Writer / Matt Roberts
On a bright spring morning, Jeremiah Floyd unlocks the front door of the Salty Siren Tattoo Lounge. Inside are comfortable couches and brightly colored walls decorated in a nautical theme. It doesn’t look like a typical tattoo and piercing shop.
“We don’t want it to look like Satan’s basement,” he says.
Jeremiah and his wife Lenny are owners of Salty Siren, located at 480 East Main Street in Greenwood. Open for just over a year, they’re trying to update common perceptions of the industry that include dark, sketchy spaces populated by bikers and felons.
“We want to spread the change that we want to see in the industry throughout Central Indiana,” Lenny says. “I’ve always been interested in tattooing, but so many people in tattoo shops are closed off or condescending and not welcoming. I don’t want the industry to have a persona of rough-and-tumble, rude people.”
“There are biker bars, and there are martini bars,” Jeremiah says. “We want to be a martini bar. We want to provide a different atmosphere where everybody is welcome.”
The shop offers four separate stations for tattoo and one for piercing. In addition to her responsibilities as owner, Lenny works as a tattoo artist. She graduated from Center Grove High School and went on to earn a Fine Arts degree from Herron School of Art and Design at IUPUI.
After college, she went to work as an instructional aide at an elementary school but gravitated toward tattooing as an outlet for her artistic bent.
“I started tattooing six years ago working under a mentor that I met at church,” she says.
Lenny believes the mentoring process was critical to her development, regardless of her artistic talent.
“It’s not just the artistry skills,” she says. “You have to understand the calibration of your machine. It’s about depth, speed, consistency and setting the voltage of the machine to your specific hand.
“There are a lot of people who get tattoos done by non-professional artists,” she adds. “They’re people who maybe work out of their home and didn’t complete a formal apprenticeship. They bought their equipment off Amazon or at a yard sale, they got no formal training and a lot of them don’t realize how hard it is until they tattoo themselves or a buddy, and then they’re like ‘oh, whoops’.”
Ill-conceived or poorly executed tattoos often end up getting corrected at Salty Siren. Jeremiah estimates that 40 percent of their business consists of covering pre-existing art, and it’s not always the artist’s fault. Sometimes it’s the result of a youthful, hasty decision.
“Lenny’s 30 and I’m 32,” Jeremiah says. “In our age group, everybody was getting a tattoo at 18. Putting something on your body that lasts forever shouldn’t be done impulsively.”
“A lot of them just got a tattoo to say they got one,” Lenny adds. “One woman I talked to yesterday told me, ‘You shouldn’t be allowed to get a tattoo when you’re on spring break in high school.’”
The Floyds’ clients come in all ages and from varied backgrounds. They’re open to any art that doesn’t oppress people or serve as a symbol of hatred.
“Everybody’s art is important,” Lenny says. “At some shops your art is belittled because of the size of the tattoo, or your art is simple or not in the style of the tattoo artist. Probably the weirdest thing I’ve done is Chester Cheetah from the Cheetos commercial.
“There are lots of reasons why people want particular tattoos. It could be a part of memorializing somebody’s life, whether it’s something tragic or happy. We had a group of brothers come in that got a tattoo in memory of a trip they took together, and I got to hear all about the trip. It’s neat to have families and groups of friends come in together. You get to hear some really cool stories.”
Salty Siren is the only tattoo shop to join the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce, and they recently won top spot for 2017 on the Indy A-List.
“Being a part of the community is important to us,” Lenny says. “We’re hosting a blood drive on June 3, and we’ll be a part of Freedom Fest. I’m from Greenwood and graduated from Center Grove. I love Greenwood.”
The Salty Siren is open Monday through Saturday from noon to 8:00 P.M.