Our intern, Ruby Kimberly, produced this fantastic slide show about the Yates Family and their enormous influence on tattoo culture in Colorado Springs.

Anyone who lives in Colorado Springs has probably noticed the seemingly disproportionate number of tattoo shops scattered throughout the city. So when I heard a statistic that Colorado Springs has one of the highest number of tattoo shops per capita in the United States, I decided to look into the phenomenon. When I spoke with locals in the industry about their opinions on the matter, many suggested that the city’s military presence creates a huge demand. But most agreed that the market was, in fact, over saturated. They explained how many shops are open for only a short period of time before having to close their doors for good, and some feel the strain of too much competition. However, despite the less-than-stable market, one pioneering family of tattoo artists has thrived in Colorado Springs for close to 70 years.

The late Big Bud Yates began tattooing in Colorado Spring in the 1940s, working as an artist here and in Texas for nearly his entire adult life. Big Bud subsequently trained his eldest son, Snake Yates, in the art form. In 1972 Snake opened a shop of his own, Snake’s Tattoo. Snake’s youngest brother, also Bud Yates (aka Uncle Bud), quickly followed in the family footsteps, working under Snake for a number of years until he founded Pikes Peak Tattoo in 1982. At the time of Uncle Bud’s untimely death in 2006, he and his wife Brinda were operating three shops and working extensively to improve government health regulation in the industry. Brinda continues efforts in this area while also working as an artist and running their shop located on Circle Drive. Snake’s shop, located on East Platte Avenue, is now the oldest in the city, and, along with Snake himself, well known amongst the entire Colorado Springs tattoo community. In order to get the details on how it all got started and why they’ve lasted so long, I spoke with Snake, Brinda, and “Scary,” one of Uncle Bud’s proteges and a long-time Pikes Peak Tattoo employee.

—Ruby Kimberly

 

4 Responses to The Yates Family Tattoo Legacy

  1. Mary Ellen says:

    AMAZING! Great insight into a subculture & family.

  2. elizabeth osborne says:

    nice to see pics of uncle bud and snake .brings back memories thanks for the good work bud.r.i.p.

  3. Tiffany Freeman says:

    Funny, Uncle Bud aka Bud was my neighbor growing up. Didn’t realize until I walked into his tat shop at 18, what a legend he was in this city. Loved that guy and his wife too.

  4. Susan Mjurphy says:

    Gave me a different perspective on tatoos and the tatooers. Ruby Kimberly did a nice job in putting this story together.

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