Los Angeles is a city known for its palm tree-lined boulevards and star-studded affairs, as well as its bevy of tattoo parlors. For locals looking for fresh ink and visitors for a memento that will last a lifetime, Los Angeles tattoo parlors are as diverse as the attitudes and scenes found throughout the city. Here are a few of our favorites.
Broken Art Tattoo
Broken Art Tattoo opened its doors in August of 2005, and has had no shortage of patrons since then. Located in Silver Lake, the up-and-coming borough of Los Angeles that young culture lovers flock to, Broken Art is one of the hidden gems highly recommended by L.A. locals and tattoo aficionados. Its basement location only heightens the mythos of a tattoo shop that has, in less than a decade, established a strong reputation with a notoriously critical population. Now, some of the finest tattoo artists have emerged from the B.A.T. basement. Added bonus: the basement is walking distance from Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea—a café favorite among Los Angeles hipster and failed-screenwriter elite.
Body Electric Tattoo
Located in the heart of Hollywood, Body Electric Tattoo has made its name as a world famous house for specialized artistic tattoo design, consulting and piercing services. Its veteran staff of artists (with a combined 100 years worth of tattooing experience) has made Body Electric one of the city’s most well known establishments without the benefit of a reality television crew (more on that later). However, while the staff is known for their ability to appropriate a bevy of tattoo styles sharply (meaning that your questionable drawing skills will suffice and probably look even better once they put ink to skin), it’s their equally skilled piercing skills that have helped develop their brand. Body Electric stocks only high-grade body jewelry from manufacturers exclusively in the United States. They also provide safe and clean infant and toddler ear lobe piercings, just in case your child is ready to start their rebellious phase a little early.
High Voltage Tattoo Shop
High Voltage Tattoo is, for those in the know, the setting of TLC’s incredibly popular L.A. Ink TV Shoaw, and home to Kat Von D, owner, model and all around tattooed goddess if you’re into that sort of thing. While the shop’s popularity has made both the wait list (two months at least) and the price (a $200 minimum) skyrocket, the quality of work has yet to be argued. West Hollywood is the site of many shops of varying quality, but Von D and co. have carved their niche as the go-to for high-profile celebrities, with clientele as varied as Lady Gaga and Lamar Odom. However, High Voltage’s biggest bit of legend has nothing to do with celebrities at all: Kat Von D broke the Guinness World Record of most tattoos given by a single person in 24 hours, clocking in at a total of 400 in a single sitting. That should make even the biggest needlephobe confident that the folks at High Voltage know exactly what they’re doing.
While there is no shortage of tattoo parlors around Los Angeles proper, what may be hard to find is a tattoo shop that isn’t overly preoccupied with reminding you that it’s a tattoo shop. Often décor and attitude may prove to be a breaking point for those still wavering on the idea of a tattoo—all of which makes Timeless Tattoo a favorite among Los Angeles residents looking for quality without pretentiousness. Connor Garritty built Timeless from the ground up, and his intention was, to quote him, “to make a comfortable tattooing environment with no ego.” He succeeded; today, Timeless has a steady stream of customers, who always respond positively to an atmosphere that prioritizes client comfort over anything else. Also worth noting is the parlors proximity to Café Gratitude, a well-known California favorite, as well as a perfect extension of the Timeless Tattoo ethos.
Zulu Tattoo is more than just a parlor. It is, as they’re likely to remind you repeatedly, a tribe. Creativity, uniqueness and tolerance are the hallmarks of Zulu, and while the latter may sound like a curious addition to a tattoo parlor’s statement of purpose, Zulu is a tattoo parlor unlike any other. They’ve been celebrated for their notably diverse clientele, and have prided themselves on expert collaboration with their clients, always working with them to find “a custom design fitted for them alone.” Co-owner Khani Zulu is often the most coveted artist (having been featured in a number of established tattoo art publications), but Zulu’s collection of expert artists all make it the ideal parlor ready for a memorable tattooing experience. The long wait list (often requiring a booking six-weeks in advance) is always cited as worth it. And when it comes to what Zulu calls “the sacred markings,” why settle for anything less?
Arts Devotion (DevOcean)
Venice Beach is one of Los Angeles’s classic spots, a must-visit for any tourist looking for the classic California visual. Arts Devotion (DevOcean) is a high-end custom studio located right in the heart of Venice but right outside the madness of the boardwalk. The parlor’s emphasis on clean, professional and studio quality work has made it stand out amidst a huge selection of parlors in Venice. Arts Devotion has also set a new standard for studio sterilization, marking itself as a 100 percent disposable studio with all needles and tubes freshly opened upon appointment and disposed right after. The studio’s diverse clientele (from Venice locals to some of Hollywood’s biggest names) and great rates and hours (open seven days a week) have made Arts Devotion a favorite.