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Where would you like to get tattooed? (Which shops)

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Maybe this is über nerd/crazy tattoo collector-territory now but lately I've been thinking of the shops where I would like to get tattooed. Not of the tattoos I want to get, the styles I'm interested in or the tattooers that I find inspiring, but the lure of certain iconic shops and those places that have the right vibe, energy or history and so on.

I can't really articulate why I get a lot of feelings, thoughts and associations around some shops but... I also started to think of the shops where I have all ready been tattooed and what that gave me. I really enjoy getting tattooed in shops rather than at conventions. I think it adds to the experience a lot and it's also cool to know that you got x tattoo in y shop. In a way it's not too far from people who get a kick out of having seen not only their favorite band, but from the fact that they saw them at CBGBs or Carnegie Hall or wherever it was. Spending time in/getting tattooed in or just walking into some shops have been really powerful experiences, and these are the places where I picked up a lot of knowledge and impressions of tattoo culture and art, where my appreciation for tattoo art grew and I realized some important stuff.

I think of the actual tattoo in the skin as the one most physical level, the next more abstract level is the experience of getting the tattoo (and often the ideas and preparations around it), next comes the tattooer that made the tattoo (some people don't care about this, some people are collectors) and even more abstract is getting the tattoo in a certain shop. I can't really say much more than that right now, I'm starting to figure it out still. In the past year I've noticed that I think more and more about the shops.

What are your thoughts?

(I'll be back shortly with a list of the memorable/legendary/important/awesome/whatever shops that left a strong impression on me when I got tattooed there,

and a second list of the shops where I really would like to get tattooed. If these ideas are too subjective or hard to put into words at least this thread can be about the coolest shops we know of, and we can get inspired by eachothers lists)

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Okay if we're allowing the use of time machines I am interested in Phil Sparrow and especially how he mentored two of the greatest ever American tattooers, Ed Hardy and Cliff Raven. I imagine there's no real secret there other than that Phil Sparrow was intelligent, curious, worldly, and was involved in worlds far removed from tattooing--I'm not just talking sexually here, either--and so it makes sense that he would mentor people with similar dispositions, but I like understanding where people came from and what their formative influences and experiences were.

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City of Ink by Miya Bailey and Melvin Todd in Atlanta Georgia

Tri-Cities Tattoo by David Morris in Atlanta Georgia

Deadly Tattoos - James Tex

Yellowblaze by Shige -Japan

Illustrated Ink by Gino (Lordgyn) Belizaire in Miami

Scared NYC by David Tevenal in New York

Skid Row Tattoo by Mister Cartoon in LA

Nittis Tattoo Shop by Flaks Nitti in San Diego

Gold Rush Tattoo by Tim Hendricks in Costa Mesa, California

Yep...that would cover it!

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I think Frith Street has been my favorite place to get tattooed.

Physically there wasn't anything that set it above others particularly, but just the feeling and knowledge of the massive talent that has passed through there, and how many world class tattoos have come from there, gave me that special feeling. I would say it would be similar to getting to chuck a ball around at (enter your favorite major sports field)

I also got a similar feeling from Blackheart, but didn't get tattooed there (yet) just stopped in and bought a t-shirt.

Maybe that is a super fan girlish idea, but whatever, man.

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PSC Tattoo - Montreal, PQ

Timber Tattoo - Nelson, BC

Steveston Tattoo - Richmond, BC

Smilin' Buddha - Calgary, AB

love to get tattoo'd again at Government Street Tattoo in Victoria, BC. That shop had an amazing vibe !


Whether or not you actually get tattooed at Steveston Tattoo Co.I would highly recommend getting one of their t-shirts if you can. I assumed that I always see tattooers wearing them because they're nice looking shirts and those guys make great tattoos, but I bought one from Ryan Halter at the Quebec convention and it also turns out that it's the most comfortable tattoo shirt I've ever owned.

And you know my feelings about PSC. I can't think of a better shop to spend a lot of time in.

