Lora Bird knows traditional tattoo parlors can breed intimidating atmospheres, which is why she founded Nest Art Collective in 2021 to combat just that. Her Wheat Ridge tattoo and art shop was built upon pillars of inclusivity and accessibility, making it a staple for Denver’s growing and diverse ink community. Today, Nest offers a curated retail space in its lobby featuring a variety of unique products from local makers.
Creating Nest Art Collective
Bird has been a tattoo artist for four years now. She left the first parlor that she worked at because it didn’t fit her personality. She went on to rent a small suite in a salon to start her own tattoo business, Honest Bird. Although, this was only the start of Bird’s business endeavors. “It took me about three weeks in that space to start to dream of more,” she said.
Bird wanted to build a “queer, trauma-informed, safe space for people to come in and feel really at home while they experience the magic of tattooing,” she said. Her ideal shop provided an inclusive space for local artists to display their work and gather to make art together. Nest Art Collective brings all of those ideas to life within the space.
“Nest is truly a collective, in the sense that the people who work here also take care of the space like they would a family member. The space is a living embodiment of making the uncomfortable process of getting a tattoo as comfortable as possible,” she said.
Opening The Doors
Bird started out with an idea in mind and took it to the next level by making that idea a reality. She started out by integrating the basics of what the health department looks for in body art spaces. “Safety is always the number one priority, it’s easy to forget that tattooing is kind of a medical procedure that involves blood and biohazard, but it’s always my number one concern,” she said.
It took about five months until she found a space she loved, signed a lease, and found a contractor. Her contractor, friends and family helped her with all of the work inside the shop to bring her vision to life. Bird obtained grants through a client to help her with her business. With her grants and her savings, she opened Nest Art Collective by herself and without a loan from the bank.
Inside Nest Art Collective
Nest Art Collective offers insightful tattooing, but they also carry a variety of products as well. Brother and sister duo and owners of Horrid Magazine, Emerald and Jake Boes, sell their magazine and their own apparel in the Nest lobby and on their website. The space is also home to Kelsee Ross’ Sage & Spirits, a collection of pieces including witchcraft, jewelry and tooth gems.
There are four pottery and ceramics lines at Nest Art Collective as well. Bananafund is a brand of ceramics created by Kelly Angryberger. The brand sells ceramic mugs, pots, jewelry and many more fun and perfectly curated products. Local jeweler, designer and illustrator Shea The Maker also sells pots, vases, mugs and planters with unique designs and some pops of color in Nest.
Jessica Smith Old Habit Pottery creates all kinds of pottery, including pieces made in solid colors and some with intricate designs. RAEREU, created by Rachael Reuter, is another ceramics brand that creates handmade artful pieces with beautiful coloring.
Sky Welkin is a cartoonist that draws and paints cartoons and sells them in Nest Art Collective and on her website. Welkin turns cartoons into HomeGoods, drawings that can be sold, paintings, accessories, prints and mixed media.
Little Piney Glass created by Becca Mullen offers blown glass in a variety of different products. The brand uses unique colors and beautiful designs to create vases, bowls, paperweights and many other beautiful pieces.
Josie Page’s My Pocket of Sunshine is a clothing brand in Nest Art Collective. The brand was made to spread awareness about mental health. A portion of the profits is donated to Mental Health America and National Suicide Lifeline.
Being A Girl Is Hardcore created by Jessica Day, is a company dedicated to providing resources and support for everyone to feel safe in the music scene. They sell stickers and buttons at Nest Art Collective.
Specialties and Artists
Bird takes pride in her business and wants all her artists to strive in their environment. The lobby theme of the space is, “spooky, witchy, grandma’s living room vibes,” she said. However, the spaces of each artist’s area are curated to reflect their own personality. Transforming the shop into something that reflects those who make Nest run encapsulates Bird’s vision for her business.
Every artist has their own specialties, but Bird’s specialty is “woodcut blackwork, illustrative linework, fine line traditional and ignorant style tattoos,” she said. Each artist has a very unique and distinct style of tattooing and is very passionate about what they do.
Trauma-Informed and Inclusive Tattooing
Inclusivity and safety are Nest Art Collectives’ top priorities when it comes to tattooing. They pride themselves on being a space that is accessible and meets every person’s emotional needs. They treat all their clients that walk through the doors with dignity and respect.
“Your idea isn’t stupid, your body is perfect the way it is, and you deserve to have your accommodations met and your pronouns respected,” Bird added.
Trauma-informed tattooing is what all the artists at Nest prioritize when taking clients. They have all undergone training to be aware of different types of traumas, what that can mean for the person who experienced them, and how the artists can create a safe space for all their clients.
“Every client that walks through our door has had something traumatic happen in their life, big or small, and we love to respect and honor that. We see people who are celebrating sobriety, mourning a loss, reclaiming their body after ED or SA, or have experienced racism or discrimination in tattooing. We recognize the healing power of tattooing,” she said.
The artists at Nest Art Collective take measures to ensure that clients are in control of their pain and are as comfortable as possible. They encourage clients to ask questions and continue to ensure that they are giving enthusiastic consent during the tattoo experience.
“We strive to make sure clients know they’re safe and protected in a vulnerable experience from the moment they walk in,” Bird said.
The Future of Nest Art Collective
Bird opened Nest Art Collective to create an environment that is inclusive and accepting of every single person. She and all of her artists are highly trained in trauma-informed tattooing and want their clients to feel as comfortable as possible.
Nest Art Collective is looking to expand into the empty space next door and add more artists to the business.
“We are going to push forward supporting femme and queer artists, helping the community when we can, and taking care of each other while we make good art,” she said.
Artists and Apprentices at Nest Art Collective:
All photography by Adrienne Thomas.