For Andy Felty, tattooing is about more than just inking his clients’ skin and showcasing his own art; it is about turning his clients’ artistic vision into a reality.

The 12-year tattoo artist opened his own shop, Welcome Stranger Tattoo, in Lakewood in 2019. His goal was to create a “nurturing” environment.

Growing up, Felty never had specific ambitions to become a tattoo artist, he said. He “fell into” tattooing because he had a screen printing business and printed T-shirts for several tattoo shops.

“The spirituality of tattooing ... was calling me, because I recognized the ability to be able to connect with people on a more intimate level,” Felty said. “At that time, I had just thought that tattoos were very surface level. ... I didn’t realize the impact that they could have on a person’s soul when we take care of them.”

When social media site Pinterest launched in 2010, many tattoo artists adopted the term “Pinterest tats” to deride certain tattoos and aesthetics, including cute or minimalistic designs that became popular in waves, Felty said. He said it is important to him as an artist to make all his clients feel welcome and valued—no matter how “basic” their design is.

Many popular designs have deeper, hidden meanings. For example, a semicolon tattoo is a symbol of overcoming depression and other mental health issues. Being able to help heal people or encourage people to believe in themselves is the “true power of tattooing,” Felty said.

There can be an “intimidation factor” for new and veteran tattoo customers, Felty said, adding it can be daunting to ask questions and speak up during the process. But Welcome Stranger’s motto is “Our hands draw what your heart sees.”

“People will always be like, ‘This is my basic tattoo,’ but I tell them, ‘It’s not basic, because it’s doing something for you,’” Felty said.

Business information:

Welcome Stranger Tattoo, 1918 Skillman St., Dallas.


Hours: Wednesday-Sunday, from 1-8 p.m.; closed Monday and Tuesday.