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This is just a list of places i'd like to get tattooed. Most likely not all of them are realistic, but a man can dream! This list can basically go on forever, but here's a start, in no particular order:

The Leu Family's Family Iron

Inksmith & Rogers

Seven Doors

Absolute Art

Smith Street

Invisible NYC




Skull and Sword

Three Tides


Into You

Rock of Ages


Time machine shops:

China Sea


Wherever Horiyoshi II tattooed


On some Pacific Island beach under a palm tree

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Wherever Horiyoshi II tattooed


I want to have a traditional japanese tattoo experience where I'm being tattooed on a mat on the floor with some master going to work in a smokey shop covered by drawings and pictures and such.

I'll add state of grace because I would love my torso done by Horitomo. Better start saving now....

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Heaviest spaces that I've gotten tattooed in:

- Bob and Charlie Roberts' Spotlight Tattoo in Los Angeles

- Horitoshi Studio/Tattoo Dojo in Ikebukuro

- Ricky Tattoo in Hong Kong (I think it might be gone now)

Heavy spaces that I've been in but haven't gotten tattooed in yet:

- Temple Tattoo in Oakland

Heavy spaces I'd like to travel back in time to get tattooed in:

- Realistic Tattoo

- Spotlite Tattoo

- Thom Devita's studio in the LES

- 222

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Keeping my ambitions modest, but only in a travel (and time-travel) sense. I would like to get tattooed at Congress Street/Hobo's again because it's such a warm and friendly place. I hope to get something from their flash and catch a couple of the people who visit semi-regularly. Last week I met a woman with some really gorgeous tattoos from Redemption in Cambridge, so I definitely need to make an appointment there--just need to figure out who/what/where. I feel a little silly that I've hardly been tattooed in my home state and wonder if the allure of the hard-to-get is just that, for me.

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Really interesting to see all these lists, thanks for sharing. Some of these shops I don't know the story of, or don't even recognize the name, so I'm definitely trying to find out some more about those.

That @Graeme would kick off with a time machine list was also fun. I don't feel like I know too much about tattoo history to really make a initiated list but here's a short

Time Machine List:

Thom deVita private studio

The Leu Familys Family Iron

Ed Hardys first custom only shop

Sailor Jerrys shop at Hawaii of course

Heavy places where I've been tattooed

(Theo Jaks) Infamous Tattoo

Smith Street

(Rudy Fritsch) Original Classic

Maudit Caillou (not legendary yet but it was their first week and the shop has great ambiance)

(Mongas) Aloha Tattoo

Shops where I would like to get tattooed

Into You

Tin-Tin Tatouages

Horikitsunes private studio


Spiral Tattoo



Three Tides

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I totally agree that shop>convention. That said, I will be getting my next tattoo at a convention so, yeah.

Favorite shops I've been tattooed at:

Rock of Ages

Pearl Harbor Gift Shop


Shops where I would like to get tattooed:

Black Anvil Tattoo (First shop I visited that I didn't get tattooed at. I vowed someday to return. From the outside you would barely know it's there but inside it's very cool.)

Frith St.

Great Lakes

Spider Murphy's


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  • 2 weeks later...

Smith St. Wonna see all that flash.

Any of Ed's old shops, especially the real ghetto ones.

Doc Forbes' shop. Canadian legend, probabaly would have allot of stuff from Canadian (Maybe even North America) tattooing's inception. Charlie Snow or Fred Baldwin as well.

Halo tattoo (NYC) for all that beautiful religious flash and decor.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Spider Murphy's, Frith Street, Smith Street, Blackheart, Rock of Ages...the list goes on. Those are kind of unattainable at the moment since I don't have the money or time to travel much. It's a little more realistic for me to aspire to places within a few hours of me, right now. Someday I'd like to drive down the East Coast and maybe hit up Hot Stuff in NC, or Read Street in Baltimore, and Erin Chance and Chelsea Shoneck (both based in VA) are way up there on my list.

EDIT: Oh, and the most famous shop I've been to so far has been Tattoo Paradise in DC, which was a fantastic little shop. So much great flash and everyone's portfolio is solid. I would definitely make the trip there again.

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