Dear PoPville – Tattoo Artist Recs?

Photo by PoPville flickr user julianne’s

“Dear PoP,

It’s been over 2 years since this post about tattoo parlor recommendations.

I’m looking to get my first tattoo at the end of the month. I have my own design so I need a good tattoo artist that can draw it (it’s not that complicated, but I don’t want them to mess up some of the details). Any updated suggestions?”

Anyone have any good recs in DC.

Ed. Note: Not everyone is a fan of tattoos and that’s ok. However, if they don’t interest you no need to offer unsolicited criticism about the art itself – there will be a new post in 30 minutes! Also, I’d love to restart the seasonal tattoo series so if anyone has a really good/interesting one and you’d like to share a photo and some details about it, please send an email to princeofpetworth(at)gmail

36 Comment

  • I love the Editor’s Note, anticipating all of the negative comments.

    Anyway, I have no “tats”, but I see a lot of people at one on U Street near 9th. Don;t know if it’s good or not, but it looks clean and respectable.

  • Nikki at Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan (if she’s still there). I went to her three years ago and my work still looks like new — literally, people ask me when I got it. She was quick, friendly, and drew what I wanted as I explained it.

  • James at Bethesda Tattoo. I got one done in 2006 and it still looks great. My roommate just had a cover-up done by Lea which was fantastic. I am planning another trip there in a few weeks.

    • I’ve scoped out Bethesda Tattoo for Tattoo #2 for me. I love their shop–everyone’s really friendly and the have some artists who produce some quality work.
      I just need to grow a pair and get it done 🙂

    • James is doing mine in June. My first. Glad he and Bethesda Tattoo come highly recommended.

    • James did my entire back piece… Great work and I get compliments all the time

    • Good to know! I’ve been looking at Lea’s work and I need a cover up done. My last big piece was done there, but the artist (Hansi Jessup) gave up tattooing about 5 years ago (at last I heard), but I loved the shop.

  • Go see Lea at Bethesda Tattoo. She is absolutely amazing! She can draw very well, she created both of mine,(drawn by her – sourced by multiple photographs – they are medium sized) which I couldn’t be happier with. I have had one for 3 years and another for 2 years. I have never needed a touch up and they still look fantastic. I have no complaints and she is very knowledgeable and professional.

  • houseintherear

    Dee, at Great Southern's one shop in College Park and one in Arlington) is absolutely fantastic. The shop has been around for a long time and has a solid reputation, and Dee’s parents were actually the original owners. She has done 90% of my tattoos, and almost all of them were her own drawings. She even did a scar coverup on my arm that is just plain amazing.

    It’s a down home shop, but once you get past the normal 20-year-old-holier-than-thou desk clerk, you get to the good stuff: Dee.

    Unfortunately, she’s booked way in advanced. The best way to get her is to go into the shop with some printouts and drawings to leave with her, and set up an appointment. She can sometimes email you her drawings before the appointment, or if you just show up on appointment day she’ll have lots of options drawn out to pick from.

  • I STRONGLY recommend Sean Bajek. He was at Great Southern Tattoo (College Park and Alexandria) but has since moved on to Saints and Sinners in fells point, Baltimore. If you’ve got a car and don’t mind a short drive, I suggest seeing him. I’ve had multiple hand-drawn pieces done by him and would go nowhere else.

    I’ve also recommended him to others who have LOVED their results. But good luck!

  • andy

    If you have your own design and it’s just a matter of tracing it, does it actually matter who you go to? I assume anyone in the business should be competent to retrace your design as a tattoo. Right?

    • Emmaleigh504

      True, but a good artist can tell you what to change to make the best art. Sometimes little things need to be altered to make it work as a tattoo.

      • andy

        Ah yes. If I trusted my own artistic instincts I would be the victim of some cringeworthy body art.

    • There’s also skill in actually performing the work — using the tattoo machine takes accuracy, precision and skill. They need to know how to layer/blend colors, how much to use, how deep/shallow to go. And believe it or not, some artists will give more or less painful tattoos than others (called having a “heavy hand”/”light hand”).

  • I recommend Liaa and Paul at BritishInk on H St., NE. They are both amazing artists.

    • Everyone at BritishInk is incredibly talented. Liaa did a full leg piece for me – did an awesome job and was really great through the whole process.

      The philosophy of the shop is custom tattoos only, so that may fit with what you are looking to have done.

      Can’t recommend that shop enough – great tattoo experience!

    • I totally agree on the crew at British Ink…both Cynthia and Liaa do amazing work! They are entirely custom focused but they all book up pretty fast so you may have to do some waiting for an appointment.

    • Yes, Liaa Walters at British Ink did my first tattoo and it was lovely (both the tattoo itself and working with her). She was helpful in planning it. She gave her artistic advice but never pressured me to change what I wanted. I would highly recommend Liaa (but the whole studio seemed awesome).

  • Liaa at British Ink! She does fabulous work. Can’t recommend her enough!

  • Emmaleigh504

    I got a great one at Jinx Proof in Georgetown. I think my artist was Tim Corun. He was great at taking what I wanted and suggesting little adjustments to make it better, for example, the red he picked for mine is perfect for my skin tone.

    • me

      Jinx Proof is pretty overpriced. I’ve gotten a couple from Juan at Tattoo Paradise in Adams Morgan- he’s pretty decent. I have heard that the tattoos at Fatty’s (or is that spelled with a “z”?) are really good, too.

      • Emmaleigh504

        I agree, they can be spendy, but I’m happy with the work they did and the price I paid.

      • +1. I got my second one there when I was new to the city and compared to feedback I’ve heard about other places (ie those listed previously) has been better, better service and better prices. Jinx Proof didn’t seem that interested in the customer service aspect (which I would expect when getting something that’s lasting a lifetime) and my tiny tattoo was way overpriced vs. other work I’ve had done. Live and learn but for the next one I’m going elsewhere…

  • Folsom Prison

  • Is that Corey Feldman?!

  • Imani @ Penz & Needlez on Vermont & U Street.

    • I still hate the owner of that place for calling the cops on me for waiting outside the shop for it to open. Apparently, I looked like hooker in jeans and my winter coat. If he’d opened the shop on time I wouldn’t have been waiting outside in the first place!

  • When making your appointment you should also make one for laser removal in 20 years–they will be quite busy!

  • Eric Doyle at Jinx Proof did my most recent one, and I’m very pleased with both the work and the price. His wife, Susan, has an amazing portfolio too but she’s never tattooed me personally.

  • Damon at Rick’s Tattoo in Arlington is really good. He just did my most recent tat about 2 months ago. Very friendly and helpful with ideas and suggestions.

  • Chris Trevino
    Austin, TX

  • Robie at Britishink. He did an amazing coverup of an old, small, faded tattoo for me. Their work is all custom, no flash, so you know you’re getting something that’s unique and special. Robie is a great artist and was able to turn my vague concept of “I like peonies…and any color except yellow” into a beautiful tattoo. I also briefly met Paul and Cynthia, who were also super nice and have amazing portfolios of work.

  • Susan and Tim at jinx Proof are AMAZING! You get what you pay for and it’s worth every penny!

  • With the proliferation of tattoos these days, I sure do see an awful lot of really bad ones.

    Frankly, I’m a bit disappointed that you’re promoting this fad with posts like this and the aforementioned “sweet tattoo of the week” features that are coming back. Maybe you could instead feature something a little less permanent, like “sweet henna of the week”?

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