By Karynn Brown
Video by Hailey Krueger
Dec. 7, 2017

“Iron sharpens iron like one person sharpens another”

December’s First Friday included a feature by local tattoo and piercing shop, Iron Brush Tattoo, and its artists displaying an impressive range of style, medium and art from each contributor. The exhibit, entitled “Iron Sharpens Iron,” filled Tugboat Gallery in Parrish Studios on Dec. 1.

Iron Brush has been in Lincoln for 16 years, opening its first location in the Haymarket and relocating to 16th and ‘M’ streets in 2015. Iron Brush is home to twelve tattoo artists, all whom participated in the gallery showing.

While paintings were the preferred medium of the exhibit, artists also displayed leatherwork, musical instruments, drawings, prints, and blacklight paintings. The exhibit gave longtime artists a chance to show different styles and expand many of the skills used in tattooing. Using the show as an artistic exercise, one artist chose to limit his use of color for two pieces preferring dark blacks, greys and reds to his usual use of explosive lines and colors. For many, the show was a chance to grow as artists, challenging themselves to embark on larger or more stylized pieces than usual.


Artist Matthew Luettger, new to Iron Brush, showed several leatherwork pieces at the exhibit. Drawing from his extensive background in street and American-style tattooing, Luettger uses leatherwork as an intersection of his interests in tattooing, metal music and motorcycling. A collaborative work with Tony Squires, the two decorated a white Fender Stratocaster for the exhibit, adding delicate pinstripes and a carved leather plate over the body of the guitar.

Another room of the exhibit included blacklight works viewed through red-blue glasses. Paintings of the iconic Ramones logo alongside classic tattoo style images of the Virgin Mary, daggers and roses filled the blue-tinted room.

“Iron Sharpens Iron” filled the gallery with art, artists, and an eager audience. Including many pieces from years of flash sheets and artists’ previous shows, the exhibit showcased the hidden skills of some of Lincoln’s favorites.

You can still see the gallery Monday thru Friday from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. or Saturdays from Noon until 5 p.m. The gallery closes on December 30th.

Karynn Brown and Hailey Krueger are multimedia interns with KZUM.