Whether you already have a tattoo and are fiending for another design or are shopping around for The Best Tattoo Shops in the country to leave their famous mark on your virgin skin, you are not alone - tattooing is more popular than ever before.
Body art is no longer reserved for those on the outskirts of society like convicts, biker thugs and carnie workers; in fact today more than 1 in 3 Americans age 25-29 are sporting a tattoo. With so many people flashing some ink, acceptance of and demand for body modification will only increase, and new ideas for 3-D designs and glow-in-the-dark tattoos will no doubt come into play.
Current trends in the tattoo world include tribal and neotribal designs, as well as dark themes (I'm bad!) and symbols (I'm mysterious!). On the downswing: lower back tattoos or "tramp stamps" (thanks to the nickname) and zodiac emblems (thanks to the recent astrological fruit basket turnover). Both luxury tattoo studios and downscale shops will continue to proliferate, and until hipsters die off, expect to see more "ironic" tattoos like a piece of bacon or the "moustache-on-my-finger."
Whether you want a tribal symbol for music on your shoulders, a portrait of your dog on your back or a unicorn pissing out a rainbow on your chest, we have the tattoo shop for you:
Los Angeles Tattoo Shops
LA is home of jailhouse-style (black and gray fine line) tattoos and has a huge selection of quality ink spots to choose from. None is more famous than that of Mr. Cartoon, one of most exclusive and talented tattoo artists in the world whose work has adorned everyone from gang bangers to famous rappers. Mr. Cartoon owns and operates his private tattoo studio in downtown Los Angeles and charges by the piece; those seriously interested in a one-of-a-kind tatt should contact the studio at email@example.com.
Black Wave Tattoo on La Brea specializes in tribal tattooing, which its founder Leo Zululeta and current owner Su'a Sulu'ape FreeWind have helped to popularize on the West Coast. Come here for traditional hand tool tattooing as well as contemporary color work with modern equipment. Six Feet Under, Studio City, Body Electric and Zulu Tattoo are all highly regarded shops in the LA area.
San Francisco Tattoo Shops
SF claims some of the most talented tattoo artists in the world. Idle Hand in the Lower Haight has six artists and a blog, and takes walk-ins on all types of designs from portraits to flash (aka choose your tattoo off the wall). Blackheart has been a local favorite since 2004, with its artists providing some of the best work anywhere in the city. Black and Blue Tattoo is female-owned and has a comfortable atmosphere, Braindrops does only custom designs with a specialty in tribal styles, and Everlasting Tattoo is home to the famous artist Mike Davis, who has a waiting list about a mile long!
New York City Tattoo Shops
NYC loves its black and its tatts. Fly Rite Studio in Brooklyn is home to talents like Elio Espana and Steven Huie who have been doing amazing work in all styles, especially Americana and Traditional Asian, for over 20 years. Red Rocket has outposts in both Manhattan and Long Island and specializes in complex colors, and Inkline Studio's owner Anil Gupta is an expert in doing portraits and realistic tattoos. For dark and gothic work, check out Last Rites Tattoo in Chelsea, and appointment-only Invisible Tattoo focuses on black and gray tattoos and biomechanical designs.
San Diego Tattoo Shops
San Diego is another body art hotspot in the nation. Designs at Guru in Pacific Beach are inspired by traditional Japanese artwork, skin ink from the 1930's and 50's and the theory that tattoos should be 1/3 color, 1/3 black and 1/3 skin. Local favorite Propaganda in College Area has a slick new remodel, while Ace's Tattoo is the preferred stop for all military-related body art. Perhaps the biggest in the area, Avalon Tattoo offers twelve artists to choose from, and Seth's Chop Shop in Ocean Beach has experienced artists in a low-key neighborhood studio by the surf.
Las Vegas Tattoo Shops
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas - unless it's a tattoo, and then it will ride your butt cheek home, so don't skimp. Get inked in Las Vegas at family-owned and operated Studio 21 Tattoo Gallery or try your luck at Pair-A-Dice Tattoo, which offers "Vegas-style" designs: big, bold and colorful.
Did we miss something? Let us know! Happy inking.