Matthew Fillmore

{span}Before mandatory shut-down orders forced tattoo artist Matthew Fillmore to close his private studio on Colorado Springs’ west side, he hit the road to collect supplies his clients, many of whom are moms, were struggling to buy in the Springs.{/span}

The coronavirus pandemic has left us all in uncharted waters, with no horizon in sight. But with businesses and schools closed, national pastimes on hold, and the traditional flow of life ground to a halt, one thing’s for sure:  We’re carrying on. With new worries and habits, but also with new perspectives and priorities. We're sharing several of your personal stories.

Matthew Fillmore

Even before Gov. Jared Polis extended mandatory coronavirus closures to include businesses such as Devils Heart Tattoo, inkmaster Matthew Fillmore was preparing to stop taking clients at his private studio on Colorado Springs’ west side.

In addition to the health concerns surrounding such an intimate art form, mistakes in ink are indelible, so there’s no room for distraction.

And there was no denying all this was becoming that.

“You look outside and it’s sunny and it looks like everything is so OK, but there’s the stress of everything escalating,” said Fillmore, as he prepared to close up shop the night before the shutdown was announced, March 19. “Like, am I really all here while I’m here? Am I really that focused, or am I thinking about what’s going to happen, about what I need to get?”

He doesn’t have kids, but a few weeks ago, the things he needed to get included baby formula and diapers.

As worries about the virus started to ramp up and panic hoarders were stripping local shelves bare, more of his clients began talking about their struggle to find necessities. In response, Fillmore said he hit the road, visiting stores far and wide to buy what they needed and couldn’t find in the Springs. 

“They were stressing and freaking out. It popped in my head to go scavenge,” said Fillmore, who said he made a point not to pillage inventory elsewhere, just take a little here, a little there.

What he said he likes most is how his social media posts announcing hard-to-find supplies, for resale at no upcharge, inspired a conversation that bore unexpected fruit. 

“There were thousands of comments, and people started helping people in their own areas through this post. Like, ‘Oh, you’re a half mile from me. I can get you what you need,’” he said. “It was a ripple effect.”

Now that the supplies are gone and his studio shuttered until at least April 30, Fillmore said he’s trying to stay positive and focus on a post-pandemic future. To help his clients do that, too, he’s running a pandemic “stimulus:” $25 for a quarter-size Colorado heart tattoo in celebration of Centennial state resilience, to be delivered when business can return to normal.

Right now, the offer’s good for those booking appointments in June.

“It’s important to have something to look forward to,” Fillmore said.

Whatever you’re doing to weather this storm, The Gazette wants to know. Send an email to, and include a selfie if you can.


Stephanie Earls is a news reporter and columnist at The Gazette. Before moving to Colorado Springs in 2012, she worked for newspapers in upstate NY, WA, OR and at her hometown weekly in Berkeley Springs, WV, where she got her start in journalism.

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