Crazy Lady Ink 2

Crazy Lady Ink staff Lilly Carlson, Karri Kosel, Kelly Do, Cole Tolkinen stand with owner Al Lindback in their new space off First Avenue in Shakopee.

Nearly 30 years ago, Al Lindback was in his 20s and drawing his first tattoos before he had a single tattoo on his own body.

He fell into the unlikely career of tattooing by happenstance and a little luck: his late sister Linda Malone started a small tattoo parlor tucked inside their mother’s hair salon off Lewis Street in Shakopee.

“You can draw,” Lindback recalled his sister telling him one day. “Why don’t you come and do tattoos with me?”

Word of mouth spread fast. Every Friday and Saturday there was a line around the block full of people waiting to get new ink. Linda Malone, who married the late, nationally-renowned tattoo artist Mike Malone — learned the craft from her then-husband.

Mike Malone taught the brother-sister tattoo artist duo how to make their own needles and ink, and gave them advice on how to run a successful tattoo business.

Crazy Lady Ink took off from there. Its mission, Lindback said, has always been to make the tattoo shop feel fun and light instead of intimidating and dingy like so many other tattoo shops, he said.

“I want to make it approachable, and teach all the customers what they’re getting and why,” Lindback, who purchased the shop from his late sister 10 years ago, said.

Lindback said sometimes teaching his customers means he and his staff sometimes say no to tattoos he knows they will someday regret.

“One time a kid wanted a name over his eyebrow, and he wasn’t even 25 years old,” Lindback said. “How is he going to get a job? So I told him no. Otherwise, I’m sending people out in the world who are meant to fail.”

That kind of honesty has built a reputation of trust among the tattoo shop’s customers. People from across the state and even the Midwest region flock to Crazy Lady Ink, Lindback said.

And, after 30 years, Crazy Lady Ink has officially outgrown its original building.

On Tuesday, April 13, construction workers made final touches in Crazy Lady Ink’s new space off First Avenue in downtown Shakopee. It’s spacious enough for a pandemic — each station is situated at least 6 feet from the next — and there is plenty of room to add more stations. The walls are painted bright: yellow, orange, red and green covered the space.

“Tattoos are bright; why shouldn’t the shop be?” Lindback said.

The new-and-improved shop, though still undergoing finishing touches, is now open.

Maddie DeBilzan graduated with a journalism degree from Bethel University. She’s interned at Salon Media and the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Outside of work, she sifts through Goodwill clothing racks, listens to Ben Rector's music and goes on long runs.