Evanston Welcomes Sweetheart Ink Tattoo

Since 2010, Tia Ng has received 84 tattoos. One of her most recent tattoos—an outline of a goose holding a knife, from a popular meme—was the first done at Evanston’s only tattoo parlor: Sweetheart Ink Tattoo.

Wu learned about the store’s opening when the owner, his fiancée David Libert. and Isabella Viola, Stopped by Hoosier Mama Pie next door where Wu works.

“I was like, this is a really bad idea because I’m going to spend all my money there,” Wu said.

After receiving city and state approval, Libert opened Sweeheart Ink Tattoo at 530 Kedzie St. on May 8. Ng saw a post about the opening of the store on Sweeheart Ink Tattoo’s social media and hurried over to become their first customer.

There, Wu received a small tattoo and received consultation for a larger tattoo. She said she was a “proud neighbor” to see the store open and operating.

Liebert had been tattooing for nearly seven years before opening the shop. He said he gravitated toward the Chicago New School style—a blend of color, distorted perspectives, and lines of varying thicknesses.

Viola, on the other hand, started getting eyebrow tattoos last year. She said she has been drawing her own eyebrows since she was a child and became certified in September. She is planning to learn other body art tattoos.

Sweetheart Ink Tattoo must obtain a special use permit from the city before the shop can open. Viola said they attended three meetings to present their business plan and answer questions from city officials. Their request was ultimately approved at the April 29 City Council meeting.

“Everything was perfect and fit our plan and everything we wanted to do,” Viola said. “In my eyes, it almost seemed like it was meant to happen.”

The couple said the community response to their store has been overwhelmingly positive. Lippert said it feels like their store is “a missing piece of the puzzle” in Evanston.

Before becoming a tattoo artist, Libert worked as a graphic designer for 13 years. at Columbia College Chicago, He designed his own game arts degree, initially planning to create concept art professionally.

“Tattoos chose me in a very strange way,” he said. “I didn’t set out to do it. It just revealed itself to me.

Liebert said a friend suggested he do a tattoo apprenticeship while working on Disney’s Stitch. Behind Liebert’s legs. Soon after, Liebert began an apprenticeship under the same artist as his friend.

At Sweetheart Ink Tattoo, Liebert said he’s excited to provide people with their first tattoos and hopes to create an educational environment that sets customers up for success in choosing additional tattoos.

“When I talk to people about their tattoos, I make sure they fit the shape of their body,” he said. “It’s going to look right, it’s not a temporary tattoo, and you’re not designing around something else.”

For Libert, running a tattoo parlor requires trust and customer service, not just artistic ability. He said customers remember their experience every time they see a tattoo, so he wants to make sure they have great memories.

“I’m really excited to create the experience we envisioned,” Liebert said. “Now I have the ability to do that without any hindrance, in almost any way possible.”

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