Tattoo parlors are often thought of as uninviting places but after visiting a few in London it is clear that their owners are clearly motivated to change the age old image of parlors being grimy intimidating places.
Many of the new tattoo shops strive to create inviting and engaging vibes as soon as you enter with efficient waiting areas, large selections of flash books to browse and comfortable seated areas to wait in.
Below is a selection of what are deemed to be the best tattoo shops in London, not just by me but by many other people on the web and in London itself. These are not really recommendations of where to get tattoos from as each place will be better suited to specific areas and styles of tattooing. Just suggestions of places in London to check if you are thinking about getting inked up!
General tattoo tips:
Booking – make sure you book in advance to keep to appointments
Choosing designs – people suggest keeping a copy of design for your new tattoo somewhere you will see if regularly like wallet/purse or bedside cabinet
Researching – make sure you do thorough research into designs and how you want your design to look, also make sure you are aware of what it means and any symbolism it may have!
Aftercare – don’t mess around with aftercare it’s just as important as getting a respected artist and tattoo shop no one wants to end up with a bad tattoo or permanent reminders of bad choices
The family business is one of London’s most famous tattoo shops and boasts a famous previous client list including the likes of Kate Moss. Mo Coppoletta, Saira Hunjan and Mie Sato are some of the best artists around. The shop caters for a wide range of tastes and even has a resident artist Dom Holmes specialising in old school designs.
The shop is welcoming and carries no pretension, not for the faint hearted or casual enquiries, this is a real shop with little time for time wasters. Always busy with a full roster of clients from all over the world it is best to book well in advance and get a couple of artist meetings before settling on a design.
The artists are easy to talk to and happy to work with suggestions and inspirations you may have and open to altering designs to fit exactly what you want. Prices may seem expensive but remember tattoos aren’t the kind of transaction to cut a deal on, basically you get what you pay for and Family Business is well worth the extra cash.
Into you has a massive reputation of innovative and unique artwork, most of which can be seen on their website. Nikole Lowe of London Ink fame also works at Into You and produces some spectacular Japanese styled designs. Again booking can by a long wait but then what do you expect from some of the best names in the business.
The shop again has a welcoming air when visiting and the staff are friendly and chatty once they have sized you up as real prospective clients and not just a passer by. A wide selection of art books are available to browse artists flash and past tattoos produced at the shop.
The Location of Into You has a strange feel about it. No sooner are you walking through business central Farringdon and Clerkenwell once you cross the doors of the shop you are transported into a vibrant inspirational little boutique of artwork and temptation.
The happy sailor is a cool little tattoo shop in the heart of Shoreditch on Hackney Road in trendy East London, offering a slice of the old school life from sailor jerry style tattoos and traditional artwork to pin up girls.
The shop has a strong maritime and pirate theme and also boasts a wide range of piecing services from nose, nipple and navels to ears, eyebrows and tragus piercing?! I’m not even sure what I tragus is to be honest.
Their website has an amazing design and will undoubtedly inspire a visit to the shop to find out more. The shop has two permanent artists James and Tota and ever changing guest artists. The vibe is surprisingly welcome and they have a wide selection of designs on offer to choose from put are also happy to discuss options in person. As usual a deposit is needed for work and ID is required before any guns hits skin.
Prick tattoo studios is a edgy raw shop on Old Street again in trendy East London. The shop features the work of Henry Hate and offers a wide range of tattoo styles and piercing. Prick is very clean and also features a sixty pound minimum job budget.
Prick is quite a popular parlour due to its fun style and edgy feel so booking is probably worth while. They do offer off the street appointments but it could be worth while dropping in and having a chat before setting up an appointment.
The longest established studio in Shoreditch, Prick are open to ideas and will cater specifically to what people want from their tattoo. The artwork displayed on their website showcases many different styles and backgrounds so it feels like they would be open to trying any sort of piece or style.
Frith street tattoo offer custom work from a wide range of artists including Aaron Hewitt, Xam and Claudia. The shop seems to be heavily focused upon producing award and acclaim winning work at the resident artists are often showcasing their needle work skills at various conferences and tattoo conventions.
The shop is located in the heart of Soho which makes for a pretty unique place to get inked. The shop doesnt operate a minimum price and is open to pieces of all sizes and is an ideal place to get a first tattoo and to visit as an introduction in the world of tattoos.
Also as the parlour showcases a wide range of artists their will be someone specifically suitable for certain designs and as such you will get to talk to someone with a lot of experience about your ideas and themes. It sounds like an obvious thing to say but get chatting to your artist first and let them know what you like and themes so they can incorporate it into your designs.