San Francisco tattoo parlors have turned up in almost every neighborhood. The tattoo's surge in popularity at the end of the '90s was a true out-of-left field sensation. A permanent body decoration once deemed appropriate only for those in prison or biker gangs suddenly became accepted by the mainstream, and exploded in seemingly endless directions-you could spot them in music videos, fashion magazines, and even suburban malls.
Nowadays, you can find tattoos imprinted on the skins of sorority girls, stock traders, bookworms, bubblegum pop singers, and even cool moms. San Francisco is a city that knows its tattoos-it's one of the United States cities where the trend really began taking shape. Looking for some fun? Here's our guide to some of the best San Francisco tattoo parlors:
Art Work Rebels
1755 Market Street (between Valencia and Octavia Streets) (415) 552-44297 Website: Art Work Rebels
Custom artwork tattoos by the great Jason Kundell - one of the city's premier tattoo artists-sends locals and non-locals flocking to this body adornment hot spot. You can of course bring in your own creation to have imprinted on your body, but you should definitely check out the display books as well for additional ideas. Also be sure to peruse the incredible graffiti works Kundell has done-he has pictures of the walls and old trolley cars he's scribbled on displayed prominently inside Art Work Rebels.
San Francisco Tattoo Parlors: Black and Blue Tattoo
381 Guerrero Street (at 16th Street) (415) 626-0770 Website: Black and Blue Tattoo
Women owned-and-operated tattoo parlor has been winning prestigious awards ever since opening its doors. It has received several San Francisco Bay Guardian's Best Tattoo in SF Awards. Prices per hour vary according to artist, and a deposit is required at the time of the consultation (this deposit goes towards the total price of your tattoo). The work done here is classic, clean, sharp, and eye-catching, and all of the artists enjoy reputations for being incredibly friendly and helpful and attentive when explaining aftercare.
3234 16th Street (at Guerrero Street) (415) 621-0408 Website: Body Manipulations
While Body Manipulations is best known for its piercing studio (the oldest in the nation, it's been up and running since 1989), they also have a great reputation when it comes to tattoos. There are tattoo designs to look at in the shop, or if you have an original drawing of your own that you want tattooed on your body, bring that in for the artist to work off of. Tattoo walk-ins are welcome at Body Manipulations, and the hourly rate for work is $140.
San Francisco Tattoo Parlors: Idle Hand Tattoo Studio
575 Haight Street (at Steiner Street) (415) 552-4353 Website: Idle Hand
This custom tattoo shop on Haight is known for its breezy, laid-back environment, as well as its staff which is always more than happy to answer questions about tattoos from the public. The artists cater to all styles of tattoo, from tribal to Tweety Bird, with prices per hour varying according to artist. Appointments are highly recommended, although walk ins are always welcome.
Mom's Body Shop
1408 Haight Street (at Masonic Avenue) (415) 864-6667 Website: Mom's Body Shop
Mom's has long been known as the place in the Upper Haight to go to for "a professional, sterile, and comfortable environment for body adornment." The shop has six terrific artists to choose from for tattoo work, all of whom welcome walk-ins, although consultation appointments are recommended. Business is always brisk. There are tons of designs to choose from, and if you decide you're not ready to commit to a tattoo, piercing services are also offered.
Soul Patch Tattoo & Piercing
1599 Haight Street (at Clayton Street) Suite B (415) 552-3444 Website: Soul Patch Tattoo
Bustling tattoo and piercing joint has some of The City's most gifted tattoo artists on hand. There are picture flipbooks and photos on the walls of the many tattoos that have been done in the studio, and that are available for you to have imprinted on your skin. Original designs are welcome too. The artists are meticulous in the instructions they give customers on tattoo after care, and are always more than happy to answer questions about your tattoo once you've had it completed. Henna tattoos services are available as well.