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Seven Swords Tattoo Company
Photograph: Jamie Siver

The 9 best tattoo shops in Philadelphia

The best tattoo shops in Philadelphia give the tat-hungry masses what they crave outside the usual South Street

By Drew Lazor

Looking to get inked up while in town and wondering where the best tattoo shops in Philadelphia are? You're in luck: we've rounded them all up for you.

For decades, the epicenter of the city's tattoo culture was a cluster of famous tattoo shops just off South Street—one of the top Philadelphia attractions in its own right that’s been long known as much for its counterculture appeal as its heavy foot traffic. But, in recent years, things have changed: talented artists have branched out to the farther reaches of local neighborhoods, setting up independent operations and building audiences in Fishtown, deep South Philly, West Philly and beyond. Which means that a trip to get tattoo-ed up will end up feeling like a tour of the city as well. 

Check out our top picks, which we selected based on art style, overall approach to the craft and flexibility. 

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best things to do in Philadelphia

Best tattoo shops in Philadelphia

No Ka Oi Tiki Tattoo
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Luis G.

1. No Ka Oi Tiki Tattoo

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Greater Philadelphia

A quick glance at this shop’s one-of-a-kind tropical facade, complete with a grass-skirted island girl saluting the sun, might suggest a place that pours Polynesian drinks. In reality, it’s a full-service tattoo and piercing establishment (and occasional art gallery) that’s been a part of the Philly scene since 2002. No Ka Oi, which translates to “the very best” in Hawaiian, features a rotation of 30 tattooers. In the South Street tradition, they are happy to accommodate walk-ins.

philadelphia eddies tattoo
Photograph: Courtesy Flickr/CC/raymondclarkeimages

2. Philadelphia Eddie’s Tattoo

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Greater Philadelphia

Perhaps the most instantly recognizable name in Philly tattooing, Eddie’s is a revered shop that has held down its Queen Village corner for decades. The shop’s catchy slogan—“old school before you were in school”—says it all: they do things a certain way here, as dictated by “Crazy” Eddie Funk, the shop’s pioneering and highly respected namesake. Though Funk passed away in 2016, his outsize reputation and influence on American tattooing as an artform lives on in this flagship shop.

Eastern Pass Tattoo
Photograph: Courtesy Eastern Pass Tattoo

3. Eastern Pass Tattoo

Shopping Tattoos and piercings East Passyunk Crossing

Sitting atop the much-Instagrammed rummage shop Jinxed on Passyunk Avenue—you actually enter the vintage variety store to gain access to the studio—Eastern Pass is a four-artist setup with a specialty in Japanese- and American-style body art. Just a couple blocks down from the “Singing Fountain,” it’s the premier tattoo shop operating along the ever-growing East Passyunk corridor.

Olde City Tattoo
Photograph: Courtesy Olde City Tattoo

4. Olde City Tattoo

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Old City

Established by Jason Goldberg in 1999, Olde City has earned its reputation as a standard-bearer for the Philadelphia tattoo scene, offering work "by appointment or impulse" from an instantly recognizable storefront in the heart of the historic district. Olde City has the look and vibe of a classic shop, and the highly experienced artists to back it up. Goldberg and Co. have a classical bent to their style, though they are open to all custom jobs.

Black Vulture Gallery
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Steve P.

5. Black Vulture Gallery

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Fishtown

This combo tattoo studio and gallery in Fishtown notches points in the atmosphere column via its high ceilings and stations dramatically decorated with artwork, vintage toys and graffiti-laden skateboards. Open since 2010, it’s home to a number of highly respected body artists who go out of their way to make people feel welcome. Regular First Friday show openings make the Girard Avenue shop a draw for collectors of body and conventional wall decor.

Spirited Tattooing Coalition
Photograph: J Morrell

6. Spirited Tattooing Coalition

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Angora

Located in the diverse Cedar Park section of West Philadelphia, Spirited stands out amid the Philly tattoo fray given its engagement with LGBTQ communities and all “marginalized voices, artists and identities”—a proactive response to the antiquated attitudes of some in the industry. The cozy, open-floor-plan shop, opened by owner-artist Jasmine T. Morrell in 2015, extends its inclusive philosophy to occasional event/gallery programming that’s centered around social justice and fundraising for congruous causes.

Dakini Tattoo Art Collective
Photograph: Courtesy Dakini Tattoo Art Collective

7. Dakini Tattoo Art Collective

Shopping Tattoos and piercings South Philadelphia

In true South Philly tradition, Dakini is a small-but-inviting shop with a diverse artist roster that’s got the chops to take on Japanese-, Americana- and pop culture-inspired jobs, as well as highly customized pieces. The Snyder Avenue space does accept some walk-ins on the basis of availability, but most of Dakini’s artists work by appointment.

true hand society
Photograph: Jen Woodruff

8. True Hand Society

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Kensington

Situated in an airy, exposed brick space in Fishtown’s 2424 Studios, True Hand is a tight operation established by tattooer Mike Ski and designer Jessie Jay. The appointment-only body-art operation, home to six artists, doubles as a graphic design studio that contributes logo, branding and concept work to local and national businesses—from pizzerias and guitar shops to cafes and clothiers.

Seven Swords Tattoo Company
Photograph: Jamie Siver

9. Seven Swords Tattoo Company

Shopping Tattoos and piercings Kensington

Offering both flash-based art and completely custom pieces, Kensington’s Seven Swords holds down the far end of Frankford Avenue in a pretty, clean-lined corner space that reflects the team’s approach to their work. Though it’s only been around since 2015, SSTC has carved out a reputable spot for itself in the Philly tattoo crowd thanks to its stylistic versatility.

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