Nick Wolak, the owner of Evolved Body Art, poses in the old shop location above Too’s on North High Street. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

Ohio State alumnus Nick Wolak is so passionate about piercing that he wrote his master’s thesis on it.

Wolak, owner of Evolved Body Art, got his bachelor’s degree in Portuguese and international studies in 1995, and his master’s degree in somatic studies in 2002.

His shop, which has been open for 17 years, has two locations, one at 2520 Summit St. and one across the street from campus at 1980 N. High St., with 22 tattoo artists and seven piercers. After winning the Best of OSU poll for best tattoo shop, Wolak sat down with The Lantern to talk about his and his shops connections to his alma mater. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Lantern: Is there anything that you learned during your time at OSU that directly affects your career at Evolved?

Nick Wolak: Absolutely, with the master’s program I did — somatic studies — each somaticist tailored his or her own program to fit their academic goals, so I based all my stuff around body piercing and tattooing.

And, of course, being in the community — directly working there, living there, studying there — that greatly formed who I am and what Evolved is.

For years, we’ve also done dorm speeches where we go in and talk to students about making safe decisions regarding body modification.

TL: Do you have any advice for students looking to get tattoos or piercings while they’re in college?

NW: My biggest advice is don’t rush into anything. Take your time, research what you want done, research the studio, research the hygiene.

For me, hygiene is the biggest factor in what we do because there are hundreds of people doing this all over the city and thousands all over the country and, really, we have very, very little regulation. People don’t have the same levels of education at all regarding hygiene, so you might find an incredible artist, but they may have never received adequate training in sterilization, cross-contamination, prevention of bloodborne pathogens, disease control, infection control, all that stuff.

I think that’s the biggest thing, is just make sure you’re going to a studio that is as clean as possible and as safe as possible.

TL: Do you get a fair amount of OSU-themed tattoos at Evolved?

NW: We do, yes. Probably not as much as people might think, considering we’re in the heart of campus, but we do quite a bit.

A couple of months ago, we had someone drive up from Tennessee just so he could get tattooed at Evolved by one of our artists just because he wanted an OSU tattoo from a studio very close to campus, very directly involved with campus.

TL: What does the future look like for Evolved? Do you plan to stay in the former Used Kids location near campus?

NW: Unfortunately we had to relocate (from our original High Street location), that wasn’t something that we wanted to do. We had to move because of (the 15th and High project).

We are really happy on the corner of Summit and Hudson, right next to Used Kids Records. It’s just a really nice corner that we love. We also have the old Used Kids space (on High Street) right by Buckeye Donuts, and we’re almost equally as happy there and we’ve got a long-term lease there on campus, so we should be there for at least 10 years.

TL: Anything else that you’d like to add?

NW: I can’t imagine what Evolved would be like if it weren’t for Ohio State.

The Ohio State community — the staff, the faculty, the students — has just been so supportive for us for a really really long time. I’m just grateful that we can continue to be a part of the community, I’m grateful to be recognized by the community.

On our end, we are fully committed to doing the very best we can to take care of the community, to make sure we’re doing our work in a very safe, clean and professional atmosphere. And we always have great artists and great piercers on staff.