Tattoo artists come and go, and once in a while, someone comes along that makes the world sit up and take notice of their artistry. But rarely can one find a tattoo shop that has withstood the test of time, which is why Tattoo Ole, the oldest tattoo parlor in the world, holds a special place in the hearts of ink enthusiasts. The shop located in Nyhavn, Copenhagen has been around for 134 years, and every year, tattoo aficionados from all over the world make the pilgrimage to this historic landmark. But despite its iconic status, the Tattoo Ole may cease its operations as the shop is in danger of being closed down. The good news is that thousands of tattoo fans are gearing up as they find ways to keep the Tattoo Ole open in a bid to preserve the colorful history and legacy of this shop.
From Sailors To Royalty–The Tattoo Ole’s History Of Diverse Clients
The Tattoo Ole has been open since 1884 and back in the day, its main clients included mostly sailors and prostitutes. For almost a century, it was the only place where a person could get inked in Scandinavia, and over the years, the shop was owned by different tattoo artists. By the 50’s and 60’s, the shop was run by artist Bimbo, and one of his customers was King Frederik IX, who was the King of Denmark from 1947 to 1972. Since then, Tattoo Ole has attracted celebrities, tattoo fans, and artists who are more than happy to get inked at this institution.
The shop is currently owned by Majbritt “Lille Ole” Petersen, who is the first female owner of the Tattoo Ole throughout its history. While Petersen’s ownership of the studio marks another important milestone for the shop, the artist is currently on an important mission as she fights to keep Tattoo Ole open.
Preserving The Tattoo Ole’s Legacy
Speaking with The Local, Petersen said that the owner of the building wherein the studio is located has declined to renew the studio’s lease. The artist added that the owner of the Nyhavn 17 building is planning to convert the studio into extra kitchen space for a restaurant that operates on another floor of the building.
Petersen is not giving up without a fight as she is contesting the owner’s decision to terminate the studio’s lease. Meanwhile, an online petition to keep the Tattoo Ole open has gotten over 10,000 signatures from tattoo enthusiasts all over the world. Thousands have expressed their outrage over the building owner’s plans, with one commenter saying on the petition site that the Tattoo Ole is irreplaceable and that its history should be respected.
“Restaurants can be found on every street corner in Copenhagen,” said commenter Denise Bennett. “The city’s history is hard to keep in this modern age.”
Keeping Tattoo Ole’s Tradition Alive
As of the moment, the Tattoo Ole remains open as the fate of this iconic studio has yet to be decided. Petersen is determined to keep the shop open as its history not only connects fans of body art, but all the tattoo artists who owned the studio before her.
“Everyone who has had this shop is not family related, but everyone has worked together,” said the artist. She also pointed out that people have come to the studio for generations as they find the place to be familiar and comforting.
“We’ve tattooed grandparents and then the parents and then the kids when they get old,” said Petersen.
Tattoo Ole’s rich history may be the key to save the shop from closing its doors for good. For now, Petersen and tattoo fans are hoping for the best as they continue the fight to save the oldest tattoo parlor in the world.
Resources & Further Reading:
1. Inside the World’s Oldest Tattoo Shop, The Local, https://www.thelocal.dk/20170904/worlds-oldest-tattoo-shop-copenhagen-nyhavn
2. Saving The World’s Oldest Tattoo Studio, Tattoo Life, https://www.tattoolife.com/saving-the-worlds-oldest-tattoo-studio/
3. Save The World’s Oldest Tattoo Shop, iPetitions, https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/save-the-worlds-oldest-tattoo-shop