Think Tank Inc
172 S BROADWAY
DENVER, CO 80209-1525
Artists: Scottie Deville, Jef Kopp, William Thidemann, Patrick Shackley, Fish, Adam Rosenthal, Ben Thompson, and apprentice Jenny Lee
When Th’ink Tank Tattoo Studio and Art Gallery opened in Denver it gave the ink-loving folks in the Mile-High City a quality place for tattoos and a stellar gallery space. It almost didn’t last. “When we first started, we opened up in a neighborhood that was just too pricey,” says artist Jef Kopp. “Luckily, we figured that out pretty quickly and we moved over to our current space on Broadway. We’ve been here for four and a half years now and it’s exactly the right location for us. So much so that we’re now undergoing a complete remodel.”
The changes weren’t strictly cosmetic, either. In 2005, Kopp sold the business to longtime associate and tattoo artist of 17 years Scottie DeVille, who’s now at the reigns. “It felt right and made a lot of sense because I can continue to work and be surrounded by my friends without being the guy in charge,” he explains.
Anyone who spends more than a few minutes with DeVille and Kopp can tell they work well together, and their staff of artists (William Thidemann, Patrick Shackley, Fish, Adam Rosenthal, Ben Thompson, and apprentice Jenny Lee) reflects the positive relationship that they have. “This is the most laid-back environment I’ve ever worked in,” says DeVille. “The whole shop is full of guys who can handle anything that comes through the door, and our customers love that.”
Indeed, the staff of eight comprises experts in just about every genre, from Kopp’s love of portraiture to DeVille’s passion for hot rod style, Celtic work, and everything else in between. “Right now we’re booked out anywhere from three to six months,” he goes on to explain. “We get a lot of people coming in for large-scale pieces, which we love, since that means we get the chance to develop relationships with most of them.”
In addition to their regular clients, Th’ink Tank’s artists have also done work on athletes from the Colorado Rockies, Denver Nuggets, and Denver Broncos. “We also just tattooed one of the local news teams,” says Kopp. “This is a shop for everyone, from business professionals to college kids, so the people who come in here span a really wide age range. We’ve even got one guy who’s pushing 80.”
While the emphasis at the shop is clearly tattooing, the gallery plays an integral part as well. “We’ve always had a big commitment to showing the work of locals and up-and-coming artists,” Kopp says. “But we’ve mellowed out on gallery shows in the last year or so because we got too busy with tattooing.”
Past shows have included works from Mitch O’Connell, Joe Sorren, and Mark Mothersbaugh, among others. They recently hired a gallery coordinator to focus on that side of the business. “We’ve had the gallery since day one, but now we’re going to be hanging a new show every other month,” he explains. “Obviously art is a huge part of all of our lives.” Every person on staff does something artistic outside of tattooing; DeVille works with stained glass and Fish is a fashion designer.
Good vibes play an integral part in Th’ink Tank’s philosophy, and not in the hippie-dippy way usually associated with the mountains of Colorado. “Tattoos can scare a lot of people, so we try to have a light mood going, whether it’s from the music we play—which is anything from classical to Tiny Tim to crazy loud metal—to horsing around with each other,” says DeVille. Kopp also points out that the staff hasn’t changed since the shop opened, which speaks to the fact that they’re all one big happy family in their enormous 3,000-square-foot space. “We read each other very well, and we all balance each other out personally and professionally,” he says. “That’s probably the biggest key to the success of the shop.”