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Get Inked: Chicago's 11 Best Tattoo Studios

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Photo: Butterfat Studios/Facebook

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Itching for some ink? Getting a tattoo is no easy feat. Deciding on a design, studio, and an artist can be exhausting work—and finally getting the tat can carry a hefty price tag. Lucky for you, we located Chicago's most talented and notable studios. If you're serious about body art, look no further than these tattoo masters. —Shelby Livingston


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Tattoo Factory

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Get inked with a custom or flash design by one of Tattoo Factory’s 20 artists, and then head over to the Drink & Ink Tavern next door for a cold brew (slated to open Nov. 1).

Deluxe Tattoo

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Made famous by artist Hannah Aitchison, star of the TLC series LA Ink, Deluxe Tattoo is often touted as the crème de la crème of Chicago tattoo shops. But Aitchison’s not the only distinguished artist at this studio: Owner Ben Wahhh is known for a style of tattooing he calls “bio-wreck,” which gives the appearance of flesh ripping away to reveal colorful skulls and eyeballs underneath. If you’re in need of a spot-on portrait, Miles Maniaci is your go-to.

Pioneer Tattoo

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Pioneer may be a young studio (it opened in 2010), but it’s staffed with some of Chicago’s most well known and sought after tattoo artists. David Allen creates stunning black and gray designs showcasing his expertise in form and shading; Josh Howard is skilled in traditional tattoos; and Tim Biedron is celebrated for his illustrative style.

Family Tattoo

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Family Tattoo is a mix between an old school street shop and a modern custom studio. Here you’ll find five artists ready to give you original designs or flash ink, whatever you’re into. For detailed, nature-inspired tattoos, go to Caroline Moody. For bold color and traditional styles, book an appointment with Kevin Leary or Lee Leahy.

The Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co.

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Originally opened in the mid-1960’s, Chicago Tattoo is the grandfather of Illinois tattoo shops. Looking for Japanese-inspired ink? Go to Dale Grande. Elaborate and illustrative? Call Mike Tofano. Need a cool piercing? Look no further than Rudy Carrillo or Allison Minor.

Butterfat Studios

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Butterfat Studios’s two artists Esther Garcia and Stephanie Brown create gorgeous custom works of art that look more like paintings than tattoos. If you’re interested in feminine shapes, flower work, complex color palettes, and intricate patterns, Butterfat is for you. The studio is private and appointment-only, and the artists rarely accept client-proposed work. Check the website for available projects. You might luck out.

Speakeasy Custom Tattoo

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Speakeasy Custom Tattoo studio looks exactly how it sounds: chandeliers hang from the ceiling, plush leather chairs stand on dark wood floors, and framed art line the walls. Most of the artists are veterans at their craft, and owner Patrick Cornolo has been tattooing since 1994. You won’t find “flash” here—the over-used Sailor Jerry-type art usually found on walls—as each artist prefers to create custom designs.

Tatu Tattoo

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If you can dream it, Tatu Tattoo can ink it. In business since 1992, this Wicker Park studio offers tribal designs, portraits, realism, Asian styles, cartoons, new school, old school, and so much more. Tatu Tattoo also provides flash art and piercing services, and conducts spore-testing weekly.

Insight Studios

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Wicker Park’s celebrated studio may also be the cleanest. Insight Studios offers weekly spore-testing to ensure all equipment is sterile. The artists also hold a monthly fundraiser, with all proceeds earned during two days donated to a different cause. And if you’re looking to remove that tattoo you got during Spring Break in Cancun a couple of years ago, Insight does in-house removal.

Shred's Inferno

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Shred’s Inferno is the longest running tattoo shop on the South Side, where it has catered to Chicago’s ink enthusiasts for 16 years. Shred specializes in portraits, bold colors, and black and gray scales—and he regularly tattoos Chicago Bulls star D-Rose. Enough said.

