We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayden Welch Tattoo Artist & Studio Owner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Hayden Welch, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I first started tattooing a little over ten years ago, I worked for a few different shops under some people who made me feel really unsafe. It’s no secret that the tattoo industry has some serious amends to make for the way it has treated folks historically. I learned the hard way about being a female in such a male-dominated industry, one that had no real rules or accountability measures. Tattooing has been a craft saturated in big egos and machismo for a long time and I was exhausted by it, frankly.
Opening my own studio was, at first, a way to make myself safe from some of those early predatory environments. It was healing as much as it was challenging. It meant I was in charge of myself, that I made myself and my clients safe, but it really grew into something more than that. I wanted Hinterland to be a place outside of mainstream tattooing that could be intentional, comfort-oriented, and respectful of boundaries.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think the thing that sets myself and the studio apart from others actually has very little to do with my art form. My love of illustration, of tattoo as an old-world craft, my hope that I might have the freedom to explore my artistic curiosities with abandon while still managing to provide for myself and my family – I believe those are a shared source of motivation for folks in this field.
What I’m most proud of – and what I think sets me apart – is that my journey towards those things has not become costly to my patrons. And truly, as I build this business, I’m learning how to make it cost myself less too. Not in monetary expense but in dignity and respect. I’m proud of the way Hinterland communicates what has previously been mysterious about the experience of getting tattooed. Moving forward with clarity and compassion has been at the center of each decision I’ve had to make while building the business. The mission has always been to equalize the agency between clients and artists, and to equip both with information that helps them make decisions about the art they will make/wear for a lifetime.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of the things I love most about Rochester is how easy it is to put yourself in nature when you need it. Highland Park, Durand Eastman, and Cobbs Hill are some of my favorite parks to spend time in. I’d probably take a friend out for a beach fire at Durand after a day of city exploring. Record Archive, Archimage, Rochester Art Supply, The MAG, …would have to stop at Dogtown for lunch. The Public Market is another favorite experience!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have to start with my parents, who didn’t bat an eyelash when I told them I wanted to be a tattooer. My family, my partner, my beloveds in friendship – all of these sweethearts in my life who encouraged and supported me when I felt like I was a total imposter. Being a business owner – especially a new one – can be so all consuming, and relationships are ultimately forced to shift in order to try and accommodate this new THING you are cultivating. I have the good fortune of being surrounded by people who offered me patience and grace when I fell short, wisdom and guidance when I was lost, comfort when I failed, and such loving encouragement when I succeeded. I am truly so lucky.
Rachel Liz Photography