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Hamburg has new ink: Elevated Mind Tattoo opens in village

ART IN INK — Pictured are ink and needles Brett Bender uses to tattoo; almost everything is entirely disposable, for sanitary purposes. Photos by Alicia Greco.
HAMBURG — Boston native Brett Bender, the owner of Elevated Mind Tattoo in Hamburg, studied art at Orchard Park High School. Post-grad, he was accepted into a few art schools, but said he turned them down to follow his dream of becoming a professional snowmobile athlete.

After picking up drawing again, three years ago, he delved back into art, through the form of tattoos.

“Tattooing is my favorite form of art,” Bender said. “It’s eternal.”

He eventually completed a tattoo apprenticeship in Albany.

He has a number of tattoos on his body; he said that some of them have special meaning, while some of them are humorous. Within the full-sleeve tattoo on his arm is an image of a spaceman, severed from his ship and floating through the galaxy.

“I’ve always felt like I’ve floated through space,” Bender said, adding that he was looking for somewhere to feel complete. He said that he has found his realm in the art world, specifically within his tattoo shop.

SPACEMAN — Pictured is Brett Bender, owner of Elevated Mind Tattoo, located at 189 Buffalo St. in Hamburg.
The name of the shop, Elevated Mind Tattoo, was inspired by Bender and his partner, who the shop owner originally worked and opened with at the business’s prior location on South Abbott Road, a year ago.

“Me and my partner were just trying to think of something different,” Bender said. In keeping with the concept of the creative taps within the human mind, the tattoo shop was born. A few months ago, the shop reopened on Buffalo Street in Hamburg.

Bender said that his style is custom art with neo-traditional influences, rather than “flash,” which are tattoo shops with template ideas found on the walls. “I’d rather personalize everything,” he said.

By law, Bender can tattoo customers who are 18 years of age and older, provided they sign a release form.

Tattoos are made by injecting dye under the epidermis, or top layer of skin, into the second layer, the dermis. The epidermis replenishes itself, so if dye was placed on that layer, it would quickly slough off.

The dermis is thicker and more permanent. Some homemade tattoos go too far, past the dermis and into the lower, subcutaneous layer, which also replenishes itself. This is why homemade tattoos can turn out blurry, beside being unsafe and potentially infectious.

Professional tattoo artists use rapidly-moving needles to pierce through the epidermis and place the design onto the dermis. The needles leave small holes in the skin, which then fill with ink, creating the tattoo. After a tattoo is finished, it should be treated like a wound and allowed to heal.

SKULLS — Artwork from Brett Bender\'s portfolio. Photo courtesy of Bender.
Elevated Mind Tattoo charges for tattoos based on whether the work is done in a single or multiple sitting.

Bender said that larger pieces will take more time; those tattoos are priced by the hour, rather than costing a single, one-charge sitting fee.

“Usually people tap out at about the four-hour mark,” he said. “One thing that sucks is people can’t sit as long as you’d like them to.”

He said that he has met many new friends and heard crazy stories, during hours spent inking.

“It turns kind of into a hair salon sometimes,” he said, with a laugh.

Bender credited Instagram© with being a significant tool in the tattoo art world. His visual portfolio can be found on the Instagram site, under @brett_bender. More of his work can also be found on the shop’s website at

“The body’s more of a timeline,” Bender said. “Maybe it’s just a memory here, or a reminder,” he said, alluding to the permanence of this type of art.

Elevated Mind Tattoo is located at 189 Buffalo St. in Hamburg.Bender’s shop can be found in the building’s storefront; Fluffy Puppy Grooming is also located at the same address.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 926-9162.

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