Whether your body is covered in “tats”, or you would never think of getting ink, the level of skill and talent behind the original artwork that inspires body art is undeniable. Four of these dedicated tattoo artists from Black Sage Studio in Evergreen, Colorado are featured in the new exhibit The Dark Side of Sage at Bitfactory gallery, 851 Santa Fe Drive in Denver. Melis Fusco, Brian Henry, Milo Alfring, and Sharon Healy will showcase the diverse styles that they co-create within their studio and the ways they influence and push one another while still maintaining their personal artistic identity. The show includes watercolor, acrylic paintings, oil paintings, wood sculptures, photography and more, ranging from a super small, delicate watercolor on paper to mural size oil paintings on wood. Some of the works in the show have been made into tattoos, some are available as ideas and some are personal works that would be hard to translate onto skin.

Melis Fusco, founder of Black Sage Studio, has been creating art since 1994 and tattoo art more specifically since 2003, with her art evolving to become more illustrative. For her, painting and tattoo art offers two different experiences. Her tattooing career has brought her all over the world as an award-winning published artist and she creates multiple pieces every week—some larger works taking a year to complete—working within the client’s requested subject matter. Painting, however, brings her freedom of self-expression where subject matter will come and go like visions. Always interesting, always evolving.

California-raised artist, Brian Henry is based in Evergreen making a living as a tattoo artist. He expresses his career trajectory in this way "Brian started creating as a young lad, he got it from his dad. He started drawing with a crayon and now he’s successfully tattooing as a man.”

Milo Alfring has been a tattoo artist since 2006, taking a break in 2010 to earn a BA in painting at Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. He returned to the craft, opening two tattoo studios in four years. The primary focus in his art evolved from his practice of tattooing—simplicity and contrast in order to accomplish a clean, readable composition.

Sharon Healy combines a variety of traditional painting techniques in a non-traditional way; many of her pieces use a black-and-white acrylic under-painting and an oil over-painting. By engaging with a broad palette of cultural symbolism, she revives myths in a contemporary context. Particularly, Healy evokes the female figures of our collective unconscious to return the human image to the world of art. Jazmin Montano of Jazmin Arts once said that: “Healy’s work will transport you into the hallucinogenic dreamworld of your archetypal subconscious [sic].” Healy received her BFA from the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design in 2007 and actively participates in the Denver art scene. Her work is regularly exhibited locally and nationally and has been published in multiple magazines.