If you’re jonesing for a tattoo this summer, you’re in luck: this city’s got a bunch of top-notch parlors to choose from and they’re all as distinct as the neighborhoods where you’ll find them. But do your research.
Everlasting Art Tattoo Studio
400 S. 43rd St.
Located right by campus at 43rd and Pine, this shop may look humble from the outside, but Everlasting offers up high-quality tattoos at a reasonable price (starting minimum is $50). Serving all pockets of West Philadelphia, the artists are comfortable with a wide range of styles. They also boast some specialties like portrait work and black and gray shading. If you’re interested in the latter, make sure to ask for Eric.
No Ka Oi Tiki Tattoo
610 S. 4th St.
Body Graphics Inc. Portside Parlor
30 S. 2nd St.
These two spots share 25 rotating artists with two other affiliate parlors in the city (they’re both owned by the Body Graphics tattoo and piercing company). What sets this pair apart is popularity and trademark styles: No Ka Oi Tiki is designed as a Hawaiian spa in the South Street District (known for its concentration of tattoo shops), while the Portside Parlor fits into its Olde City surroundings with a polished art gallery setup.
Olde City Tattoo
44 S. 2nd St.
All it takes is one visit to the store (or web site, for that matter) to know that Olde City Tattoo is the province of some real goofy guys. But goofiness doesn’t make them any less committed to their craft. Their seven artists have expertise and character in spades — if you want proof, just check out the book of sea monster art, sketches and tattoos recently put out by two members of the Olde City crew.
Art Machine Productions
1345 Frankford Avenue
Just last year, Art Machine Productions was voted best Philadelphia tattoo studio by channel 17’s Philly Hot List, which gives you good reason to journey out to Fishtown. Part art gallery, part studio, Art Machine’s got six resident artists who can take on any style from nature-themed or traditional to “new school” or Asian-influenced. They also feature visiting artists, and someone is always available to take walk-ins. But take note, all appointments require a $100 deposit, no exceptions.
THE STRAIGHT SHOOTERS
Northern Liberty Tattoo
823 N. 2nd St.
Even with only three resident artists, this parlor up in Northern Liberties has received some glowing reviews. Their attitude is no-frills but attentive — and very open to first-timers — so if that sounds like your vibe, this might just be the spot for you.
- Your research! Pretty much everything about a tattoo—the cost, the timing, the design—will be fleshed out by talking to your artist (and shop managers can be good resources to help you find a match). Prices vary and individual artists may book on different schedules, so the best thing to do is ask.
- Go to a parlor that’s not on Yelp
- Impulse buy. Just because you’re feeling adventurous and have walked by a few parlors on South Street or in Chinatown does not mean it’s time to go under the needle.
- Believe that Infinite Body Piercing on 4th St. does tattoos. Lots of people say they do, but they’re strictly piercing, as the name suggests.