The Darling Grey

The Darling Grey
48 Kearsage Road
North Conway, NH

The Darling Grey Neck ShouldersThe Darling Grey, as owner Jess Fenn puts it, has got a vibe. “Not to be, like, a hippie about it,” she says, “but it’s got a really good feeling.”

First opening in 2016, the shop’s grown into “an oasis for all lovers of art and counterculture,” as their website puts it. Fenn — who suffers from anxiety — was determined to create a soothing space. “The whole shop is covered in plants,” she says. “I wanted a very calm environment. I didn’t want people to walk in and feel like they weren’t cool enough.”

Four tattoo artists (including one apprentice) and a piercer work at The Darling Grey. All of the artists seem to primarily hover in the illustrative space, though they each implement their own unique flourishes.

Fenn, for instance, often works with fantastical elements, like little ghosts or mythical mermaids. “I love anything involving nature,” she says of her favorite designs to work on. “Anything that has a flow and can complement someone’s body.”

Many of April Surette’s designs look like they’re straight out of a storybook. Beth Potter does more of the “old school, traditional art,” as Fenn describes it. Apprentice Caleb Ring is continuing on the nature-themed path, currently specializing in smaller, black-and-gray designs.

The Darling GreyFenn started tattooing 17 years ago and, similar to Heather Smith’s experience, found the industry a bit intimidating. “There were a lot of men in the industry that didn’t like women tattooing,” Fenn says. Between those less-than-ideal experiences and her own anxiety, it took a while for her to feel confident in her skill set. Today, though, is a different story; the talent of Fenn and her team is definitively recognized. Thanks largely to social media, Fenn says people travel from all over to get a design at The Darling Grey.

“It’s so nice to hear, ‘Oh, I heard about you, and I live four hours away,’” Fenn says. “I feel so, so grateful. They could go anywhere because there are good tattooers everywhere now. So the fact that they still come here — that’s pretty awesome.”

She credits her success to her team and their diverse backgrounds. “The four people I work with are such amazing people,” she says. “Beth just became an end-of-life doula. April is a CrossFit instructor.” Their piercer, Wayne Morris, Fenn describes as “a big, burly dude” who is “such a gem…the sweetest guy.”

“I can’t take credit for how awesome this shop is, because it’s definitely a group effort,” Fenn says.

Note from the editor: 01 Nhm Cover Sept No Upc

This profile appeared as part of a larger article in the September 2023 issue of New Hampshire Magazine highlighting some of the wonderfully talented tattoo studios in the Granite State.

To learn more about the other studios, click here.

Categories: Tattoo Studios