The art of tattooing has been around for centuries, but over the past decade or so the rise of reality TV shows focusing on tattoos has seen artists become as famous as singers and movie stars. These celebrity artists are undoubtedly talented, but, there are hundreds of other equally skilled tattooists out there creating beautiful work that also deserves to be seen by the masses.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of seven of the best tattooists to watch out for in the United States.
Kat von D is probably the most famous tattoo artist in the world, and her High Voltage studio in West Hollywood is well-known for being the setting of the reality show, LA Ink. She’s not the only incredibly talented artist inking clients there, though: Nate Fierro has been part of her team for over a decade and his detailed and vibrant work has rewarded him with a huge Instagram following.
Nate is heavily focused on the drawing process to ensure that each of his creations is unique. His specialties are illustrative neo-traditional Americana and Japanese, and he’s known for creating bright and bold tattoos in both color and black and grey.
Another contender for the most famous tattooist in the world is Keith, better known as Bang Bang. He’s marked the skin of some of the most famous people in the world in some of the craziest places, including Rihanna in the tropics, Cara Delevingne on a roof, and Justin Bieber on a private plane.
Keith owns two tattoo studios called Bang Bang in NYC, and he regularly has celebrities in his chair but customers with patience can join his waiting list, too. The work he creates spans several genres and his projects range from small finger tattoos to large sleeves and stomach designs.
LA-based artist Tati Compton is well-known for her stick and poke style of tattooing. Her lines are delicate and her themes play with the witchy and the mystical.
When she first started tattooing it was simply for the experience of trying something new, and she didn’t care much about how they turned out. This casual approach developed into the DIY artwork that Tati’s now famous for, and her appointment book is packed full of clients wanting one of her magical designs.
If you like Tati’s designs but don’t want to commit to getting one inked on your skin for eternity, her book contains over 800 of her illustrations that you can enjoy without any needles or pain.
Erick is an award-winning artist that specializes in black and gray artwork. His realism has to be seen to be believed, and his portrait work is truly photo-realistic. Erick started tattooing fairly recently in 2011 and has quickly grown a huge following at the Tattoo Dojo studio that he works for in Atlanta.
Most of the projects Erick works on are large-scale pieces such as back pieces, leg sleeves and torsos, but it’s not unknown for him to take on a smaller project if they’re creative and interesting. Check out his work with classical paintings and sculptures on his Instagram feed, they’re seriously spectacular.
This Chicago-based tattoo artist is popular for her strong black lines, vibrant watercolors, and neo-traditional wildlife illustrations. She was featured in Ink Masters season 8 which put her work on the map, and the gradients in her colors are said to be some of the best in the industry.
Carolyn first got into tattooing by drawing designs for her high school friends, and after being excited to see her illustrations on her fellow students she decided to learn how to tattoo them herself.
She’s now been working for seven years and is known as the Lady Tattooer at the highly respected Mayday Tattoo Co.
Luar has a long history of tattooing and first picked up a gun back in 1994. He’s owned Ancient Ink in Texas since 2004 and is renowned for his work with the art of Japanese Tebori tattooing (tattoos done by hand rather than by machine).
Luar was taught by world-class artist Horimaru in Japan and he continuously travels back and forth between the US and Japan to continue to enhance his skills.
Originally from Mexico, Luar also works with traditional Mayan and Mesoamerican designs from the Yucatan Peninsular in which he grew up.
Rene is the least-known artist on our list, but her work deserves a mention. She works out of Pinos Bros Inks which is consistently rated as one of the best studios in Boston, and she’s definitely one to watch.
After a brief stint in metalwork, Rene switched her attention to tattooing and joined Pinos Bros Ink in 2017 to work under renowned artist John Meredith. Rene’s work is neo-traditional, fine lines, and heavy black and gray designs are particularly eye-catching.
If you’re in the Boston area and are looking for new ink, book in with Rene now before word gets out about her and her appointment book fills up.
Whenever you’re looking to get a new tattoo, make sure that you choose an artist with a great reputation and a portfolio that you can check out ahead of time. It can be frustrating to wait a long time for an appointment with your chosen artist, but it’s definitely worth being patient rather than settling for an artist whose work you don’t love.
Who’s your favorite tattoo artist? Let us know in the comments.