City: Portland, OR (US)
Setting up shop in a city with one of the highest rates of tattoo parlors per capita in the United States (around 12 per 100,000 people) can’t be easy, but Ms. Mikki was up for the challenge. She opened Fortune Tattoo on April 1st, 2010, and it’s already one of the most well-known and respected shops in the city. As is Ms. Mikki, who’s been featured in Tätowier Magazine, Skin & Ink, and Northwest Tattoo.
City: Paris (France)
Tin Tin has been tattooing for nearly three decades and opened his shop in Monmartre in 1999. His work has been featured in magazines like GQ and Elle, in advertisements for Givenchy perfume, and on celebrities like Marc Jacobs and Philippe Starck.
City: Boston, MA (US)
The studio might be new (opened May 2010), but owner Jason Zube wasted no time developing a solid reputation. Boston Tattoo Company was the 2011 winner of the “Best of Boston” readers’ poll by The Boston Phoenix.
City: Hong Kong (China)
Joey Pang has a two year waiting list; unsurprising, considering she developed a brush-stroke technique of tattooing that resembles elements of traditional Chinese calligraphy. Tattoos out of this studio have been featured on CNN, CBS, and The Travel Channel.
City: San Francisco, CA (US)
Germany-born Idexa Stern opened Black and Blue in 1996, and the six-member staff speaks a combined seven languages. Idexa specializes in “black work, geometric patterns, scientific imagery, and organically inspired designs,” and was named 2009 and 2010 Best Tattoo Artist in the Bay Area in the San Francisco Bay Guardian‘s “Best of the Bay” Readers Poll. Her work is also featured in Black Tattoo Art and Tattoo World.
6. Toronto Ink
City: Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
“As Seen on MTV.” Mark Prata of Toronto Ink was the tattoo / art designer for the A&E TV series “Breakout Kings” and was the on-air tattoo artist on MTV Live in 2007.
7. Caio Tattoo
City: Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Caio started tattooing manually — as in a needle and no machines — over 40 years ago. He was in the business back when tattoos were for, in his words, “sailors, prostitutes, and bandits.” Caio’s shop in Arpoador is located on some prime real estate; right on the stretch between the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.
8. Saved Tattoo
City: Brooklyn, NY (US)
Scott Campbell opened Saved Tattoo in 2005, which has since expanded to include eight other tattoo artists. Famous clientele includes Heath Ledger, Sting, Orlando Bloom, and Robert Downey Jr.
City: Denver, CO (US)
Kaze pulls double-duty as both a tattoo studio, where artists Sandi Calistro and William Thidemann specialize in custom designs, and a gallery, hosting art openings for both local and national artists every month.
City: Bangkok (Thailand)
Mr. Tung is one of the most well-known tattoo artists in Bangkok. His tattoos are free-hand, drawn right onto the skin rather than on paper, so each one is an original.
11. Shanghai Tattoo
City: Shanghai (China)
Shanghai Tattoo’s pieces have been featured in tons of media, including CNN GO, Adidas commercials, Inked Magazine, Shanghai Daily, and Sueddeutsche.de. The studio recently moved from an area known as “Cool Docks” to a larger space on Maoming nan lu.
City: Seattle, WA (US)
Apocalypse Tattoo of Seattle has been featured in dozens of local and international magazines, including Tattoo Burst (Japan), Tattoo Energy (Italy), Tattoo Society (US), Skin Deep (UK), and Tattoo Arte (Mexico).
City: Berlin (Germany)
AKA is more than a tattoo studio. According to their website, it’s also “a café, a performance space, and a foster home for all kinds of artistic stray cats.” This isn’t just a place to get a tattoo; it also hosts exhibitions for tattoo artists (and other artists) to display their work.
14. Horiyoshi III
City: Tokyo (Japan)
Not only is Yoshihito Nakano — also known as Horiyoshi III — one of the most respected tattoo artists in the world, he’s also the founder of the Yokohama Tattoo Museum. His studio is located in Yokohama, but he is closed to new clients.
15. Hanky Panky
City: Amsterdam (Holland)
His studio in Amsterdam is just one of the contributions Henk Schiffmacher, also known as “Hanky Panky,” has made to the world of tattoo art. Henk has also been an advisor for exhibitions covering the history of tattooing at The Museum of Natural History in New York and the Museé de la Civilisation in Canada. His clientele has included members of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Pearl Jam, as well as Kurt Cobain.
16. Into You
City: London (England)
In 1993, Into You was the first custom tattoo shop in London. Owner Alex Binnie is credited as one of a small group of artists to popularize large-scale tribal design tattoos. His work has been featured in Henk Schiffmacher’s “1000 Tattoos.”
City: Hollywood, CA (US)
Also known as “Kat Von D’s High Voltage Tattoo.” Kat’s stint as a tattoo artist on “LA Ink” made her a name in the tattoo world. She held a Guinness World Record for the most tattoos given by one person in a 24-hour period at 400 (which was broken by Oliver Peck in 2008).
18. American Tattoo
City: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Named one of the top five tattoo parlors in Argentina by The Argentina Independent, American Tattoo is actually three studios located in Barrio Norte. Owner Mariano Antonio has inked Maradona, Katie Price, and members of Guns ‘n’ Roses.
City: Papeete, Tahiti (French Polynesia)
Mana’o is the studio-home of Manu Farrarons, arguably the most famous Tahitian tattoo artist alive today. His tattoos consist mainly of traditional Polynesian designs. In 2011, he was named Best Tribal Tattoo Artist at the Ink n Iron International Tattoo Festival in Long Beach, CA.
City: Sydney (Australia)
Scottish tattoo artist and writer Terry Wrigley once called Sleevemasters “the busiest tattoo shop in the world.” Sleevemasters opened in 1984 in Sydney’s “red light” district. They handle any type of tattoo and specialize in re-works and cover-ups.
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Michelle is a musician, writer, and teacher just trying to see the world while doing what she loves for a living. She's taught ESL in Salvador, Brazil and kindergarten in Suwon, Korea, and now she's a full-time freelance writer living in Seattle (just to keep the city alliteration going). She'll try pretty much any food once and believes coffee is its own food group.
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