With the amount of tattoo parlors lining the streets of LA, sometimes the hardest decision isn’t the design, but the artist. Whether looking for a more traditional piece to cover a small section of skin or if you want to turn your body into a blank canvas and work on it like Michelangelo on the Sistine Chapel, these are the perfect places to get inked from Venice to East LA.
Photo | courtesy of Memoir Tattoo
Opened by Kim Saigh and Shawn Barber in 2009, Memoir Tattoo is one of those places where you can’t just walk in off the street. The studio works mostly by appointment and is an intimate space surrounded by tattoo art creations in the making. The artists are usually busy a few weeks in advance because they take their work seriously and understand the magnitude of putting something on your body that will last forever. While every artist has their own style, Kim (a former artist on the LA Ink TV show) specializes in vibrant colors, decorative signs and anything inspired from nature. Shawn is more drawn towards painting and portraiture.
If you don’t already have a design in mind, the portfolios of the artists at True Tattoo are bound to inspire you. From classic tattoos to modern or quirky ones, the artists live up to their names by offering clean and exciting work. They provide limited walk-ins, but customers with an appointment get priority.
A tattoo artist since 1991, Misha opened her private appointment only custom studio to provide a more personalized space for her customers, especially since her area of expertise is covering up tattoos, scars and stretch marks on many varieties of skin types and colors. For Misha, covering up tattoos is a challenge to bring out the best look for each customer and making them love a part of their body again. She works with clients to make sure that the new tattoo will never need a cover-up job again.
The owner of Broken Art Tattoo, Jeremy Swan, has been inking skin and perfecting his technique since 1994. His studio now features five artists, each with different styles so every customer is bound to find the one that they connect with the best. From clean lines and solid colors to more artistic watercolor-like tattoos, Broken Art offers something for every taste.
Unbreakable Tattoo is one of those super creative spaces for both the so-called cool people and the ones with the nerdier hobbies. Going on the principle that nerdy is the new cool, this shop brings to life tattoos inspired by things like World of Warcraft, manga, comic books or anything else you might be into.
A Los Angeles gem for more than 15 years, American Electric Tattoo is one of those customer friendly, relaxed places that’s perfect for a first tattoo, as the artists will ease your fears and work with you on getting the best design for your skin. The owner, Craig Jackman, has been tattooing for over 40 years and is a veteran of the LA Ink reality TV show. The customers feel welcomed and at ease from the moment they walk into the shop.
Right in the heart of Venice, this unique tattoo parlor has only women artists and provides customers with piercing services in addition to inking their skin. The all female staff provides a more sensitive and nurturing environment, as well as a positive vibe. While they do take walk-ins, the space/time is quite limited due to a backlog of appointments. It’s better to make an appointment beforehand to ensure you have enough time for the consultation and the work itself.
While a trip to the valley may not be the perfect way for a true Angeleno to spend some time, Studio City Tattoo is definitely worth the drive, especially if you’re looking to turn your body into a large canvas for your next masterpiece. Featuring ten in-house artists, customers can easily find something that fits their needs from the more classic designs to the well-known delicate feathers that artist Mike Erwin has become known for.
Right in the heart of Hollywood and led by tattoo artist, Mark Mahoney, Shamrock Social Club is not your average tattoo parlor. Out of all the tattoo shops in LA, this one is the most likely to satisfy the need for a celebrity chance encounter, as the clients include Rihanna, Lady Gaga and David Beckham. However, the artists are extremely private about their clients so there’s no chance of finding out any local gossip there.
Featuring mostly traditional style tattoos, the artists at Alchemy Tattoo bring ideas to life in a lively and clean environment in Silver Lake, and use the best inks that are guaranteed to last a lifetime. The studio takes a limited amount of walk-ins, but as with most places, appointments take priority so customers are encouraged to book in advance, especially if they’re looking for larger size pieces.