Looking to get a new piece in the City That Never Sleeps? Here’s a guide for famous tattoo shops in NYC with the best tattoo artists in NYC and its neighborhoods!
You won’t be the first person to look for a tattoo in New York City. New York has a long history of tattoo parlors and tattooing — some even call it the birthplace of modern tattooing. The first tattoos in NYC belonged to members of the Native American nations who lived in the area, documented as early as the 1710s.
In the 19th century, Martin Hildebrandt set up what we now think was the first formal tattooing business in the United States. Martin’s daughter, Nora, had more than 300 tattoos! The first electric tattoo machine was patented in 1891, with most tattoos costing around five cents — that’s about $1.50 in today’s money.
Tattoos were always taboo, but in 1961, the city banned tattooing. Artists during this time went underground, opening parlors and studios in Coney Island, Hell’s Kitchen, the Village, and other traditionally bohemian neighborhoods. These studios eventually became some of the most famous tattoo shops in NYC. Tattoos weren’t made officially legal again until 1997!
The long history of “counter-culture” and tattooing go hand-in-hand in Manhattan and its surrounding neighborhoods, resulting in one of the most vibrant tattoo scenes in the world.
Top tattoo artists flock to NYC tattoo shops from Washington Heights to the Bowery, Staten Island to Queens, specializing in every style imaginable. This reputation for variety is excellent news for you if you’re looking for a new tattoo by one of the best tattoo artists in NYC!
With the vast number of studios and artists in the city, deciding where to go for your NYC tattoo can be challenging. The list below is some of the best artists and best tattoo shops. It also details just some of the artists and the styles you can expect at these best of NYC studios.
Source: Kings Avenue Tattoo. See more examples on the King Avenue Tattoo Instagram.
Mike Rubendall established Kings Avenue Tattoo in 2005 to create one of the most influential tattoo parlors in the world. It remains one of the most famous tattoo shops in NYC.
The studio works to blend the past and future by designing tattoos influenced by the rich history of tattooing but firmly rooted in the art and technology of today.
The shop operates in the Bowery, a neighborhood that played a central role in establishing New York City’s tattoo culture. More than a dozen resident artists work at Kings Avenue, including Grez, Chris O’Donnell, Matt Adamson, and Becca Genne-Bacon.
The shop specializes in Japanese, American traditional, black and grey, and realism styles.
Their blog has a wealth of info on the history of specific styles of tattoos, from Japanese characters like the CHŌCHIN-OBAKE to American styles like an eagle and snake.
The studio’s tattoo artists are committed to their core values: “We create out of love for what we do. We believe in it.”
Source: Twitter/@Megan_Massacre. See Grit n Glory’s Instagram for more.
Renowned NYC tattoo artist Megan Massacre founded the Tattoo Studio at Grit n Glory in 2014. It’s way more than just a spot to get a new piece. The store deems itself “a one of a kind lifestyle spot,” where you can get a new tattoo, then pick up a new piece of jewelry or clothing to complement the laid-back rock ‘n’ roll vibe the store represents. The studio sits right on the edge of Alphabet City and the Bowery, cementing its rock ‘n’ roll status.
This parlor prides itself on making each client “a part of the Crue,” delivering top-notch service with a welcoming vibe. Each artist is an expert in their particular form of tattoo design. Janice Danger specializes in black and white linework, while Charlotte Timmons’ ethereal realistic pieces offer more than a little of a cool witchy vibe.
A fun plus at this shop — you can pick up a set of temporary tattoos designed by the artists in a range of styles, just in case you want to try out your new design before you commit.
Source: Sacred Tattoo. Follow Sacred Tattoo’s Instagram.
Sacred Tattoo has one of the most storied histories in the city. Famous tattoo artists from Anil Gupta to Kate Hellenbrand have tattooed here, and the SoHo studio proudly shows off this history with the art on their walls — and on the bodies of the people who walk out with a coveted Sacred Tattoo piece.
Sacred Tattoo has a large staff of resident and guest artists specializing in a variety of designs, meaning you’ll be sure to find someone who can help you create your custom work of art. From Deanna Cipollone’s nerdy, comic-book influenced sleeves to Eddie Peralta’s epic mythical full-color hand tats, there’s something here for everyone.
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Source: Fun City Tattoo. See more on Fun City Tattoo’s Instagram.
Located in the heart of NYC’s East Village, Fun City Tattoo is the oldest tattoo shop in Manhattan. This studio claims its roots back to a Bowery basement in the ’70s when famous artist Jonathan Shaw tattooed local bikers while avoiding the law.
The rough vibes of the past can be felt in the shop today, from the coffered ceiling to the owners’ reputations. Steve Pedone and Maxx Starr are respectful of the studio’s storied past while focusing their art firmly on the cutting edge of the tattoo art scene.
