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New mural blooms in downtown Olympia

Primeval Ink Tattoo co-owner Suzanne Shepherd is about 75 percent done painting a mural, she said last week, on the side of her studio in downtown Olympia. She plans on having the mural at 301 Fifth Ave. SE completed in time for this weekend’s fall Arts Walk.
Primeval Ink Tattoo co-owner Suzanne Shepherd is about 75 percent done painting a mural, she said last week, on the side of her studio in downtown Olympia. She plans on having the mural at 301 Fifth Ave. SE completed in time for this weekend’s fall Arts Walk. Staff photographer

A new mural is taking shape in downtown Olympia.

Suzanne Shepherd, co-owner of Primeval Ink Tattoo, began painting the artwork on the building at 313 Fifth Ave. SE, near Rainy Day Records, about a month ago.

“As soon as I got the landlord’s OK, I started hitting it,” said Shepherd, 66.

The mural features brightly colored folk-style flowers, birds and what the artist describes as a “Zen honeybee.” Shepherd said the inspiration for the mural’s message is a tattoo that she designed with an image of a bee and the words “here now.”

“We have to protect the honeybee,” she said. “Plus, people really need to stop and ‘bee’ here now.”

Shepherd said her goal is to have the mural finished in time for fall Arts Walk, which will be from 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday. She’s not technically a registered Arts Walk business because she didn’t get the paperwork filed in time, but she’s participated in it in the past. And said she always looks forward to Olympia’s twice-yearly celebration of all things artistic. She thinks the mural will be a nice contribution to it.

“It gave me a good goal,” Shepherd said.

Kim Murillo, owner of Little General Food Shop, which is in the same building, said she’s enjoyed watching the mural develop. She said she thinks it’s brought some life to the mostly beige two-story building.

“I think it’s really great to have something to catch the eye since we’re kind of set back,” Murillo said.

Shepherd and her partner, Andi Lineweaver, are former social workers; they established Primeval Ink in 1997. Their original location was in White Center, between Seattle and SeaTac, where they became known as “The Ladies” by many of their clients. One of their specialties was covering up and repairing gang tattoos.

“We would give them advice and stuff,” Shepherd said. “It was really pretty amazing.”

Primeval Ink moved from Seattle to Monroe in November 2001, and that shop is still open and “going strong,” Shepherd said. They opened their Olympia shop about a year ago.

Shepherd grew up in the Steamboat Island area, graduated from Olympia High School in 1967 and attended The Evergreen State College. She said she’s always dreamed about running a business in downtown Olympia.

Shepherd works on the mural in between appointments. She said the process has been “incredibly rewarding” because people often watch her paint, ask questions and thank her for the volunteer effort.

“The more I’ve done, the bigger it gets, partly because it’s getting so much acceptance,” she said. “Pretty soon people were saying, ‘Thank you for beautifying Olympia.’ 

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433

lpemberton@theolympian.com

@Lisa_Pemberton

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