Since the mid-’70s, Tattoo Factory’s crew of tattoo and piercing artists have been a fixture in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood. Examples of artists’ work and suggested tattoos line the roomy studio’s exposed brick walls as neon signs and glossy wood floors add color and retro flair. Clients lounge in black salon-style chairs as the skilled artists carefully create vibrant, long-lasting pieces of body art, such as the name of a loved one or a list of must-buy grocery items. Customers can also download the business’s recently launched iTunes app to get more information about tattoo and piercing artists, as well as glimpses at their portfolios.
At Twisted Tattoo & Body Piercing, no two tattoos are the same. The vibrant artwork on the waiting-room walls doesn't just give visitors a glimpse at the owners' aesthetic preferences: it also showcases the studio's identity as a fully custom shop. All of the staff artists and piercing technicians deftly handle custom work ranging from tattoo body art to piercings and other modifications, such as permanent cosmetics.
The artists work with their clients' existing ideas and help flesh out unfinished ones to create full-color tattoos of pop-culture icons, intimate quotations, and old-fashioned stylistic imagery. Their detail-oriented style allows them to perform cover-up services, masking unwanted tattoos or erasing old lines so customers can play connect-the-freckles all over again.
Although tattoo artist Gonzalo Cervantes only founded Dream City Tattoos in 2011, his experience with ink goes back much further. As a young artist with burgeoning needle skills, he mentored under Richard “Tapeworm” Herrera, who instilled in his apprentice the techniques necessary to transform human canvases into works of art. In the 10 years since, Gonzalo has amassed a wealth of experience and now specializes in versatility, covering skin in black-and-white and full-color portraits, tribal designs, decorative lettering, and biomechanical creations. Patrons need only show him—or his equally adept brother Gabriel—their desired ink with a picture or describe it with semaphores.
Fingerprints might be nature’s proof that we’re all unique, but custom tattoos are a more artistic and personal way to remind us of that. Mario Ink generates original designs for its clients, turning skin into a canvas on which to scrawl imaginative images, exquisitely detailed lettering, or more freckles. Mario also decorates clients with less-permanent pigments, offering professional body painting for everything from advertising events to Halloween costumes.
Tattoos start at $60 (prices vary by size and complexity). A number of smaller designs (one to three square inches) fall in the $80 range. And, of course, you can apply your $80 credit toward a more involved endeavor, like a full arm sleeve of your ex-lovers’ skeletons suffering in Hell. Or a big daisy. Piercings start at $55, and the rest of your Groupon $80 value can be used toward jewelry or jelly to fill the piercing.