Fun City openly welcomes walk-ins and offers a diverse array of styles for tattoos of all sizes. Benny Haft’s large, full-color pieces delve into the world of cartoons and historically influenced art. Dylan Kraus (Pacing Tiger) offers unique, hand-poked tattoos inspired by traditional imagery. Jesus Antonio’s artworks specialize in black and grey and Fineline, emphasizing tattoos that are architecturally inspired — his Escher-like prints and photo-realistic lighthouses are particularly memorable.
Source: Smith Street Tattoo Parlour. See more on Smith Street’s Instagram.
Signs out front of this Carroll Gardens studio state “Look no Further, You’ve Found It!” and that is definitely the case if you’re looking for a high-quality NYC tattoo. The no-frills front reveals a gem once you step inside — Smith Street Tattoo Parlour is one of the most renowned tattoo parlors in the city.
And Artist, Bert Krak, and Steve Boltz founded SSTP in 2008. The dedicated team has served the highest-quality traditional tattoos since. The artist roster also includes Eli Quinters and Frank William. Fans come from all over the world for their “old-fashioned traditional American tattoos.”
Whether you’re looking for color-saturated designs or simple black and grey, the tattoos here stand out. The shop commits to tattoos that look good from the moment you get them to 20 years later, which often means simple designs with intense attention to detail.
In the same neighborhood as Smith Street, Removery has a tattoo removal studio. You can get your old tattoo faded for a cover up down the road. Book a free consultation with Removery today.
See more from their Instagram.
If you’re interested in being a part of NYC tattoo history, Daredevil Tattoo should be your first stop. This tattoo parlor on the Lower East Side opened in 1997, and the founders, Brad Fink and Michelle Myles, are dedicated to two things: turning out beautiful tattoos and ensuring that the tattoo history of NYC lives on.
The on-site Daredevil Tattoo Museum houses a collection of antique tattoo memorabilia, highlighting art and artifacts from the early years of modern tattooing. The owners even formed a non-profit organization, NYC Tattoo History, which is “dedicated to increasing public knowledge and appreciation of the history of tattooing.”
Fink’s designs definitely show his historical interest. His high-contrast Japanese-influenced artwork is rich in color and in eye-catching detail. Myles’ work includes delicate full-color pieces, with styles ranging from realism to cartoon-inspired.
Other shop standouts include Yoon, who specializes in chunky traditional or hyper-precision Fineline pieces, and Hillary Fisher White, who produces deeply pigmented cartoon-inspired work.
Another plus? Daredevil tattoo uses animal-free ink, making it 100% vegan friendly.
Source: JonBoy’s Instagram account. See more of JonBoy’s work on his Instagram.
No list of NYC tattoo studios and artists would be complete without mentioning JonBoy, the tattoo artist of choice for stars from Post Malone to Kylie and Kendall Jenner. The artist specializes in small, delicate Fineline tattoos, often on unique body parts. You can spot his craftsmanship on the fingers, feet, and faces of a long list of celebrity clients.
JonBoy values tattoos that merge art and fashion, ensuring that the meaning of your unique piece of art doesn’t get lost by a stuffy design. He’s the pioneer of the “tiny tattoo” movement on artists like G-Eazy, Travis Scott, and Justin Bieber. Remember the tiny cross tattoo near Bieber’s eye? That’s all JonBoy.
Source: Bullseye Tattoo, Victor Modafferi
The atmosphere at this Staten Island parlor is goth and glam, with black leather settees and black chandeliers to make you feel right at home. The style of the tattoos, though, is eclectic. These artists specialize in designing original tattoos just for you. Bullseye Tattoo artists are some of the best in NYC and can work from existing designs, materials, or just your general idea to come up with your next unique piece of artwork.
Victor Modafferi, who founded the shop in 2007, is known for his realistic black and grey tattoos, depicting everything from beloved pets to massive landscapes. His tattoo craftsmanship is so well-known, he’s featured on BIC lighters, temporary tattoos, and all kinds of other media! Another Bullseye artist, Cris Element, was featured on Ink Master Season 5. He specializes in realistic portraits, often with arresting pops of hyper-pigmented color.
Other shop standouts include Kathleen Martello, whose work includes delicate line-drawn flora and fauna and realistic skeletons, and George Puluse, who specializes in lettering and black/dot work.
The list above has just a sampling of all the incredible tattoo studios and artists that NYC has to offer. Of course, not every NYC tattoo can be a winner. Have a tattoo that reminds you of a decision you’d rather forget, or just want to clear some space for your new piece of New York art? Book a consultation with the tattoo removal specialists at Removery today.
We’re on a mission to give you the most straightforward, easy and efficient laser tattoo removal experience. Your estimate will be entirely bespoke to your tattoo; the size, the colours, the ink. It won’t take long and afterwards you’ll have a plan to finally get rid of your unwanted tattoo and get back to being you.
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