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Readers share their Northland ink

Mike Carlsen, St. Paul Park, Minn.

• Tattoo artist: Aaron Armstrong

• Location: Lady Liberty Tattoo, St. Paul Park, Minn.

I grew up in Duluth and have always had a connection with the north woods. I am a hunter and fisherman, and I wanted my daughter to have a connection with the outdoors, so we gave her the middle name Juniper — hence the pine trees. The bear is because my wife and I call her our little bear cub. And her name is Quinn, so Quinny the pooh, Winnie the Pooh, Quinny bear.

Mike Carlsen

Megan Cassar, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: Mike Rosendahl

• Location: Benchmark Tattoo, Duluth

Perfect way to show off my family's love for agates. On walks with my three boys (ages 9, 8, 5), we spot them. It's usually wherever we are, we look.

Megan Cassar


Jim Davis, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: Kyle Grover

• Location: Benchmark Tattoo, Duluth

I love the state of Minnesota. I'm a photographer, and the camera is my new camera. My 9-year-old daughter and I love the lakeshore and hunting for agates.

Jim Davis

Aiden Elder, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: Erica Kachinske

• Location: Benchmark Tattoo, Duluth

My sister Megan and I both went to get sister tattoos (she got Lake Superior and I just got Minnesota). I decided to get the outline of Minnesota, but the border not being a harsh line. Instead I asked for them to make it dotted, which looked fantastic in the end. Minnesota is my state; it's where my grandma passed away, and it's where I'm going to stay.

Aiden Elder

Alexandra Hilterbrand, Ely

• Tattoo artist: Josh

• Location: Living Art Studio, Duluth

Whenever I think of home and the north woods, I think of the northern lights and how lucky I have been to see them so often.

Alexandra Hilterbrand

Steffan Immerfall, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: Jaime

• Location: True Colors Tattoo, Superior

I have two lighthouse tattoos on my shins. Each has a banner under it saying "guide me" and "on this" to guide my steps through life safely just as a lighthouse guides a ship through the fog of uncertainty. One of the lighthouses is Split Rock, which fit in with the theme of the tattoo idea.

Steffan Immerfall

Megan Jordan, Longville, Minn.

• Tattoo artist: Josh Crotty

• Location: Living Art Studio, Duluth

I grew up about 120 miles west of Duluth and have many memories of the North Shore. I lived in Duluth for 10 years and spent afternoons and trips along the shores of the lake. I love to travel. I have a touch of a gypsy soul having lived in Spain, Minnesota and Texas over the last several years. The coordinates are for my parents' house, and they still live in the house that I grew up in. Travel. See. Explore. But always know where you came from.

Megan Jordan

Ruth Knezevich, Minneapolis

• Tattoo artist: Jay Kettelhut

• Location: Anchors End Tattoo, Duluth

I was born and raised in Duluth. The landscape and culture made a big impact on me. When I moved away from Duluth, I got this tattoo to carry an iconic piece of my home with me.

This tattoo has prompted many conversations in my travels around the U.S. and abroad. More often than not, the conversations conclude with, "Wow, there must be something really special about Duluth." Yes, yes there is.

Ruth Knezevich

Maycie Larson, San Antonio

• Tattoo artist: Josh Kirkpatrick

• Location: Living Art Studio, Duluth

The summer before my sophomore year of high school (I am now headed into my junior year of college), my best friend moved to Pennsylvania. In January 2016, she came to visit, and we had decided we would get matching Lake Superior tattoos! It's a reminder that home is where the lake is, while also being a wonderful reminder of the friendship we share, no matter how many miles separate us! We got them done at the Living Art Studio by the Portland Malt Shoppe, and while we were getting them done, we actually had a view of Lake Superior right out the window.

