DENVER — Nate Stephens takes pride in being a tattoo artist, but because he can no longer put art on people's skin, he's putting that creativity toward T-shirt designs.
"Tattooing is everything to me," he said. "It provides for my wife and my kid every day."
His workplace, Marion Street Tattoo, closed temporarily just as the COVID-19 crisis was ramping up.
"In the whole scheme of things, we’re not important to the rest of the world," he said. "We don’t provide a meaningful service in terms of continuing to carry society. If we’re put on the back burner for a while, I understand that."
Stephens's wife Mackensey is a stay-at-home mom.
"If I'm not tattooing someone then no money is coming to our family," Stephens said.
So, he decided to get creative. He turned his kitchen table into a sketch station to create T-shirt designs.
One of is designs pays tribute to nurses on the front lines who are treating COVID-19 patients.
"It’s called 'The Rose of No Man’s Land.' It’s a very classic tattoo design based on a song," he said. "During World War I, it was a French song and No Man’s Land is the line between the two opposing forces. The red cross nurses. That’s who you wanted to come save you."
He put a mask on the nurse to modernize the symbol, while still allowing it to have a traditional look.
Stephens will sell the custom T-shirts online. He is donating 20% of his profits to support healthcare workers.
He said he hopes his art will resonate through time.
"It's a grim memory," he said. "But it’s a good way to remember what you learned from this experience."
To see more of Nate's T-shirts, visit his website here.