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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

Transforming Tattoos

A sample of Hayley Moran's work - Courtesy of Haylo Healing Arts Lounge

Haylo Healing Arts Lounge Shifts the Stereotype of Permanent Ink

by Kimberly Lawson

Long before red hearts with the word “Mom” in the center became popular body art, people turned to tattooing for healing. The second oldest evidence of tattooing can be found on the body of a 5,300-year-old mummy named “Iceman,” and its purposes appear to have been medicinal. He had a total of 57 tattoos, an article on explained: “short lines etched in groups on his lower back and ankles, a cross behind his right knee and two rings around his left wrist.”

Lars Krutak, an archaeologist, studied the body. “Incredibly, approximately 80 percent of these tattoos overlap with classical Chinese acupuncture points utilized to treat rheumatism, a medical condition that plagued the Iceman,” he wrote in his book, Spiritual Skin: Magical Tattoos and Scarification. “Other tattoos were found to be located on or near acupuncture meridians that may have had the purpose of relieving other ailments, like gastro-intestinal problems.”

Whether by accident or experimentation, people found tattooing to relieve their ailments, Krutak told

Local tattoo artist Hayley Moran, who attended her first tattoo convention at 14, understands the healing power of tattooing, albeit in a more metaphysical sense.

Previously, she worked at Immortal Images on Monroe Road and later Fu’s Custom Tattoo in NoDa, but she says it became clear to her that “even though I’m a part of this tattoo industry world, they’re not necessarily my people.” Tattoo studios tend to have this stereotype of being a little rough on the edge, she explains.

Inside Haylo Healing Arts Lounge - Courtesy of Haylo Healing Arts Lounge

“What I wanted to exude was more of this self-actualization through artistic expression of the inner world on the outside, on the flesh,” Moran says. She opened her all-female studio Haylo Healing Arts Lounge in 2015 in the old Yoga One space beneath Green With Envy in Plaza Midwood. In addition to offering tattooing and permanent makeup services, the space plays host to yoga workshops, elemental art events and more.

Moran says her clientele tends to be “those who are seeking tattoo art as symbols of the soul.” Oftentimes, they’re people who are interested in getting body art to represent something meaningful, such as an internal shift away from ideals impressed upon them from their childhood. They’re not just getting a tattoo because it’s cool, she says. It’s part of the reason why the studio’s name doesn’t even have the word “tattoo” in it.

“Really, in all my work,” she explains, “I try to represent a transition and transformation, moving from one thing to another.” One example she offers is a new piece she started in December for her studio manager. “She loves nature and ferns,” Moran says, “and the fern is kind of this example [of] repeating life and growth patterns in everything, in flowers, in plant life and humans.” At the time of our interview, the work had some spiraling and multidirectional elements, including unfolding petals and leaves, snaking across the woman’s shoulder and down her arm.

Moran says her goal with every piece is to show movement on the body and make the artwork a part of the human form: “So it’s not, ‘Here’s a tattoo on your arm.’ It’s, ‘your arm is now a fern forest full of growth and transformation.’”

Part of what informs Moran’s work is the belief that tattoo art is a spiritual practice. In addition to a literal physical healing, the journey is also metaphorical for internal healing as well. “Not only are you able to express and visually represent those symbols that are stirring within your own soul, you also get to go through a little bit of pain, watch the transformation, and know that you made it,” she says. “You feel empowerment from that, and then you watch your skin actually show you the transformation, the peeling and then the healing of this artwork that’s on your body now forever.”

“It’s a really powerful, personal choice,” she continues, “where you know something about yourself and then you take a step forward in living in that truth. And then you’ve got this representation that now people are going to ask about, and you get to relive your story and tell your story if you want to share that with other people. It’s kind of a testimony.”

“I think true healing comes through all those facets: emotional, mental, physical and spiritual, through choice, experience and in recognition.”

Haylo Healing Arts Lounge is located at 1111 Central Ave., Ste. 100. Call 704-332-3377 or visit for more information.

Inside Haylo Healing Arts Lounge - Courtesy of Haylo Healing Arts Lounge


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