Weather Forecast


Art in ink

Artist Frank Orsello applies another tattoo layer for Rhonda Bell.

Wadena area residents don't have to travel far to get custom body art, thanks to Tattoos By Frank. 21-year-old artist Frank Orsello has run the shop on 638 N. Jefferson Street since May 2009.

Orsello said he offers both custom work and pre-set designs.

"I prefer custom work," Orsello said. "They can bring me a picture, I can draw it from scratch, it all depends on what they want."

A variety of intricate designs from Orsello's work are displayed along the wall and on the shop's website,

He said that some customers will bring a detailed photo; others will have a picture on their cell phone or just a verbal description.

Orsello's longtime friend Nico Rodriguez helps out with the business. Rodriguez said he has done piercings for about five months now and is also apprenticing to learn the art of tatting.

Orsello worked on a session piece for his girlfriend Rhonda Bell as he talked. Bell said she had already sat two and a half hours for the first rows, then another seven hours for the second session. She said it was still sore from two days before.

"It's just too many hours to do all at once," Orsello said.

"When I freehand, I start with a light color, so you can erase it," Orsello said. "After that I do a little darker color."

Next is the part that hurts a little. It involves brand new and sterilized needles. Orsello said re-usable metal equipment is on the market, but he opts for the one-time use needles which are thrown away. "It's the safest way," he said.

"I've always liked tattoos and I've always liked to draw," he said. "I've always appreciated art."

He got his first tat at age 13.

Orsello said he worked at Tank's Tattoos & Piercing in Glyndon for about a year and a half before moving back to Wadena and starting his own shop.

Orsello said about half his customers are local and half are from outside the area.

The June 17 tornado temporarily slowed them down. "We had to take a couple days off, go do stuff of our own, we got affected by it too," Orsello said.

Orsello and Bell said a couple of customers got tornado-themed tattoos afterward.

June 17 was also the first birthday of Orsello and Bell's son.

"We had a birthday party before so we kind of got lucky," Orsello said.

The summer of 2010 has also brought new Minnesota regulations for tattoo artists.

Orsello said he has mixed feelings about the new law that minors may not get a tattoo even with parental consent.

"I think young kids shouldn't get tattoos, but 16, 17, it all depends on what they want," he said, adding that a really determined kid might get a tattoo illegally from an amateur.

He said he agrees with new requirement for state licensing instead of county licensing because it assures quality and streamlines things for artists.

"It's going to be a lot easier for artists like me to go out of state and go tat at these conventions," Orsello said.

Bell said they plan to go to the upcoming Hell City Tattoo convention in Phoenix. Orsello said he keeps up with conventions and magazines.

He said having a small shop allows him to do quality control. He also said that advertising is mostly word-of-mouth, and some of his customers are family members of people he knows.

"We just had somebody come in from Vegas to get a nice side piece," he said.

The hours are 2-8 p.m. Monday through Saturday and the sign reads that walk-ins are welcome.

"I do walk-ins but it's harder for me to get in times," he said, adding that he prefers appointments which give him "a little time to prepare the tat and get to know the person getting it and get in their head a little bit."

Tattoos By Frank can be reached at (218) 632-8286.