Whether you’re a seasoned tattoo veteran or a fearful first-timer wincing at the idea of getting that little love heart on your wrist, it’s worth investing a little time into who and where you should get inked before making the decision to permanently commit artwork to your body. Sydney is overflowing with options when it comes to permanent ink, so to make your final choice a little easier we’ve compiled a list of the very best in the business, based on the following criteria: quality work, inspired design, stringent hygiene practice, approachable staff and relaxed atmosphere.
Find the best tattoo studios in Sydney
Located in the heritage-listed Hibernian House, this spacious studio features vaulted ceilings, huge windows, plenty of natural light and only the finest of tunes spinning on the stereo. Hibernia Tattoo is by appointment only, which makes for a more personalised experience: the client deals with the artist directly, from start to finish. Their five extremely talented artists cover all styles imaginable and the friendly one-on-one atmosphere makes it a great place to consider for large-scale pieces that take several sessions, over weeks or even months.
Boasting seven in-house tattooists and a constant flow of prized guest artists, the Darling Parlour caters for a wide-range of styles including traditional American and Japanese, fine line and dot work. Set over two storeys with polished wooden floors, the interior features classic flash and art prints on the walls which are also sold in-store and online. The family-owned business is known for its friendly, approachable staff, making it an ideal spot to discuss your first tattoo (or your 20th). Business partners Fade Laser also offer a laser tattoo removal service on site.
LDF is a tattoo business with a reputation for being serious about quality art. This is no-doubt connected to the fact that owner Les Rice is himself a two-time winner of the Doug Moran Prize and three-time finalist for the Archibald Prize. With 12 ink-masters employed across two popular locations (Newtown and Marrickville), they offer a classic street-side tattoo parlour experience, the soothing buzz of the needle running seven days a week. Unlike private studios, walk-ins are welcome and LDF is also a registered LGBTI Safe Place.
Tucked away on the third floor of a converted warehouse in Surry Hills, this art-filled, open plan studio is a haven for those chasing the very best in traditional Japanese tattoos. Three of the team are dedicated to the artform and all practice distinctly different styles. Their diverse staff also handles neo and American traditional tattooing, as well as dotwork, geometric, girly and comic book pieces, plus black and grey realism. Potential clients are encouraged to pop in for a hot or cold drink and peruse the portfolios or book in for an in-depth consultation with their artist of choice.
Most famous for their large-scale, detailed traditional Japanese pieces, Lighthouse Tattoo make a point of recruiting specialists rather than all-rounders to their team. As a result, they currently utilise a large collective of ten artists to cover the full range of modern and traditional tattooing styles. Their purpose-built art studio has been crafted from a renovated warehouse, incorporating stylish industrial elements, filled with vibrant art and flash. You can also purchase limited edition art prints created by their team, directly from the studio.
Referred to as the “Temple of Art”, the rooms of Little Tokyo are decorated with an vintage Aussie tattoo flashes from the ’60s and ’70s, original art, antique tattoo machines, large gold Buddhas and vivid Tibetan masks. It’s a semi-private studio that’ll take you anywhere from a quick coin-sized piece to a full bodysuit. Their growing popularity has seen the likes of Justin Bieber and Ruby Rose in the chair over the past few years.
This colourful, street-front space is an easy ten-minute walk from Town Hall Station and it’s open seven days week. The current roster of world-renowned artists tackles everything from traditional American tattooing to racy, modern comic-style pieces. Stoneheart also have three piercers on staff, offering top-to-bottom piercing options from $35, plus detailed after-care advice. Laser tattoo removal is available with an easy-to-follow price guide on their website, starting at $70.
Coming up on five years in business, Hunter & Fox have built their incredible word-of-mouth reputation from housing distinct local artists with a flair for traditional styles in a vibrant colour palette. The shop has a retro barber shop fitout, featuring plenty of eye candy in the way of art-pieces and taxidermy. Walks-ins are always encouraged; you can peruse detailed galleries online, and all of their artists have a larger international following on Instagram.
Conveniently located near the popular shoptropolis of Broadway Shopping Centre, this is a classic streetside studio that offers quality custom work in a laidback, clean setting – making it a hub for first-timers and inked veterans alike. They’re buzzing away eight hours a day, seven days a week, with a mixture of male and female tattooists to choose from. You can also book in for laser tattoo removal, lightening services and body piercing using top quality jewellery from Industrial Strength.
Sure, it’s probably the best known custom tattoo parlour in Australia thanks to the hit reality TV series filmed on location there since 2015 and aired around the globe, but the Bondi Ink tattoo crew boast serious skills with the needle to match their engaging on-screen personalities. With the likes of Ronan Keating, Zayn Malik and Guy Sebastian lining up to get a taste of their ink, you know you’re in good hands. When visiting this stunning beachside location, it’s important to remember you can hit the water before your tattoo – but never directly afterwards.
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Not only is the Inner West home to many of the eccentric, creative and proudly rainbow tribes of Sydney, it's also where you'll find some of the best small bar action. Tiny little haunts slinging great drinks and keeping the vibes lively and local. If you don't have one already, your home-away-from-home is probably on this list.