Ah, tattoos. Fresh ink, skin that tells a story, the striking permanence of spontaneity, an art form that has truly taken hold of the latest generations. Most people can either go on and on about their opposition to tattoos or will be searching their phone frantically to show you their idea for their upcoming addition to their arm, or foot, or wherever, as soon as the topic comes up. Love them or hate them, though, they are certainly a part of today’s culture. There are tattoo shops with long wait lists, artists with obsessive followers on Instagram, many boards on Pinterest dedicated to dreaming up the ideal ink, and more. And if you’re looking to get in on the trend in the District, you can consider yourself lucky – we’re home to some pretty amazing, skilled, and renowned tattoo artists. So, where exactly can you sign yourself up for your next add-on to your sleeve or be pushed over the edge for your first ink? Here are some of the most well-known (and well-loved) tattoo parlors in our neck of the woods.
With a name like Fatty’s, you’ve got to deliver – and this tattoo and piercing parlor does. They’ve long been a mainstay of the District’s hip and happening scene, and were even voted “Best Tattoo Parlor” in Washington City Paper’s Readers’ Choice Best of DC survey this year.
Fatty’s has been encouraging body art and piercings in the Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia area since 1996, now operating three locations that can be found dotted along the Metro’s Red line. According to their website, they have been featured in publications beyond the DC mainstays such as NPR, Newsweek, Fox & Friends, Inked Magazine, Tattoo Magazine, and more.
With the setting here being reminiscent of an art gallery, the walls covered in work from local artists, it’s no surprise that this place focuses on the body art they produce and the award-winning artists behind it all. Their tattoos are one-of-a-kind, as they believe each tattoo should be “as unique as the person wearing it.” They take pride in not copying any existing tattoos and putting out quality work that will have you rolling up your sleeve looking for canvas space in no time. From the sound of their Yelp reviews, they’re pretty good at giving safe, on-point piercings as well.
Situated in downtown Frederick, Maryland, Black Label Tattoo Company describes itself as “ a collective of individuals committed to bringing our brand of high caliber tattooing to beautiful, historic, downtown Frederick.” Although many tattoo shops double as a place to get pierced, Black Label focuses solely on tattoos in order to give clients the best possible inking experience. A scroll through some of the artists’ work is sure to give way to any itch for ink. Reviews on Yelp mention fair pricing as a perk, as well!
This tattoo parlor also offers piercings and tooth gems, which I wasn’t aware was a thing. Their website is pretty minimalistic, but following along on Instagram, it’s pretty easy to see that their work speaks for itself. With more than 150 Yelp reviews, the spot still scores a 5-star rating with mentions of excellent customer service, professionalism, and perhaps most importantly, impressive artistic talent. Dr. Z, one of the mainstay artists here, specializes in super fine line work.
Tattoo Paradise is another shop in the DC area with more than one location to chose from. The three parlors under their umbrella can be found in the heart of Adams Morgan in Wheaton, and in Rockville. The brand’s mark on the DC tattoo scene spans over a decade, with roots in the area beginning as early as 2003. Their shop has praise for an impressive list of in-house tattooers as well as an always revolving list of guest artists that pop in from all over the world. If you peruse their Instagram, you’ll see impressive line work mixed with some cool colored pieces. Their Facebook page is filled with rave reviews from everyone, ranging from customers who got their first time ink to connoisseurs.
Of course, in a place like DC, this list only begins to cover it. If you’ve gotten a tattoo in the DC area, do tell! Where’d you go, what’d you get, and how was your experience?