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Dawn Cooke: 32 Great Tattoo Artists Everyone Should Know

Dawn Cooke: 32 Great Tattoo Artists Everyone Should Know

By Dawn Cooke
This is for the guys…

So I featured ladies-only last time and I didn’t want the guys to feel left out. So I sent messages to all the guys who I admire for their contribution to the tattoo community. Some of these fellows I know personally and some of them I do not but for some reason their work, ethics or both caught my eye…

Some were easier to reach than others and there’s a list of artists at the bottom that I didn’t get to in time or I just couldn’t reach. Those guys are important too so do some homework.

But the main thing I am trying to do here is bring to light some great artists that aren’t always right in your face. A lot of these fellows are shy or just a bit anti-social or just don’t give a rat’s ass about the race.

I also included some European artists whose voices can be heard over the Atlantic Ocean. Surprisingly, all of the guys I got in touch with responded to me in such a way that this is going to be a long blog!!!

But please take the time to look all the way through because you will not be disappointed! I sought them out because they deserve to be recognized for the outstanding work that they do. Some of them have been tattooing for along time and have been more influential than then know. Some only for a short time with years of promise a head of them. Either way they are bringing something really cool to the table. Here they are in no particular order:

Danny Reed
“I’ve been tattooing almost 10 years. I started here in Asheville NC and have been here almost my whole entire career. I really enjoy all types of tattooing. I love lettering, black and grey, portraits, Japanese, traditional, tribal and fine-line, but my favorite stuff is the weird shit, just strange, humorous and different. I draw a lot of inspiration from Ed Hardy, Greg Irons, Jim Philips, Dave Lum, Bob Roberts, old comics and animators. I like to use a lot of non-tattoo related imagery to pull from.”

Hot Stuff Tattoo
Asheville, NC
828 251 6040.

Jason Brooks
“I’ve been tattooing for 19 years,currently at Great Wave Tattoo, my shop in Austin,Texas. I enjoy doing energetic work in western and Asian styles.

Great Wave Tattoo

Lupo HoriOkami
Born in 1979, in Vicenza Italy. His interest in art and design manifested itself in 1993 with graffiti. In 1999 he began designing tattoos and shortly after opened Inkside Tattooing in the heart of downtown Vicenza. During his first visit to Japan, Lupo HoriOkami had the honor of meeting and subsequently solidifying a formal professional relationship with Horiyoshi III (Yoshihito Nakano) after which time, and according to tradition, he was granted permission to the Japanese name “HoriOkami.”

Mushin Private Tattoo Studio
Vicenza, Italy
Phone: +39 340 8000142 (no sms)

Clifton Carter
“I have been working at tattoo shops since 1999 and apprenticed in 2000. I started tattooing full time in January 2001. I like doing every type of tattoo especially anything that looks like an Ed Hardy thing. In my tattooing I am just trying to carry images and ideas forward that I have been fortunate enough to be exposed to. There has been so much beautiful visual art made in human history that I would love to help people wear in the skin. My influences are Ed Hardy, Tom Berg, George Burchette, George Bigmore, Ben Corday, Horichiyo, Hokusai, Ito Jakachu, Shohaku, Charles Dana Gibson, Chris Conn, Leo Zuleta, Mayan Vase painting, Marquesan art, Borneo art, religious art, the 14th century Flemish painters, EVERYONE that has ever or is currently working at Tattoo City, native american art, Gerhard Richter, Andrew Goldsworthy, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, and many more.”

The Living Ghost Tattoo Parlor
Tempe, Arizona

David Flores (ATC)
“I enjoy doing American Traditional tattoos, as well as your average, everyday walk-in tattoos. I work at Classic Tattoo Upland, in California (909-949-7971). I have been there for almost 9 years, tattooing for 4 1/2 of them.”

Classic Tattoo Upland

Aaron Hodges
“I prefer to tattoo narrative illustrations. Something that tells a story is a little more interesting to me and will keep the viewer looking a little bit longer. I currently work at Idle Hand tattoo in San Francisco. I have been tattooing for about ten years. Other forms of art that I create are large scale figurative oil painting.”
Idle Hand Tattoo
575 Haigt St.
San Francisco CA

El Bara
“I have been tattooing for 20 years. My favorite styles are traditional and Japanese.”

0034 91 591 9310

Jon Larson 
“Tattooing 7 years and currently tattooing at Depot Town Tattoo Ypsilanti, Michigan.”

Nick Fabini
“Tattooing almost 10 years all here in Fort Wayne Indiana. Four of those years have been at Cardinal tattoo, which I run as a collective. My favorite thing to do as a tattooer is to have fun with whatever it is that I am doing. I defiantly have my favorite styles to tattoo, which are no different than anyone else… American traditional influenced and Japanese influenced imagery. I really enjoy bringing dynamic elements to simple images. My favorite tattooer is Greg Irons, so that might explain my inspiration with that style. I have a very supportive wife who is extremely creative herself and I am also a proud parent of two amazing daughters.”

Cardinal Tattoo
1509 spy run ave.
Fort Wayne, Indiana

Chad Chesko
“I’ve been tattooing for 17 years. I prefer an illustrative style influenced by Americana and Asian cultures. (Bet you havent heard that before?) ) I also like religious and cult imagery as well as natural history and botanical images but not above doing street work.”

Sacred Rose Tattoo
Berkeley, CA
Shop: 510-524-1503

Tomek Szumiec
“Tattooing since 2007 traditional/neo-traditional American and Japanese.”

Read Street Tattoo Parlour
Baltimore, MD

Dana Helmuth
“I’ve been tattooing 13 years and I work at Independent Tattoo in Fenwick island, Delaware.”

