Behind a storefront nestled amid Belltown's bleeding-edge galleries and Art Deco artifacts, a quiet revolution is brewing. The shop is Dzul Ink Lounge, and inside, tattoo artists and brothers Jacob and Alex Dzul are out to turn decades of preconceptions on their collective ear. Gone are the cheesy designs and abrasive alt-rock assaults that typify most tattoo parlors. Instead, visitors step into a lounge that has more in common with a contemporary art space, a quality that's also shared by the shop's vivid, customized tattoos. Whether they're getting their first tattoos or adding ink to an already impressive bodily canvas, clients can flip through an iPad filled with thousands of the shop's exclusive designs, or collaborate with one of the resident artists on designs that are as personal as they are precise.
Body ink comes in all shapes, sizes and designs at Apocalypse Tattoo in Seattle, where the seven on-staff artists promise to make up paying customers with whatever details they choose. The personable staff is more than willing to consult with customers on their latest ink before putting needle to skin, and have displays of their artistry around the well-lit shop to put customers at ease as to the level of service. Offering a decidedly manly vibe, complete with faux hardwood floors and wall-mounted antler racks, Apocalypse Tattoo is wonderfully serious about their work, and have inked up many in a city already used to sporting tats. With hours from noon to 8 p.m. daily, it’s easy to slide in to schedule an appointment for yourself.
Tattoo artists April Cornell and her husband Jeff brought their distinct style of body art to Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood in 2007, opening Hidden Hand Tattoo. The shop’s five regular artists – not to mention the occasional guest artist – work with clients from all over King County to create body art in a comfortable, inviting atmosphere that feels more like a modern furniture store than a tattoo shop. Particularly nice for first-time clients, the shop keepers are cool about sharing examples of the artists’ past work and are willing to answer frequently asked questions from how to care for your tattoo to the oft-uttered “Does it hurt?” The shop is open daily from noon to 8 p.m., and gladly accepts walk-ins when possible.
Collaboration means more than mere marketing for Artful Dodger Tattoo and Comics. Thanks to its partnerships with Evolve Piercing and Sideshow Salon, Artful Dodger brings a sense of inky art to the heart of Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The shop offers a diverse mix of comic books, collectibles and visual artwork for sale, all of which is representative of the shop’s interior, which features racks of comics attached to the walls and six tattoo chairs for their five artists to do their work. It may seem a far cry from tribal bands and pin-up girls that line most tattoo spots, but Artful Dodger focuses on the artistic, creative elements of body inking that will last a lifetime.
Rooster Down Tattoo Gallery's artists see possibilities wherever they look. Blank skin becomes a canvas for intricate tattoos—vibrant portraits that wrap around arms, backs, and antlers. So when it came time for Rooster's team of artists to purchase a business, they took a similar approach and looked for another blank canvas. After much searching, the artists found their perfect location—a vintage home more than 100 years old.
With two stories, the classic house makes visitors feel more like guests than customers. Upon entering, the staff invites patrons to lounge atop a waiting room's leather couches and watch a flat-screen TV, which hangs directly above a fireplace. The team then leads patrons into one of several private tattoo rooms. Here, Rooster's resident and visiting artists—artists like Graydon Payne and Melissa Senesac—get to work away from any distractions, such as a right-bicep dragon tattoo coming to life and playing the left-bicep trombone tattoo. The artists' steady hands can emblazon bodies with vibrant custom artwork or, alternatively, use EliminInk tattoo-removal technology to restore skin to a blank slate.
Calling itself a “friendly neighborhood tattoo boutique,” Two Birds Tattoo, opened by Ruby Santiago and Suzy Todd in 2010, sits on a busy street in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. The shop’s four women staff artists work in a sedately lit, no-nonsense space, promising custom-designed work for each customer. If anything, the hardwood-draped setting of Two Birds feels more like a spa than a typical tattoo parlor, and the luxurious seating and clean workspace further add to the elegant, professional vibe. They’re gracious about sharing tips on what to expect from a procedure to how to care for a tattoo as it heals, and are always willing to show off their past artistic successes.