Best tattoo shops in 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Located in the diverse Cedar Park section of West Philadelphia, Spirited stands out amid the Philly tattoo fray thanks to 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.
In the 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.
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.
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.