Tattoos are a highly personal decision, but whether you love them or hate them, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t at least wondered what they’d look like with a tattoo. Everything they say is true, we’ll admit it: Once you start, you just can’t stop getting inked. (Sorry, mom.) The thing is, tattoos are kind of permanent, so you want to go somewhere you trust… and we’ve done the research for you! Whether you’re adding to the collection or contemplating your first, these NYC artists know their shit. Below, find our guide to tattoos artists delivering both talent and style.
Tea Leigh didn’t set out to become a tattoo artist, but thanks to social media, her stick ‘n’ poke method has stuck. Leigh is an illustrator by trade, and once a few of her designs racked up some likes, she became in high demand. Leigh should be your first stop for clean lines, impressive shading, and quirky designs (think florals, animals, and human extremities). One of her tattoos will turn part of your body into a work of art, guarantee.
Marina Heintze’s vivid designs stand out among a sea of black and white lines. Her wacky, animalistic style can be found at her private Bushwick studio, MEATTT, INC. Not for the faint of heart, Heintze’s work is the adventurous way to make a statement (just imagine how great it’ll look in fashion week photos!). If you’re in the market for a cool, creepy, and cute conversation-starting piece, look no further than Heintze. (And be sure to check her shop’s Instagram for weekend deals on tiny tats!)
Jonathan “JonBoy” Valena puts out delightfully minimal designs at his shop, West 4 Tattoo. His signatures are delicate script pieces and teensy tiny geometric figures. Impressively, JonBoy has no formal training, but his body of work speaks for itself. With years of experience under his belt, this artist’s tasteful designs will have you scrolling through Instagram for hours. And of course, JonBoy’s shop makes for a great experience whether it’s your first or fifth tattoo.
One of the most annoying tattoo questions you can get is “Is that real!?” With one of Georgia Grey’s designs, however, it’s a compliment. Grey is a resident artist at tattoo royalty Keith McCurdy’s LES studio, Bang Bang, where she creates Met-worthy masterpieces. If you’ve been lusting after a watercolor design, Grey just might be the artist for you. Her colorful, feminine work is a must for the creative type.
If you have a flair for the mystic, you might find yourself at home in Minka Slickinger’s chair at Three Kings Tattoo. The Netherlands-born, Brooklyn-based artist infuses her tattoos with her world-traveler spirit. Her works are highly symbolic, featuring common elements such as moons, eyes, and animals. Slickinger’s one-of-a-kind tattoos are a little bit witchy, and a whole lotta badass.
There’s something to be said for someone who can master the “Sailor Jerry”-style tattoo. It may seem like you can get one anywhere, but Virginia Elwood really stands out as one of the few female artists practicing this traditional style. Bold lines, bright colors, and playfully classic images dot her portfolio. Elwood does a lot of dog portraits that showcase her shading, if you’re looking to commemorate your pup.
Featured image by Vanessa Granda