A little history to get this tattoo guide started: tattoos are NOT trendy. Body art has been a thing for thousands of years. Tattoos were found on the 5000-year-old “Iceman” mummy as well as on female Egyptian mummies more than 2000 years old. Used for ritual, to ascribe status or tribe, to show strength, or for pure artistic adornment, most cultures have incorporated tattooing. So no, it’s not hip or trendy. It’s one of the things that binds us universally. And for some, it’s also a way to use your body art to set you apart.
Melrose is fortunate to have some of the best artists on the planet operating tattoo parlors on the Avenue. Every shop is different, every artist is VERY different, and whether you have an idea in mind or need some direction, you’ll have the cream of the crop to work with.
Dave Hatton opened Generation 8 with a lot of personal and professional history behind it. His family has been service retail in SoCal for generations, and Dave started his art career in high school. With a deep respect for both the art and his clients, the work at Generation 8 is impeccable. The artists – both staff and visiting – are vetted to bring unique focus and flavor so clients know their piece will be wonderfully brought to life.
For sixteen years, Kristi Williams (AKA “Dollface”) and her team at Through Your Skin have been nurturing a vibrant environment for creating tattoo art. The care and consideration that goes in to pre- and post-session consultation eases a lot of concern, and work gets done with a gentle touch. While the artists are universally talented, lettering is a particular highlight at Through Your Skin. They can even create a font just for you!
THROUGH YOUR SKIN
7353 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046
Monday – Friday noon – 9p, Saturday and Sunday noon – 10p
Bamboo Tattoo gets its name from a 3000-year-old Asian technique of attaching a sharp to a stick of bamboo and tapping ink into the skin. While reportedly more painful than using modern gear, it created incredibly fine and perfect lines which are the basis of all great tattoos. At Bamboo, that attention to foundation is clear, with line work that is stunning in its precision. The shading techniques you’ll find here are equally cool, creating dimension and depth that brings a piece to life.
7664 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046
Daily noon – 10p
Body Electric is a Melrose Avenue legend that opened shop in 1992 and set the standard for bold, progressive body art and modification in Hollywood. Owner Brian Keith Thompson started as a client, then bought the studio. His goal was to elevate the experience from walk-in to walk-out while keeping a friendly, attitude-free environment. With a staff of incessantly creative artists, he has taken Body Electric to international renown.
BODY ELECTRIC TATTOO
7274 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046
Sunday – Thursday noon – 9:30p, Friday and Saturday noon – 11p
A little luck and a lot of maneuvering got the Abrego brothers a Melrose address for their second tattoo parlor. They got lost on a location search, saw a spot they wanted, and had to convince the owner to lease it to them. Since then, world famous artists have called AE2 home with specialties running the gamut: traditional, tribal, Japanese, back & grey, realism, biomechanical. There’s always a fantastic guest artist in the shop, bringing something even more unique to the menu.
ARTISTIC ELEMENT TATTOO II
7460 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046
Sunday – Saturday 12:30p – midnight
Julio opened Golden Daggers in 2012, and has turned it into a great example of young artists embracing and propelling tattoo culture. With a heavy and wonderful emphasis on traditional pieces, Golden Daggers adds something special to the style, keeping it recognizable yet incredibly fresh. Other artists here are exceptional at fantasy and horror, and still others at whimsical and delightful line art.
GOLDEN DAGGERS TATTOOING
7704 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046
Monday – Saturday 1p – 9p, Sunday noon – 7p
Dean Berton at Melrose Tattoo plays with unique styles in ways only deep experience and expertise would allow. Currently, he’s on a “splattering” technique that turns any object into an ink masterpiece. Mostly black & grey, he uses splattering to bring detail and dimension to realism in a unique way. He’s equally adept at precision line work, delicate singular images, and character pieces. The results are sharp and bold. Dean provides extensive consultation and suggestion, so no regret!
7661 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90047
Daily 1p – 8p
Knowing quality ink is as important as the skill set, Radiant Colors (manufacturer of killer ink that is used by amazing artists all over the world) opened a tattoo parlor connected to the store. Hosting ingenious artists from all over the world, as well as keeping some of L.A.’s best on staff, Radiant Ink is not just delivering glorious pieces of pigment; the rich monotones show extraordinary vibrancy and depth. You’ll also want that consistent, smooth black for the perfectionistic lettering pieces here.
7365 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles 90046
Sunday noon – 6, Monday – Saturday 10a – 8p