Previous Next

Tattoo by Alex Binnie of Into You (Credit)

Some specialize in large-scale Polynesian tribal designs, others developed a revolutionary Chinese calligraphy tattooing technique. All are pretty badass.
1. Fortune Tattoo

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.

2. Tin Tin Tatouages

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.

3. Boston Tattoo Company

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.

Sleeves by Jazon Zube of The Boston Tattoo Company

4. The Tattoo Temple

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.

5. Black and Blue Tattoo

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.

Tattoo by Mark Prata of Toronto Ink

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.

Tattoo by Scott Campbell of Saved Tattoo

9. Kaze Gallery and Tattoo Studio

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.

10. Angel Art Tattoo Studio

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.

12. Apocalypse Tattoo

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).

Tattoo by Jack Matisse of Apocalypse Tattoo

13. AKA

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.”

Tattoo by Alex Binnie of Into You

17. High Voltage Tattoo

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.

Tattoo by Diego Ramallo of American Tattoo

19. Mana’o Tattoo Studio

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.

20. Sleevemasters

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.

Tattoo

 

About The Author

Michelle Schusterman

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.

  • Guest

    Binnie really is a Master at his art – My TattooMonger – Curly  started with Alex at in2u – Its a great shop and well worth sticking your head in the door if you are ever passing.

    • Dave

      Seven Tattoo Studio, Artistic Element, Dark Water Tattoos, etc….

  • Mdixon78

    I just had a tattoo done by Mark Prata at Toronto Ink. Great guy, fantastic shop, and incredible work. Mike

  • Aideen Tyler

    My husband and both my sons have had  tattoos done by Mark Prata at Tattoo Ink. He’s a true artist who shows pride and passion in his work.  I finally understand the term “body art”.
    Aideen

  • Salem Ofa

    lol! sleeve masters? really? iv’e been there. It sux.

    • Rikki-Jean James

      Tots dude

    • Glenn Millard

      Yeah WTF? This list is kinda sad…

  • Jeremy Justice

    hey look , apocalypse tattoo made the list! that’s awesome!

  • Tony Barton

    number 11- HELL OR HIGH WATER TATTOO new orleans louisiana.

    • Cherie Pete

      kick ass!

  • Jodi Mascarenas

    Nothing outta Cali besides High voltage? WHAAAAACK!

  • Jeff Cornell

    This list is a serous disappointment. Expected…

    • Kevin Black

      agreed

    • Katie Webb

      Weak!

    • Eric Kranz

      lame list.

    • Jacob Rolfes

      Iconic does not necessarily equal best.

    • Annette LaRue

      Just because you dont know all the shops does not mean the are not relevant. I dont agree with all the list , but I know everyone of the shops on the list and you should too.

  • Salem Ofa

    dude! they forgot to mention the shop Dirty tattoo with their star artist Rusty needles.

    • Craig Driscoll

      they sure did miss a few

    • Greg Pezzoni

      Fail!

    • Azure Messmaker

      This list is ridiculous. What garbage.

  • Chris White

    This is the most ridiculous list I’ve ever seen! There are a small number of shops that belong on this list horiyoshi III being an obviously deserving one. The amount of dogshit shops on this list is inexcusable. The sample pictures of american tattoo and Toronto Ink are laughable at best, and jesus christ who did jason zube have to ass fuck to get on this list! The Boston Tattoo Company? Seriously? I demand a retraction and resignation from whoever wrote this defamation to the tattoo industry!

    • Candace Joanna Cobuzzi

      what’s wrong with boston tattoo co?

    • Chris White

      there are at lleast 30 shops around the world more iconic and important to the industry than 3/4 of the shops on this list. especially BTC which has been open for just over 2 years

    • Candace Joanna Cobuzzi

      They may not be iconic but they aren’t bad. :)

    • Elize Nazelie Casarjian

      I hate talking shit but it would be good to mention the full turnover of staff between their first award-winning year and now. There’s nothing behind being a “good shop” if you’re not getting tattooed by the same staff :)

    • Alia Dovrell

      If you can hate you better be able to represent. Name the ones you think were unfairly omitted.

  • Tyler Furlow

    Seriously, what the hell? Shamrock Social Club? And Sailor Jerry’s last studio?

  • Andrew Smith

    I love tattoos. These are the craziest tattoos on the planet. The best websites I found on Google.

    Check them out!

    tinyurl.com/aclobuh
    tinyurl.com/akxtbrs

  • Marina R. Bours

    I don’t know much about tattoos, but some of the tattoos shown by the shops seem a bit lame.

  • Yair Abelson

    and again we come accross someone who doesn’t know a ting about tattoos but decides to rate studios.
    there are far better studios and a lot better tattoos than the ones you’ve mentioned. a lot of the tattoos shown here are mediocre at best. no depth, no shadows, no light and shade work… not to mention you haven’t mentioned a few of the big ones; Niko Hortado, Dmitry Samohin, Proky Tattoo, Buena Vista…

Once a year thousands of men gather at Wat Bang Phra temple outside of Bangkok to be...
A Tongan tattoo artist shares his knowledge about the resurgence of the ancient tradition.
And what do some of the oldest tattooing traditions in existence today mean?
"People in various states of undress show off piercings, tattoos and brands with nary a...
Photographer Caitlin M. Kelly takes us up close with some of the personalities from last...
Lighthouses are monuments to our long-lived relationship to the oceans.
From the snow capped Andes to suburban Australia to street carts in Egypt, here are 20 of...
For some, it's transcendent. For others, it's hard to believe. But it's a delicate...
Cuba's tattoo artists display their craft.
From Australia to Macedonia, here's the breakdown of where smoking is accepted, and where...
What you decide to take on a round-the-world trip ultimately depends on the activities...