Of all the mediums through which artists express themselves, tattoo art may be the most personal. If a tat is in your future, make sure the establishment you choose is safe, clean and has autoclave sterilization, and that the artist is responsive to your questions. It also wouldn't hurt if they were legendary. The five shops below are known for creativity, artistic flair, custom-design work and safety; possibly the perfect combination of edgy and mainstream.
Update: We've created an updated list with our new favorite tattoo shops. Find our new picks here.
Foursquare Favorite: Wooster St. Social Club
43 Wooster St.
New York, NY 10013
Read all the tips on Foursquare
Every fan of Wooster St. Social Club seems to have their own favorite tattoo artist, but the bottom line is that everyone on staff is a standout. Head to Foursquare to sort reviews by these tastes:
Come for creative designs and bright colorful work, but be sure to reserve ahead for a consultation ($200 minimum).
Hours: Daily - 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., appointments preferred
The wait time for an appointment with fabled Scott Campbell can be epic. If you must get inked by Campbell, whose clients include Marc Jacobs and Helena Christensen, then you're in for a wait. If waiting is not your style, don't overlook Saved's stable of astonishing artists including Chris O'Donnell, whose brash-masculine designs are staggering, and the whimsically-light touch of Michelle Tarantelli.
Hours: Daily - 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.Beloved-neighborhood icon and Three Kings owner Matty No Times refuses to succumb to the appointment-only system. Walk-ins are welcome at this busy parlor, where 14 resident artists plus a revolving group of guest artists are typically on site 7 days a week. This is the tattoo parlor of choice for Brooklyn indie-rock bands like Hold Steady, Lucero, None More Black and Kill Your Idols, but Kings is not for rockers only. New Jersey Nets' forward Boštjan Nachbar, crossed the bridge to get his tat here.
Hours: Daily - 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
This is not your typical run-of-the-mill, pick-it-and-stick-it tattoo parlor. Straddling the art world and tattoo culture, Sacred's premises include an art gallery featuring paintings and sculpture evocative of both current trends and sub-culture art. The 19 resident tattoo artists at Sacred have varying styles, but be warned: if you want an appointment with hottie Jon Mesa you should probably make that call today. Once he joins the cast of Oxygen Network's' "Best Ink" it may be harder to get that date.
Hours: Mon to Thurs - 1 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri - 1 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sat 1 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
It's hard to say what owner Darren the Dude is more passionate about: dragons or marathon running. A tattoo artist for more than 25 years, the Dude is one of seven resident artists at Rising Dragon. Emma Stone came here with Mom in tow to get matching Paul McCartney designed tats.
Hours: Daily - 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., appointments preferred
Locals love the intimate, cozy vibe of this Park Slope tattoo parlor, which specializes in flash art, traditional Americana and Japanese-inspired designs.The Hand team recently expanded their vision and opened a gallery space specializing in custom-tattoo work right down the block. Owner Craig Rodriquez believes in showcasing the talents of both established and emerging artists.
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