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New Woodbury tattoo shop says Aloha

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Aloha Art Collective Tattoo owner Aaron Michael began his career as a tattoo artist after opening a shop while living in Costa Rica. While living in Hawaii, he was heavily inspired by Polynesian design and beachscapes he would paint after surfing. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)2 / 5
After drawing out the rest of the design, Aaron Michael fires up his tattoo gun and begins the remaining section of Amanda Stoltzman's tattoo. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)3 / 5
Aloha Art Collective Tattoo owner Aaron Michael free draws the outline of a Polynesian-inspired design on client Amanda Stoltzman. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)4 / 5
Resident body piercer Justin Collins greets clients at the front desk at Aloha Art Collective Tattoo in Woodbury. (Bulletin photo by Youssef Rddad)5 / 5

An ohana-owned tattoo shop featuring laid back vibes and seriously high-end ink is saying aloha to Woodbury.

Aloha Art Collective Tattoo celebrated its grand opening Jan. 17 after growing its presence on the west side of Woodbury over the past few months.

The shop, which is located near the Valley Creek Mall, offers high-end custom tattoos and piercings by three local artists and its owner says it considers its clients and artists a part of the Ohana, or family in Hawaiian.

“This is probably the best place to get ink that I’ve been to,” said Forest Lake resident Amanda Stoltzman, who came into the shop last week for the final touches on her custom sleeve tattoo that features a Polynesian-themed design.

Inspired by the laid-back vibes and imagery of the Pacific Ocean, Aloha owner Aaron Michael said the shop to him is a place that embraces all walks of life. He also plans on hosting art openings and galleries for local artists, photographers and other creative types.

"That's kind of the main mission," he said. "To embrace our relationships with other artists, tattoo artists, whatever it may be, and have a space where everyone is welcome.”

Michael spent the past 11 years traveling and developing his unique style that incorporates Polynesian designs with traditional-looking tattoos.

Becoming an artist, though, was not a career path he saw himself moving into when he was younger.  

A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Michael moved to Hawaii with his wife and was preparing to take entrance exams for law school.

He said he became inspired by the scenery and local art and began painting beachscapes to unwind after surfing. Soon after, he decided law school wasn’t for him and hatched a plan to become a tattoo artist.

Becoming an artist in his mid- to late 20s wasn’t much of deterrent, Michael said.

"I've always had the thought process that some people are really gifted naturally, and others have to work really, really hard. I never felt like I had this ability that was crazy,” Michael said. “I liked it so much I just thought I could put my nose down and really learn this.”

After breaking skin in Hawaii, he moved to Costa Rica to open a shop with some friends. The clientele at the shop was a mix of tourists, expats and Ticos, or native Costa Ricans.

For almost seven years he immersed himself in the culture and worked hard between surf sessions to perfect his artistic style.

When his daughter was born, he and his wife decided to come back to Minnesota so she could attend school.

“When I moved back, I was going to open a place by myself,” Michael said. “I just really wanted to build my own brand, and that's when I hatched the plan to start the Aloha Art Collective."

Last year, the shop celebrated a soft opening, and then on Jan. 17 it held its grand opening.

And so far, business in Woodbury has been good, Michael said. “We’ve had a lot of support from the community. During the chamber (of commerce) event we had, this place was packed."

Aloha Art Collective Tattoo is located at 1740 Weir Drive.