be perfect for my tattoo studio."
Which makes sense. Growing up, when Eyer wasn't riding his bike, he was drawing on himself.
"I think that's how most tattoo artists get their start," he said. "We'd draw on paper, on books as well as ourselves."
So, when did Eyer make his first attempt at pen-to-skin art?
"I was 6 years old and I recall my grandma wasn't happy that I was drawing on myself," he said with a smile.
Even at an early age, Eyer wanted to pursue art as an adult. Perhaps, that's why he started his career in construction.
"There is something nice about picturing something in your head and building it," Eyer said, noting that he and some of his construction buddies gave Thorn-Side its unique decor. "I think the same is true with body art."
Now, after more than 10 years of experience, Eyer has seen the world of tattoos swing from being something outlaw to an art with more mainstream appeal.
At Thorn-Side, he and a team of artists and apprentices are applying their vision on a fleshy sort of canvas.