Award-winning Livonia tattoo artist adds color to clients’ lives, skin
Gypsy Soul owner has seen industry evolve dramatically in 11 years
Looking to add some color to your life and/or skin?
Livonia tattoo artist Tony Loden can help — at least with the skin option.
Loden is the owner of Gypsy Soul, a just-over-one-year-old tattoo-artistry business featuring four interior walls decorated as vividly as his own body.
Since getting his first tattoo when he was 18 — a small Chinese symbol on his back that has since been removed — Loden has blossomed into one of metro Detroit’s most-respected tattooists, securing enough “Best of …” awards to fill up a wall at his visually-pleasing shop located at 37522 Ann Arbor Trail.
Loden’s work has been featured in several tattoo-industry magazines and he’s routinely asked to work at invitation-only events.
And to think it all started with a nasty knee injury he suffered while playing semi-pro football.
“It happened so randomly — I was clipped low while playing for the Detroit Diesel and I tore an MCL (medial collateral ligament) in my knee,” recalled Loden, who graduated from (and played football for) Livonia Franklin. “I was in a cast that ran from my ankle to my thigh.
“I had some downtime, so I decided to purchase a (tattooing) machine to see if I could do it. The more I did it, the more accomplished I became. People kind of dug my work, so I did them on a few friends and a few more on some of their friends. Three months later, I had a job at a tattoo shop.”
Tony Loden’s tattooing awards
Just a few of the tattooing awards Tony Loden has earned.
That was 11 years (and many vibrant-colored tattoos) ago.
Loden was destined to land in an art-based profession since he was young and making out Christmas and birthday wish lists.
“I’ve always enjoyed drawing and painting,” he said. “For as long as I can remember, I had art supplies on my Christmas and birthday lists.
“I lived a well-rounded childhood. As soon as I’d get home from playing football or some other outdoor activity, I’d paint a picture or do something artsy.”
Loden is as innovative as he is creative. Prior to opening Gypsy Soul in 2021, he owned Taylor-based Gypsy Soul Collective, which consisted of a tattoo-artistry space in the front of the facility and a barber shop in the back.
“It was the first combination tattoo shop/barber shop in the state,” Loden said. “We were open a year and doing really well when the City of Taylor said it wasn’t zoned properly for tattooing, so we had to shut it down.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged, Loden said he lost clientele due to mandatory stoppages, but he soon regrouped and maintained his skin-coloring momentum.
“I opened a private studio — with all the proper health protocols, of course,” he said. “We used goggles, gowns, plastic hanging from the ceiling … everything that was mandated. I actually did so well because a lot of tattoo shops were closed longer that I saved up enough money to open this place.
“I have been blessed. Livonia has welcomed me with open arms, we’re super-busy and I’m doing what I love.”
Loden said prospective clients can either seek tattoo ideas and designs from him or bring in an image of what they want.
“I’ve only turned away one person in 11 years,” he said. “A 17-year-old girl wanted a tattoo of weed leaves from her shoulder down to her wrist and I asked her, ‘Don’t. you think you’re going to regret this in 10 years?’ She still wanted it — and her mom was their to sign off on it — but I refused to do it. I have a pretty strong moral compass.
“I’ll refuse to do anything vulgar as well. I don’t want to do something I think is totally wrong and then see it promoted all over on social media. Now, if somebody wants me to tattoo a silly looking elephant on their face, sure, I’ll do that, if that’s what they want.”
For more information on Gypsy Soul or to book an appointment, visit Loden’s facebook page.
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