(Don’t Get This One)
Want to get a tattoo in Los Angeles? You’re in one of the best cities to do so on earth. Although Los Angeles is home of the “jailhouse style” (black and gray fine line) tattoos, shops here specialize in everything from tribal designs to one-of-a-kind works of art designed specifically for each patron and each bicep. Here are some of the city’s top tattoo parlors, from the über-artsy to the super tough and the cool and comfortable.
Mr. Cartoon’s Skid Row Tattoo Shop – 129 E. 6th Street
One of the best ink spots on the West Coast for black and gray fine line California-style tattoos, Mr. Cartoon’s Skid Row Tattoo Shop is an Los Angeles legend. Tucked away in the thick of downtown LA’s artist district, Mr. Cartoon’s Tattoo shop is as original as his designs, a perfect parlor decorated with airbrushed details and Estevan Oriol photos, set next to a garage that houses a sweet collection of classic cars. With a steady hand and calm demeanor, Mr. Cartoon creates one-of-a-kind tattoos and applies them with a free hand, flowing technique – which he has done for celebrities such as 50 Cent, Eminem and Dr. Dre.
American Electric Tattoo – 3532 Sunset Boulevard
American Electric Tattoo is in the heart of Silver Lake and comes complete with hipster décor such as taxidermied animals and plenty of portfolios and books for artistic inspiration. Despite the fact that American Electric was featured on the television series LA Ink, you won’t find any Hollywood attitude here, just talented artists getting down to work. The friendly staff and fair prices at this tattoo shop make it an ideal choice for first timers – and no reservations are required.
Black Wave Tattoo – 118 S. La Brea Avenue
Want a tribal armband? Black Wave Tattoo is the place to go. The shop’s founder Leo Zulueta helped to popularize tribal tattooing in the United States, and his protégé and current owner Su’a Sulu’ape FreeWind continues the contemporary neo-tribal push. All designs are culturally accurate, and you can choose to get inked with a modern gun machine or by hand tools with traditional tattooing methods. Tap, tap, tap!
Zulu Tattoo – 165 S. Crescent Heights Boulevard
Find your sacred mark at Zulu Tattoo in Mid-City West, which combines good vibes with a professional atmosphere for a top-notch tattooing experience. Bruce Willis, Janet Jackson and Queen Latifah all sport a custom design from Zulu, a true philosopher of his craft and something of an ink-soaked shaman. The red and black tones of the tattoo shop offer a warm welcome and a positive ambience that many tattoo shops lack, and with a comforting, spiritual slant, Zulu Tattoo is a good choice for those who are undergoing the tattoo ritual as a rite of passage.
Body Electric Tattoo – 7274 ½ Melrose Avenue
“The World Famous” Body Electric Tattoo has been going strong in LA since 1992 and has a strong roster of artists who can adorn your skin with ink in any style, including tribal, anime, biomechanical, Japanese, realism and traditional Americana. Also piercing specialists, Body Electric Tattoo has a large selection of body jewelry and skin adornment options for those who need a few more holes in their body.
Art & Soul Tattoo Company – 2600 S. Robertson Boulevard
Like a neighborhood corner stop that sells ink instead of milk, Art & Soul Tattoo has been part of the city’s tattoo culture since 1996. Art & Soul is not your ordinary tattoo shop with clip art of butterflies on the walls; here they specialize in religious tattoos, sacred scripts and fine line drawings of gods and goddesses, Each interested inkee is matched by style and attitude with one of the shop’s skillful artists who come from all over the world.
Alchemy Tattoo – 3321 W. Sunset Boulevard
Patient and unpretentious, Alchemy Tattoo in Silver Lake is a small, friendly shop that offers random holiday specials such as discounts on Friday the 13th or free ice cream face tattoos on National Ice Cream Day. With heaps of experience and the portfolios to prove it, the artists here are kind and professional and will make you feel as chilled out as possible while getting a needle rammed repeatedly into your body.
Broken Art Tattoo – 2400 Hyperion Avenue
With a calm, bar-like atmosphere, leather couches and heaps of portfolios to linger over, Broken Art Tattoo is a place you might want to hang out even if you weren’t getting inked. Beautiful and artful, the shop even has a small bar in case you need a dose of liquid courage before getting that tiger inked on your back. Prices are fair and competitive, and you won’t find a smidgen of attitude at this comfortable