Tattoo Artists in New York City You Need to Know
In a city where many locals have a creative side, some New Yorkers choose to wear their art on their sleeve. Those individuals turn to New York City’s top tattoo artists to produce wearable art that blurs the line between creator and creation. For those thinking about inking, here are the tattoo artists in New York City you need to know.
Keith "Bang Bang" McCurdy
Inked elites, such as Rihanna and Cara Delevingne, swear by Keith “Bang Bang’” McCurdy, owner of local parlor Bang Bang NYC
and tattooer to the stars. Known for his realist designs, McCurdy cites photographs as a source of inspiration, a fitting attraction considering how popular his celeb creations are with paparazzi.
Brooklyn-born Sue Jeiven
, also known as “Sweet Sue,” helped legalize tattooing in Massachusetts before returning to her native New York in 2009. Today, the resident at East River Tattoo is known across the Northeast (particularly in Boston, where she opened the award-winning Regeneration Tattoo) for her black engraving line work and customized designs.
The stick-and-pokes of your youth are all grown up at Welcome Home, a North Greenpoint tattoo shop co-founded by standout creator Tea Leigh. Leigh’s portfolio of subtle hand-poked designs features flowers, fruits, tarot images, and even portraits of clients’ pets. With the goal to help clients feel empowered by body art, Welcome Home provides an experience, not just a service.
Perhaps a remnant of his technical past, Scott Campbell
’s designs are characterized by their monochromatic and highly intricate style. At Saved Tattoo in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, owner and operator Campbell works on celeb clients, such as Marc Jacobs and Helena Christensen. Campbell’s colorful history, which comprises an abandoned career as a biochemist and a six-week stay in a Mexico City maximum-security prison, helps form his unique point of view in his role as one of New York City’s top artists.
You can’t look away from Brooke Herr’s creations, which is convenient considering many of her abstract designs require a second look. Herr’s airy, hand-poked tattoos have included wisps of lavender, softly scribbled sigils, and barely there female silhouettes. A must for minimalists, Herr’s subtle, organic work gives new meaning to the phrase “second skin.”
For traditional tattoos, New Yorkers rely on longtime local artist Rob Banks
. During his tenure as an East River Tattoo resident, Banks has perfected skulls, roses, all-American eagles, lettering, and other tattoo mainstays.
Rukus’ work will remind you that tattoos are meant to be fun. Colorful (and occasionally confusing) designs, such as a mummy riding a dinosaur, a friendly reminder to “call your mother,” and animated characters from Bob’s Burgers and The Simpsons, form the core of Rukus’ repertoire. Also specializing in bright, abstract designs, this traveling tattoo artist will make you look twice.
Crawling insects, detailed skulls, and female portraits featuring sharp-drawn eyebrows and contempt-filled gazes are what you’ll find in Tamara Santibañez
’s portfolio. The Saved Tattoo resident has made waves (and earned upwards of 55,000 social media followers) with her black-and-grey tattoo work, inspired by Chicano culture, BDSM iconography, and fine art prints.