The tattoo scene is rapidly evolving around the world, and D.C. is no exception. More people are getting tattooed, more artists are tattooing, and tattoo subculture doesn’t just belong to the grizzly, hardened men your grandma warned you about. New boutique parlors are popping up that prioritize the client’s experience and the artistry of body modification. Whether you’re inked head to toe or waiting for the right first piece, you can find your perfect fit on our guide to D.C.’s best studios.
Cry Baby Studios
“Get the tattoo already, you big baby.” Tucked away in Dupont Circle, Cry Baby Studios is angling to change the traditional tattoo landscape. They market themselves as an inclusive, safe, and comfortable space — rather than the rock n’ roll intimidation that might come with entering other parlors in the city. But despite their nontraditional approach, the artists at Cry Baby are heavy hitters. Cry Baby has artists specializing in everything from bold color to delicate linework, each with their own tangible personality and flair. Keep an eye on co-founder and resident artist Simba Nyugen, a DMV native who is referred to as “the princess of florals.” Cry Baby Studios: 1700 Connecticut Ave NW, DC; crybabystudiosdc.com // @crybabystudiosdc
With three locations across the DMV, Tattoo Paradise’s iconic neon facade is best known as an Adams Morgan staple. Tattoo Paradise’s walls are floor to ceiling flash art, and the parlor has a dry humor of its own with painted front doors proclaiming “thousands of beautiful designs… and three ugly ones.” Illustrative and traditional style tattooing reigns supreme, with bold colorwork visible on every artist’s portfolio. Though an in-house piercer and rotating guest artists are perks, Tattoo Paradise’s cosmetic tattoo microblading service is unique in comparison to most older parlors. Tattoo Paradise: 2444 18th St. NW, DC; tattooparadisedc.com // @tattooparadisedc
Perhaps D.C.’s most well known tattoo studio, Fatty’s has been on the scene for a while (25 years, to be exact). They’ve been voted Best of D.C. for five years in a row, consistently delivering high quality tattoos across their three studios in D.C. and Maryland. Fatty’s is known for an impressive array of realism work, but houses artists who are skilled in illustrative, fine line, and blackwork as well. Their airy multi-level parlor spaces in Dupont and on H Street showcase a dedication to state of the art tattooing, in every aspect. Fatty’s Tattoos & Piercings: Multiple locations; fattystattoos.com // @fattystattoosandpiercings
For “good times and better tattoos,” hit up Embassy Tattoo in Adams Morgan. Specializations at this bright and cozy studio include realism, color, black & white, script, and cover-ups/Tatt2Away tattoo removal. Despite a lofty reputation, artists and staff alike at Embassy are kind, patient, and generous with their time — something that can be hard to come by in renowned studios. Pre-COVID, Embassy ran specials and daily flashes so popular that they often resulted in crowded lines looping out and around the second floor studio. With the end of the pandemic hopefully looming, we hope to be lining up outside Embassy again soon. Embassy Tattoo: 1762 Columbia Rd. NW, DC; embassytattoo.com // @embassytattoo
Electric Cat Scratch
A familiar institution to Shaw residents, Electric Cat Scratch offers the same high standard as other D.C. parlors with a relaxed, more familial environment. Made up of three resident artists and occasional guests, the atmosphere Electric Cat Scratch offers is no different from that of your neighborhood eatery, if your neighborhood eatery produced stunning, individualized pieces of art instead of meals. Resident Ellie Aiyana switches between styles fluidly, while guest artist Berto Santillan makes impressive use of negative space. Electric Cat Scratch: 505 Florida Ave. NW, DC; ecstattoos.com // @ecstattoos
Jinx Proof is a D.C. OG, up and running since 1996. They’re known for offering an incredibly wide range of styles, with a standing staff of eight local artists and frequent visits from internationally famous ones. Jinx Proof boasts an array of semi-private stations, with total privacy available upon request to make the tattoo appointment as comfortable as possible for you. Jinx Proof: 3285 ½ M St. NW, DC; jinxprooftattoos.com // @jinxprooftattoos
If you’re willing to toe the borders of D.C., head to Marlowe Ink in Fairfax, VA. This private studio hosts three artists, each stunning in their respective styles. Tara Shinn tattoos some of the most precise and well blended shading work in the game, while Anya Victoria’s use of movement in composition is absolutely breathtaking. Marlowe Ink: 10405 Main St. Fairfax, VA; marlowe-ink.com // @marloweinktattoo
Just around the corner from the University of Maryland in College Park, The Tattooery is a cozy spot with 100% traditional tattoo parlor vibes, from the mounted deer head behind the front desk to the waiting benches covered in a patchwork of indie grunge stickers. American Traditional pieces line the walls, but it’s certainly not the only thing they can do. With strong, steady linework and inventive flash designs, The Tattooery is an off-the-beaten-path favorite. The Tattooery: 7420 Baltimore Ave. College Park, MD; thetattooery.com // @thetattooery
Run by duo Susan Behny-Doyle and Eric Doyle, Globe Electric is newer on the scene, having opened in 2015 after both Doyles tattooed elsewhere in D.C. for 11 years. Unique, distinctive, and unpretentious, Globe Electric provides an environment where comfort and artistry are prized above all else. The shop is appointment-only to ensure that no distractions arise during the artist’s time with you, and any other interruptions you might encounter (ringing phones, rowdy clients, blaring rock music) won’t be a problem for them either. Globe Electric: 3821 14th St. NW, DC; globetattoodc.com // @globelectric
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