With all this warm weather we’ve been having lately, I’ve gotten a head start on my favorite spring pastime: tattoo-spotting. As clothing gets lighter, all kinds of fascinating body art starts to emerge. From the guy on the T this morning who showed off his half-sleeves in a t-shirt, to the girl who sat in front of me in class with the massive tiger poking out the bottom of her crop-top, tattoos seem to be appearing everywhere I go. Boston is one of the best cities I’ve encountered for tattoos, in part because it is home to some truly excellent tattoo shops:
My favorite shop in Boston! The guys (and girl) at Pino Brothers are top quality artists. Between Ben Pease and Kurt Brown, this shop is full of tattooing geniuses. Their portfolios speak for themselves, but I can assert from personal experience that Jaime Clinton is not only skilled in his craft but a perfect gentleman. One of mine is among the tattoos shown in his portfolio! Expect this shop to be merciless on your wallet, however. The standard hourly rate here is $150/hour.
Stingray once enjoyed a flawless reputation as the best shop in Boston, but now it seems to have been overtaken by smaller establishments like Pino Brothers and Regeneration. This could be due in part to a shift in management which refocused the place from quality art to business sense, and now it feels mildly industrial, with tattoos produced in high volume. They offer a range of services that other shops lack, such as piercing (for which they are still highly lauded), permanent makeup, and even laser tattoo removal. The artists currently working there vary greatly in talent, experience and price. They do offer a 10% student discount. Generally, I would advise prospective clients to check out Scott Quinney and Chico Torres, my favorites in Stingray. Chico touched up a large and complicated tattoo on my leg for me two years ago, and it still looks decent. Stingray is a good shop, but Regeneration is just down the street…
This is the shop of the Brians. Brian Hemming and Brian MacNeil are a secret tattooing rockstars. Tucked away in Regeneration Tattoo, a tiny shop in Allston, they do strong, precise work for $120/hour. Hemming’s black and grey portraits are especially noteworthy, though for me he tattooed a quote in tiny, perfectly-formed Times New Roman on my left inner arm that has held up beautifully after two years. If you’re after traditional work, Dan Blythewood can help you out, but for anything else I would talk to MacNeil.
I got my very first tattoo, a tiny green four-leaf clover, at Chameleon in the Harvard Square Garage, and I felt overcharged, treated to poor service, and given sloppy work. Slowly, however, my opinion of this shop has lightened. Ruben “Horeiki”’s portfolio of Japanese-inspired work is impressive, and Ellen’s subtle texture work and portraiture are inspiring. This shop produces solid work.
What shops do you love, or hate? Do you disagree with me? I would love to hear from you!
–Rachel, Future Boston intern