1. Cassie Shammel (Northwest Tattoo) 142 E. 13th Ave. 541-393-6570. NWTattoo.com.

2. Damien Thompson (Parlor Tattoo) 1097 Willamette. 541-345-6465. TheParlorTattoo.com.

3. Etzel Leguizamon (Tattoo OM) 1695 Willamette. 541-654-8106. Tattoo-OM.com.

Cassie Shammel didn’t always want to be a tattoo artist. As a biology major at the University of Oregon, she thought she wanted to be a researcher. “I grew up in a family where academics were really valued,” she says. “Not that art isn’t valued, but it was — do art, but do your science first and foremost.” Everything changed for her in her junior year when she began working at the school’s craft center. “It allowed me to meet actual artists,” Shammel says. “It ignited my artistic side again.” She wanted to make a career in art and tattooing seemed like a fun way to do it. “It seemed like the next natural step,” she says. 

Shammel’s specialty is scientific illustration. “I found a lot of comfort in science, in learning things about animals, genetics, flowers and geology — so naturally that’s where my artistic style has always come from.” 

Shammel works as an independent contractor for Northwest Tattoo. She enjoys the community of artists and the ambiance of the place itself, which can be mistaken for a greenhouse from the outside. “I’ve benefited so much from being in a shared space with other artists,” she says. “It made my tattooing go from zero to 100.” She recently opened her books again, and has had too many requests to accommodate. “People were sending in really good ideas,” she says. “I feel like my artistic vision is being seen.” And at the end of the day, “It’s an honor to help everybody feel a little bit cooler.”