Tattoo parlors and barbershops are in Adam Dorsett's blood. After inheriting his great uncle and aunt's 1930s tattoo equipment and barber tools, he entered a tattooing apprenticeship. With 3.5 years of instruction and experience, Dorsett opened Electric Haven Tattoo & Barber Shop and invented High Life Pomade—a classic workingman's hair grease that keeps strands in place by never saying “I love you.”
All of Dorsett's tattoo artists completed apprenticeships up to four years long and draw on that experience as they craft masterpieces such as portraits and old-school tats. His barbers trim dos and facial hair the old-fashioned way—with straight razors and hot towels. While they wait, barber customers of age may sip on complimentary tap beer. To ensure safety, Dorsett makes sure his staff is certified in CPR, first aid, and blood-borne pathogens. They also participate in monthly sterilizer spore testing and proper biowaste removal.
Diamond Body Art’s tattoo artists adorn bodies with tattoos done in a variety of styles. Alfonso specializes in realistic portraits done in black and gray. He can make anything look real, including a horror tattoo of Frankenstein’s monster or of a demon leaving the bathroom without washing his hands. Whether he’s creating a realistic bird or a cartoon character such as Mini Mouse, Dominic infuses the skin with bold colors. And Michael focuses on drawing clean lines when crafting Polynesian or Japanese-style tattoos.
Having dissolved thousands of doses of tattoo ink, Dr. Phil Knall has worked his way up to educating fellow clinicians on the technique. He's presented at more than 800 industry seminars in six countries.
Dr. Knall employs the Zimmer Cyro 6 laser, which vanishes tattoos over the course of a few treatments. Comfort is key; unlike many traditional cooling methods, such as ice-cream wrestling, the Zimmer's cooling system continuously chills the skin before, during, and after the procedure. See the clinic's gallery for evidence of the doctor's disappearing acts.
The telltale buzzing of tattoo guns pervades the air at Alley Kat Tattoo’s studio, where skilled artists have emblazoned skin with Celtic symbols, graffiti, military insignias, and mythological art for nearly two decades. The artists eschew pretension in favor of a casual, hygienic environment that makes even first-timers feel like habitual inkers as they excitedly convey their ideas during consultations. When they aren’t putting their spin on classic designs such as dragons and portraits of Grover Cleveland, the artists accent eye areas and lips with subtle cosmetic tattoos that act as permanent makeup.
The team at Black Rose Tattooers is on a roll. In 2012, they received their third consecutive Best Tattoo Parlor award from Tuscon Weekly. Over the years, the magazine has had a lot to say about the trio of shops, calling the artists “masters of their craft” and admiring how “skill is apparent in every design, whether the tattoo is a realistic portrait…or a custom sleeve”. Though the tattooers love to accept custom projects, the street-style shops also welcome passersby for impromptu ink sessions. In case clients are too excited about their fresh ink to pay attention to the staff's post-tattooing guidelines, the company's website has a page with tips for tattoo aftercare.
When not hunched over their buzzing tattoo tools, Black Rose’s team also performs face and body piercings, even surgically implanting tongs to improve grilling abilities. They take this work rather seriously as well—each year, the crew attends the Association of Professional Piercers Conference in Las Vegas. Two of the staffers even have their own jewelry line, Honeycomb Organics, a collection of one-of-a-kind wood, stone, silver, and copper baubles that ranges from traditional rings and necklaces to large-gauge body jewelry.