Shop#: 302-436-5581

Mike Emmett
“Tattooing- 10 yrs. I like doing American traditional tattoos with some Japanese elements.”

Depot Town Tattoo
734- 522 1297

Front Street Tattoo

“Tattooing since 1998. Currently working at The Family Business Tattoo Parlour.”

El Monga
El Monga has a unique style that is often mimicked.

Murray Sell
Place of employment: Up and down the east coast & Flying Tiger Tattoo New Britain, CT
Years tattooing: 10
Specialty: Walk-ins
What I like to tattoo: Anything but portraits. I’m not smart enough for those.

“I started tattooing in Salt Lake City, UT then moved to Connecticut about 7 years ago. I work in a small working class/college town at a shop called Flying Tiger. I really enjoy doing custom walk in style and folk style Japanese tattoos. I travel a lot. I’ll tattoo anywhere, for as long as it takes. I’m really into guns.”

Flying Tiger Tattoo
1537 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT

Steve Turner
“My name is Steven Turner and I love tattooing! I’ve been doing it  around 10 years now and enjoy doing bold Americana, tribal, and some Japanese here and there. To be honest, I think I’m best at street shop, walk-in tattoos (names, kanji, ect… bring it on!) machine-building and painting have always been a big part of my life as well. I can be reached at my shop, Hell Bomb Tattoo, in lovely Wichita, Kansas. Which by the way, isn’t the middle of nowhere… it’s the center of everywhere. Thanks!”

Hell Bomb Tattoo
1115 E. Douglas
Wichita, KS 67211

Bill Falsetta
Tat maker, Machine builder extraordinaire.

Don Yarian

Eagle River Tattoo
11127 Old Eagle River Rd.
Eagle River, AK 99577
(907)622-4465 (4INK)

Justin Shaw
“My tattoos are rooted in American traditional style. I’ve been Tattooing 15 years.”

Faith Tattoo
Santa Rosa Ca
707 -566-9955

El Carlo
“I work at Aloha Tattoos in Barcelona since 2004, I apprenticed there with El Monga. My work has an American traditional basis in terms of execution but the topics I choose have nothing to do with the old school tradition, I can get inspiration from many different sources (from pushead to Albrecht dürer and tattooist (Monga, Rudi Fritsch, Erik von Bartholomaus, Rotor among many others) and I’m constantly working on my own imagery to be as original as I can. I love working with my customers and trying to find out the best solutions for their ideas but If it was up to me I’ll be tattooing skulls for the rest of my life!”

Cris Cleen
“I have been tattooing for ten years and I currently work at Saved tattoo in Brooklyn New York. My tattoo preferences are a mix of the natural world and a graphic sense of design. images of love, loss, devotion, desire in the folk art vocabulary of sustainable tattooing.”

Nick Colella
“I have been tattooing for 15 years all at The Chicago Tattoo Co. Cliff Raven’s original shop in Chicago. It’s primarily a walk in shop so I do everything that walks in the door but I really enjoy the traditional American iconic tattoos and then I love to do lettering.”

Tony Derigo

Matt Shamah
“Tattooing 20 years. Contact Via voice or written words please. I prefer not to be touched by strangers.”

Analog Tattoo
San Jose, CA

Frank William
A rambling man!!!! This guy travels about in the Midwest mostly so check him out if he’s in Ann Arbor, MI, Chicago, Pennsylvania or Ohio…

Krooked Ken
“I have been tattooing since 1994 and prefer traditional tattooing in its rawest form.”
e-mail at

“My name is Joseph DiProjetto but most know me as Jet. I have been learning and applying tattoos since 1993.I enjoy putting my style and take on American traditional and Japanese themes. I own Love Hate Tattoo in Rochester NY, since 2001. Myself and partner Shane also put on the Roc City Tattoo Expo every May 4-5-6 in downtown Rochester NY.”

Matt Arriola

Three Kings Tattoo
572 Manhattan ave
Brooklyn NY 11222

Josh Mason

Old Soul Tattoo
16 West Pike Street
Canonsburg, PA

Adam Forman
“Tattooing is an alchemy that I do not understand, in fact the longer I do it the less it seems I will ever understand it. Good luck my friends.”

Adam is currently on hiatus from tattooing but can be found by website at

Chad Soner

Here are a few other great artists who you should know:

Related TAM Blog Post:

(Dawn Cooke is a contributing blogger for Tattoo Artist Magazine can be found at Depot Town Tattoo, 33 East Cross St. Ypsilanti, MI 48197 and
Dawn Cooke is featured in Tattoo Artist Magazine #21:


  1. What about Valerie Vargas of Frith Street Tattoo in London?

  2. There is a guy that just moved out to Michigan that you should check out Dawn… His name is Mark Lazio. I think he is in Onsted,MI – He is AWESOME and I believe he has been in some of the tattoo magazines before (?) Anyway, just a f.y.i. and I LOVE your blogs, Thank You!!

  3. Really good list lots of solid work but I couldn’t help but notice that every artist posted did mostly American Traditional or Japanese Traditional… Not to discredit the list or the styles or any of the great tattooers on there but it just didn’t seem too diverse. Some artist I’d add that are at least somewhat under the radar are

    Shawn Hebrank – Awesome tattooer in MN does a lot of soft black and grey and color animals that have a very “classic Children’s book illustration feel to them”

    Caesar – Hungarian artist works at Caesar Tattoo in NYC – amazing black and grey and fantasy art reproductions

    Dusty Neil – Rad tattooer in Indiana who is becoming very well known but still doesn’t seem to be a household name does a lot of Neo-traditional with a new school feel.

    Daveeblows – Tattoos WEIRD things

    There’s a lot more but I thought a little diversity would do the list service

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