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New tattoo parlor opens up in River Falls

While many artists work with paint and canvas or pencil and paper, Michael Latessa works with ink and human skin.

“It’s just a very personal type of medium… to be able to create art on a human being and have them put that much trust and all that into me,” Latessa said, “It’s a high of its own.”

Latessa is a tattoo artist. He opened his new shop, Third Eye Tattoo Parlor, 128 S. Main St., Aug. 6.

Like his shop, Latessa is new to the area. He moved to River Falls with his family in April. He said he chose to open a tattoo shop in town because he felt River Falls had a market for a second tattoo parlor.

If the number of customers Latessa has had is any indication, he was right. Since he opened, Latessa said, he’s seen a steady stream of customers, mostly in the 24-30 age range.

Latessa specializes in portrait and surrealism tattoos. So far in River Falls, Latessa has mostly done larger tattoos that take 3-4 hours to create, usually half sleeves and full sleeves -- tattoos that cover the arms like sleeves -- bigger ribcage pieces and back tattoos.

Because larger tattoos take so long to create, Latessa spends several hours talking with his customers, getting to know them. He said he always tries to make a new friend of every customer.

“I just hang out with them basically,” he said. “As I do that, talk with everybody and have some laughs and stuff, it makes the time go by and it just makes it an all around better experience.”

Latessa said he tries to make getting a tattoo an experience for customers rather than just a service he provides.

One customer apparently enjoyed the experience so much she made appointments for two days in a row. The day after getting roses tattooed from her ankle to her ribcage, she came in for a full-color tattoo of a peacock that took Latessa six hours to complete.

“I usually don’t get to do a lot of big color pieces like that,” Latessa said. “That was probably the funnest (sic) piece I’ve done since I’ve been here.”

Just seeing a satisfied customer’s smiles when they get up and look in the mirror at their finished tattoo, Latessa said, is the best part of his job.

“It’s probably one of the coolest feelings in the world,” Latessa said.

Latessa has been tattooing for five years. He said he is licensed to tattoo in both Wisconsin and Minnesota and has also won several tattooing awards.

Third Eye Tattoo is open Tuesday-Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. Latessa charges $100 per hour. He said he offers “passionate, good work for a good price.”

Per Wisconsin law, Latessa will not tattoo anyone under 18 years old.

Latessa said business has gone well so far and he hopes it will continue to go well in the future, especially as the UW-River Falls students arrive in town.

“I’m excited about meeting new people and being able to create great tattoos,” Latessa said, “and make new friends.”

For more information, call Third Eye Tattoo at 651-239-7849 or visit the shop’s Facebook page at

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

(715) 426-1048