Maycie Larson

Rory MacDonald, Toronto

• Tattoo artist: Andy

• Location: Anchors End Tattoo, Duluth

My tattoo is an anchor made out of the Duluth lift bridge with an ore boat coming through it with some waves and a "dad" banner and a cross on the top of the anchor. My father was born and raised in Duluth, and I spent many summer months visiting family there. When deciding on meaningful tattoos, I knew something from Minnesota for my father would be a good fit. My dad worked on the ore boats when he was young, and the coloring is based on the boat that my great-uncle (who piloted the William A. Irvin into the Duluth harbor for the last time) worked on the most.

Rory MacDonald

Benjamin Plante, Winston-Salem, N.C.

• Tattoo artist: Kyle Grover

• Location: Benchmark Tattoo, Duluth

Wanting something that reminded me of home (but not an outline of the state), I recalled a recent trip to San Francisco, where I saw a young man walking down the street with an outline of Lake Superior on his forearm. Seeing his tattoo, I was excited to remember "home." It started me thinking on how much growing up in Duluth with that Great Lake right outside my door meant to me. Even though I didn't know this person, I knew what that obscure tattoo was and had to assume he also appreciated Lake Superior enough to brand himself with it. Now not living near the lake, whenever someone asks what that tattoo is, I take every opportunity to school them on its wonder.

 Benjamin Plante

Tyler Schwanke, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: n/a

• Location: Anchors End Tattoo, Duluth

One Friday evening in the late winter after a long day of snowboarding at Spirit Mountain with friends, the four us were talking about our love for living here. We were having a beer and making supper when one of the four of us blurted out a joke about getting a tattoo tomorrow. I quickly jumped on it, turning the joke into a mission. We all concluded that we would get a tattoo commemorating our love for the North Shore. I ended up getting Lake Superior with a pirate ship on course to Duluth. The tattoo signified the journey of coming to Duluth and finding freedom on the North Shore, that Duluth and the surrounding area was a safe harbor.

Tyler Schwanke

Stephanie Sklors, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: Jay

• Location: Anchors End Tattoo, Duluth

My tattoo was inspired for my love of northern Minnesota and Duluth. I'm born and raised in Eveleth and have spent my adult years in Duluth. The 218 tattoo stands for the northeastern area code. Each number represents important times in my life:

• 2 symbolizes the north woods of Minnesota and my love for the outdoors.

• 1 is Enger Tower, which is where I married the love of my life, my wife, Nicole. We got married there on June 1, 2016, for a breathtaking ceremony, overlooking our new city.

• 8, the Aerial Lift Bridge is the iconic picture of Duluth. We're all tourists come to witness this impressive bridge. I have spent countless hours and days down in Canal Park during my college days and my adult days with friends and family. There have been many memories and conversations sitting on the bench or strolling on the Lakewalk absorbing all of Duluth's beauty and uniqueness.

Stephanie Sklors

Jake Stainbrook, Minneapolis

• Tattoo artist: Dane Vocelka

• Location: True North Tattoo Co., Cloquet

I have a full sleeve of a Duluth lift bridge tattoo transitioning into the Minneapolis Skyline, featuring Spirit Mountain in the background on my back elbow. It also features the northern lights, the lighthouse and a boat in the harbor of Lake Superior. I was born and raised in small town Esko, and graduated from UMD a couple of years ago. Duluth has always been a huge part of my life, but I am definitely a big cities person, where I now live.

Jake Stainbrook

Lars Waldner, Duluth

• Tattoo artist: Peter Mcleod (Minnesota outline)

• Location: Scottish Rose Tattoo, Fridley, Minn.

I was hanging out at Valley Fair in the summer of '95 with a few friends, and one joked to another on the water slides, "We should get tattoos!" Not realizing they were joking to each other, I got way into the idea. We went and got the flower done that evening for around $20. One of the guys got his covered a few years later. I was lucky enough to have a friend from Duluth Central High School who offered the line work of Minnesota for free around my original tattoo. He is a professional now in the Cities. The other guy who got the tattoo with us that night still has the same untouched tattoo on his shoulder, unadulterated and exactly the same as it looked that August night over 20 years ago. We've remained the best of friends since 1986.

Lars Waldner