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Arts and Entertainment

The Best Tattoo Shops In Los Angeles

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By Lauren Candia

Your body is a canvas. Some people take a minimalist approach to body ownership, but for those of us who have taken on major body alteration projects, Los Angeles is one of the best places to be! Many award-winning and world-renowned tattoo artists call this beautiful city home. You may not be able to get a $40 chest piece at any of these shops, but you will get a stunning piece of art that will last a lifetime. Check out this list of the best tattoo shops for the discerning tattoo collector.

Outer Limits Tattoo & Museum Lobby (photo via Facebook)

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Right on the waterfront, just a short walk from the Queen Mary and the Aquarium of the Pacific is Outer Limits Tattoo & Museum. It's one of two shops owned by Kari Barba and boasts the title of "Oldest Tattoo Shop in America." While you wait for your appointment, you can scan the walls for over 80 years of rich tattoo history. Should you be lucky enough to have an appointment with Kari herself, she is a living textbook of tattoo, history having spent her whole life breaking through barriers in the industry. Kari is strongest when doing portraits and floral work, but her portfolio shows off her versatility with the wide array of imaginative pieces she has worked on over the years. If you are not inclined to be on the long wait list for an appointment with Barba or other heavy hitters at the shop, like Steve Godoy, you can be sure that she has chosen a staff of talented, promising artists that are as diligent as she is in perfecting craft and maintaining a high level of professionalism in the shop.

Outer Limits Tattoo & Museum is located at 22 S. Chestnut Pl. in Long Beach, (562) 437-9121.

Greg James tattooing at Tattoos Deluxe (Photo via Facebook)

Tattoos Deluxe is just a small hole-in-the-wall shop in Sherman Oaks, but look no further if you want a gorgeous Japanese-style tattoo. Greg James, the owner of the shop, has perfected the art form turning out some of the most beautiful work this side of the Pacific. He has a deep understanding and respect for the symbolism and cultural significance of traditional Japanese tattooing and has imparted that knowledge to each artist who works in the shop. Another notable artist at the shop is Bugs, known for his unique style of tattooing which reads very much like Cubist painting. He only tattoos at the shop part-time, but it’s cool to see the juxtaposition of the timeless and the modern offered in the same space.

Tattoos Deluxe is located at 4531 Van Nuys Blvd. in Sherman Oaks, (818) 783-1323

Tattoos by Sergio Sanchez (left) and Carlos Torres (right). (via Facebook)

If tattooing were an Olympic sport, The Timeline Gallery lineup of artists would be the Dream Team. Located in San Pedro, the list of artists you can make appointments with are Carlos Torres, Alan Padilla, Daren Hall, Luis Arias and Sergio Sanchez. This mighty band of artists are the best of the best if you are looking for a black and grey tattoo. Check out their Instagram account for the latest on who is currently tattooing at the shop as this varies depending on travel schedules. Act fast to catch an appointment with visiting artist, Cleo Wattenström.

Timeline Gallery is located at 1117 S. Pacific Ave. in San Pedro, (310) 833-6900.

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Tattoos by Kevin Lewis (left) and Nate Fierro (right) (via High Voltage Tattoo)

You probably already know this spot as the home of Kat von D. The celebrated artist still works out of this studio, inking the black-and-grey tattoos and portraits from which she made her name. Her appointment book is pretty full as she catches up on her current list of requests, but she knows the industry and her team of artists is on point. Some artists to note are Kevin Lewis and Nate Fierro. If you want to nerd out and get the Star Wars tattoo of your dreams, they were both featured at the Star Wars Celebration Tattoo Pavilion in Anaheim a couple of years ago. It's worth it to check in with the shop every now and then to see if there are any visiting artists.

High Voltage Tattoo is located at 1259 North La Brea Ave. in West Hollywood, (323) 969-9820.

Storefront of the Shamrock Social Club (Photo via Yelp)

Shamrock Social Club is an institution. No list of Southern California tattoo shops would be complete without it. Legendary tattoo artists like Mark Mahoney, Rick Walters, and Freddy Negrete are all under one roof. Located on the Sunset Strip, it's the place to go if you’re into that straightforward American Traditional style of tattooing. It’s also a good place for a celebrity sighting. Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Danny Trejo and many more have all rolled through the shop.

Shamrock Social Club is located at 9026 W. Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, (310) 271-9664.

The Warren Tattoo Shop (Photo via Facebook)

Get into it. The Warren is the new kid in town, and it is one to watch. Zoey Taylor opened the shop earlier this year in West Hollywood, and one look at her portfolio and you'll see why Los Angeles is lucky to have this quickly rising star. She loves to play with color and geometric patterns and her pinup girls are truly exceptional. Fellow artist Danny Dunbar, has an equally solid portfolio and his own following as well. What distinguishes The Warren from other shops is the experience. The space itself is has homey feel and the appointment rooms are private for when you want to be a badass and modest at the same time.

The Warren Tattoo Shop is located at 8776 Sunset Blvd. in West Hollywood, (310) 659-3502.

Lauren Candia is a Los Angeles-based writer whose work can be found in the East Jasmine Review, the Winter Horror Days anthology, and the Los Angeles Times. She is also the co-founder and curator of Shades & Shadows, LA’s creepiest reading series and literary nonprofit. Find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

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