Millennium® Gallery of Living Art – Fort Collins, Colorado
Tim Corley, Heide Unger, Suzanne Unger and Ryan Corley
A Story of Family Tattooing – by Heide Unger
My husband Tim Corley started tattooing in 1990 at Majestic Tattoo in Fort Collins, Colorado. He was hired as an apprentice under Steve Swanton. Tim picked up all the technical aspects of tattooing (stencil making, needle building, etc.) as well as fine line techniques. He started piercing in 1993, when he became co-owner of Majestic. He wanted more out of tattooing and became an APT member in 1994, then opened his own shop in 1995. That’s where I come in.
Being a good wife and just helping out, I had been an unknowing apprentice since 1993. After much begging, thus began my career as a tattooist in January of 1995. I had become a member of APT in 1994 and Tim and I became proud members of the National Tattoo Association in 1996. On August 15, 1995, with the help of our good friend Sister Bear, the 3 of us opened Millennium® Gallery of Living Art in Fort Collins, Colorado. Sister Bear, having forgotten the rigors of shop ownership, sold us her share a year later.
In 1995, Tim and I started going to North American Tattoo conventions and began traveling overseas shortly thereafter. We’ve tattooed in Belfast (Northern Ireland), Dublin (Ireland), Dunstable and Manchester (England), Oslo (Norway), and Frankfurt, Wesel and Berlin (Germany). We have also tattooed at over 100 conventions and rallies in the U.S.A. We are the Security Directors for the National Tattoo Association Convention held every year. Tim is the Treasurer, Board Member and Committee Chair for the Alliance of Professional Tattooists. I have tattooed during Sturgis Rally since 1996 and Tim since 1991. Our tattoo work has been featured in numerous magazines, including one of Tim’s on the cover of TATTOO. We have won numerous awards around the world for Best Tattoo Studio, Best Color Back Piece, Best Black and Grey Back Piece, Best Cover-up, Best Overall Male, Best Overall Female and Best Sleeve. I teach seminars on Cover-ups and Fix-ups at the NTA and APT conventions. I am very passionate about doing cover-ups and believe everyone deserves a good tattoo.
My mother Suzanne Unger, a professional illustrator/designer, began apprenticing with me and Tim in 1997. Tattooing is my mom’s passion and livelihood, but she continues to push herself with other artistic mediums. Suzanne has also tattooed at the Women’s Convention for many years as a mother/daughter team with Heide and at the National Tattoo Association Convention. Before tattooing she was a designer / illustrator for publication, stage and lighting designer for theatre, and pyrotechnics for theatre, stadium rock and roll shows and movies. She is a member of NTA and APT. She has also won numerous awards for Black and Grey and won 1st place for Black and Grey Flash at the 2007 Women’s Convention.
Our daughter, Ryan Corley, has grown up in the business. She has been a professional body piercer since 2000, starting at the age of 16. After the Columbine shootings, Tim and Heide decided to pull her out of public school, home school her and put her to work at the shop. She has also been tattooing full time since 2003. She apprenticed under her father, Tim for both. She is also in charge of maintaining and ordering our extensive jewelry selection at both studios. Ryan and her tattoos have appeared in a number of magazines. At the 2006 Women’s convention, Ryan participated, along with mom and grandma, in tattooing Bald Bill in his quest to be “tattooed by the most women artists in one day” for the Guinness Book of World Records. She is a “natural” tattooist and one of our senior piercers. Ryan is our General Manager, Master Piercer and trainer, Safety Coordinator and OSHA Compliance person for our two studios. She is also an instructor of the Prevention of Disease Transmission Seminar for the Alliance of Professional Tattooists. She has won numerous National awards for Best Traditional and Best Black and Grey.
We opened the 2nd Millennium® in Greeley, Colorado in 1997. We also owned and operated a successful overseas shop in Worcester, England for 5 years. We decided the commute to England was too much and, with much sadness, closed in 2004. All of the Millennium® Family, Blood and Crew pride ourselves on being a very professional, safe, courteous and ethical shop. All of us are Red Cross, CPR and APT – Prevention of Disease Transmission in Tattooing trained. For many years, our shop in Colorado has been named “Best of Fort Collins” by several local newspapers and awarded “Nicest Studio” by NTA in Reno 2004. Everyone in our Tattoo family has a reverent respect for the history and traditions of tattooing. We enjoy working and traveling together, with all of its challenges, blessings and joy.