Native Rituals

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With big personalities and a whole lot of talent, Native Rituals’ staff will make a trip to the suburbs worth your while. These artists pride themselves on being “miscreants, outcasts, and freaks,” and, of course, pros at doling out incredible tattoos.

Tattoo Factory

Get inked with a custom or flash design by one of Tattoo Factory’s 20 artists, and then head over to the Drink & Ink Tavern next door for a cold brew (slated to open Nov. 1).

Deluxe Tattoo

Made famous by artist Hannah Aitchison, star of the TLC series LA Ink, Deluxe Tattoo is often touted as the crème de la crème of Chicago tattoo shops. But Aitchison’s not the only distinguished artist at this studio: Owner Ben Wahhh is known for a style of tattooing he calls “bio-wreck,” which gives the appearance of flesh ripping away to reveal colorful skulls and eyeballs underneath. If you’re in need of a spot-on portrait, Miles Maniaci is your go-to.

Pioneer Tattoo

Pioneer may be a young studio (it opened in 2010), but it’s staffed with some of Chicago’s most well known and sought after tattoo artists. David Allen creates stunning black and gray designs showcasing his expertise in form and shading; Josh Howard is skilled in traditional tattoos; and Tim Biedron is celebrated for his illustrative style.

Family Tattoo

Family Tattoo is a mix between an old school street shop and a modern custom studio. Here you’ll find five artists ready to give you original designs or flash ink, whatever you’re into. For detailed, nature-inspired tattoos, go to Caroline Moody. For bold color and traditional styles, book an appointment with Kevin Leary or Lee Leahy.

The Chicago Tattoo and Piercing Co.

Originally opened in the mid-1960’s, Chicago Tattoo is the grandfather of Illinois tattoo shops. Looking for Japanese-inspired ink? Go to Dale Grande. Elaborate and illustrative? Call Mike Tofano. Need a cool piercing? Look no further than Rudy Carrillo or Allison Minor.

Butterfat Studios

Butterfat Studios’s two artists Esther Garcia and Stephanie Brown create gorgeous custom works of art that look more like paintings than tattoos. If you’re interested in feminine shapes, flower work, complex color palettes, and intricate patterns, Butterfat is for you. The studio is private and appointment-only, and the artists rarely accept client-proposed work. Check the website for available projects. You might luck out.

Speakeasy Custom Tattoo

Speakeasy Custom Tattoo studio looks exactly how it sounds: chandeliers hang from the ceiling, plush leather chairs stand on dark wood floors, and framed art line the walls. Most of the artists are veterans at their craft, and owner Patrick Cornolo has been tattooing since 1994. You won’t find “flash” here—the over-used Sailor Jerry-type art usually found on walls—as each artist prefers to create custom designs.

Tatu Tattoo

If you can dream it, Tatu Tattoo can ink it. In business since 1992, this Wicker Park studio offers tribal designs, portraits, realism, Asian styles, cartoons, new school, old school, and so much more. Tatu Tattoo also provides flash art and piercing services, and conducts spore-testing weekly.

Insight Studios

Wicker Park’s celebrated studio may also be the cleanest. Insight Studios offers weekly spore-testing to ensure all equipment is sterile. The artists also hold a monthly fundraiser, with all proceeds earned during two days donated to a different cause. And if you’re looking to remove that tattoo you got during Spring Break in Cancun a couple of years ago, Insight does in-house removal.

Shred's Inferno

Shred’s Inferno is the longest running tattoo shop on the South Side, where it has catered to Chicago’s ink enthusiasts for 16 years. Shred specializes in portraits, bold colors, and black and gray scales—and he regularly tattoos Chicago Bulls star D-Rose. Enough said.

Native Rituals

With big personalities and a whole lot of talent, Native Rituals’ staff will make a trip to the suburbs worth your while. These artists pride themselves on being “miscreants, outcasts, and freaks,” and, of course, pros at doling out incredible tattoos.