Tattoo artists and co-owners Molly Stark and Katie Petri want their tattoo shop to feel like your living room. The paint and decorations are fun, quirky and feminine. Colorful paintings, Petri’s own work, adorn the walls. Troll dolls sit on the shelf around the framed license for the shop. Viney plants dangle from the ceiling and walls.

“The goal for Studio Whimsy is to make you feel really comfortable, like you’re in your own living room– a clean, sanitized, professional living room– but you feel like you’re at home,” Stark said.

Studio Whimsy co-owners Katie Petri and Molly Stark want their shop to feel like home. “It’s going to be a painful experience, but I want to make it feel the most comfortable in the meantime while you’re in all the pain,” Stark said. Photo by Anna Koenning

They opened Studio Whimsy in November of 2022 in the upstairs space above the Bryn Mawr Pizza and Deli shop.

Getting a tattoo is a permanent decision, and the homey feel in the shop was important to Stark and Petri because it empowers clients to speak their mind about their tattoo. Stark said that she has had experiences as a client with artists who didn’t listen to her wishes for tattoo placement or even color. She pointed out a tattoo on her body, her first tattoo, that she had wanted in black, without color. It was in full color.

“Those old shops kind of didn’t want to give you the space and time– it was more like the artist’s choice instead of having it be the client's choice of where things are going on your body, how big the tattoo is,” Stark said. “We just want our clients to feel heard.”

Stark and Petri met while working at a tattoo shop in the suburbs. They bonded almost immediately over their excellent customer service skills and desire to treat clients well. They also found out that they lived not too far from each other in South Minneapolis, which was a bit of a hike from their work.

Studio Whimsy co-owner Molly Stark describes her style as natural, botanical and ornamental. Photo of client tattoo courtesy of Molly Stark

Though Stark has always been an artist, she started out in massage therapy and restaurant service before learning how to tattoo in 2019. Petri studied fine arts at the University of Minnesota before landing on tattooing, which was a way to make money in the art world. She got into tattooing after answering a craigslist ad, and eventually got licensed in 2016.

When asked what their favorite tattoos were on their own bodies, Stark and Petri giggled and said a few words that were only intelligible between best friends before answering that their favorites were the tattoos they gave each other.

Stark’s boyfriend owns the pizza shop downstairs and his father owns the whole building, which was how Stark and Petri found the space. In addition to the lobby, Stark and Petri each have their own rooms for tattooing. The rooms are much more private than the average tattoo shop, which usually has cubicle-style dividers between artists.

Studio Whimsy co-owner Katie Petri describes her style as abstract and organic. Photo of client tattoo, which is a cover-up of the lighter tattoos underneath the dark black ink, courtesy of Katie Petri

One note about the space is that it’s up a steep flight of stairs. Stark and Petri said that they warn clients ahead of time, and they will move their supplies to accommodate clients who can’t do stairs.

The level of privacy contributes to the comfortable experience that Stark and Petri strive to curate. Petri said that when she’s tattooing a sensitive piece, she coordinates with Stark so that clients don’t have to walk through her space to use the bathroom.

Another benefit of owning their own shop as two women is that it eliminates the “bad male energy” that dominates many shops.

“Just being in different shops around Brooklyn Park and Elk River and Coon Rapids, these like stalled kind of shops with the traditional dudes of the industry who are not welcoming, just want to make money, or like creeps,” Petri said.

Studio Whimsy operates on appointments only, unlike the shops co-owner Molly Stark worked in before that prioritized walk-ins. Photo of client tattoo courtesy of Molly Stark

At other shops, Petri and Stark said that they were encouraged to do as many tattoos as they could in a day, and most were walk-ins instead of appointments with consultations or other preparation before ink hits the skin. Working with such intense focus for long hours with a pressure to move quickly was exhausting mentally and physically, and they were limited creatively.

“We didn’t really get a chance at that place to be super creative and do the things that we really wanted to do and just take a ton of time with our clients,” Stark said. “It’s kind of just like a money-making business.”

As their own bosses, Stark and Petri get to keep much more of their profits. At previous jobs, about 40% of their profits went to the shops where they worked.

Studio Whimsy is whimsical and colorful, and many of the tattoos co-owners Katie Petri (who did this cow tattoo) and Molly Stark do reflect that fun vibe. Photo of client tattoo courtesy of Katie Petri

At their studio, Stark says she will spend all day repositioning or resizing a tattoo stencil if a client isn’t satisfied. While they are thinking of starting some flash days, which are days for walk-ins with a select assortment of tattoo designs, the duo don’t do walk-ins. Each tattoo is planned either by a formal consultation or by email ahead of the tattoo. This process allows Stark and Petri to prepare for tattoo questions and for the client to ensure they are getting what they want.

Co-owner Molly Stark said that in the past tattoo artists didn’t listen to her desires for tattoos when she was a client. She’s changing that attitude as an artist herself at Studio Whimsy. Photo of client tattoo courtesy of Molly Stark

Stark and Petri also keep their tattooing hours limited each day to avoid exhaustion and to take their time with each client. They usually do one tattoo per day– of course, tattoos can take several hours to complete.

Petri describes her tattoo style as abstract and organic. She likes cryptid and UFO lore. The light in her room has a flying saucer fixture.

Stark’s style is fine lines, ornamental, botanical and natural. The two picked the name Studio Whimsy because that’s their style– whimsical and fun.

Co-owner Katie Petri’s colorful paintings line the walls of Studio Whimsy, and her tattoos decorate people’s bodies for their lifetimes. “You can have a painting on a wall, but you carry around this forever,” Petri said. Photo of client tattoo courtesy of Katie Petri

When they opened Studio Whimsy, Stark and Petri were determined not to make a website, which they said between laughs. They relied on clients to find them through Instagram, which is a common way for people to find artists and see their work. Some of their first outreach for clients since opening in November was at the Bryn Mawr garage sales in May, when they gave tours of the studio. One of their goals is to make a website to grow their client base.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in getting a tattoo from Stark or Petri, reach out to the artists individually. Stark’s email is and Petri’s is Check out their Instagram pages for inspiration: Stark’s is and Petri’s is @ktptree.

Studio Whimsy is located at 404 Cedar Lake Road S on the second floor of the building. The shop’s hours are flexible, so reach out to an artist if you’re interested in getting tattooed.