For those in the industry, Instagram is one of the most powerful tools a tattooer can use. Short of the right choice of machine, ink, and other actual tattooing equipment, the photo-sharing app may very well be the next most important piece of the puzzle for tattooers to utilize. After all, who cares how awesome your tattoos are if no one can see them?
Welcome to tattooing in the age of social media, here are 10 tattoo artists you should be following on Instagram.
Aside from being one of the most respected biomechanical (and realism) tattooers in the world, Roman Abrego does a great job of keeping his Instagram account interesting. The mohawked tattooer from Yucaipa, California, doesn’t just post photos of his most recent work, but also the people he meets at conventions, his nights out with friends, and many other aspects of his daily life. Plus, over a half-million followers can’t be wrong.
You may know him as the judge with the great mustache on Ink Master, or maybe as the guy who was married to Kat Von D for a while, but Oliver Peck is way more than just that. Whether he’s in Dallas at Elm Street Tattoo or at True Tattoo in Hollywood, Peck is one of the most entertaining and beloved people in the tattoo world. You won’t find too many photos of his work on his Instagram (although a simple Google search will reveal everything you need to see), but he’s worth following just for the humor and amusement.
The New York and South Carolina tattooer better known as Knarly Gav’s work isn’t for everyone. It’s simple, different, and often humorous. But unlike many other minimalistic and humorous tattooers, Gav’s are done exceptionally well. Outside of the dozen-ish designs he’s known for, his blackwork is as good as anyone’s. Really, his “cat eating a watermelon” design is as iconic as any in modern tattooing these days.
Not only is the owner of Phoenix’s High Noon Tattoo among the best neotraditional artists you’ll find in the state, he’s also one of the best Instagrammers. His feed is filled with amazing Star Wars, fishing, and other tattoos, but he also does a great job of posting the other things going on in his life (like trips to Costa Rica with his wife, fishing adventures, and his adorably tiny cats). Oh, and he posts awesome tattoos nearly every day since he seems to always be working.
For those who want more than just tattoos and daily life shots from an Instagram feed, look no further than Luke Wessman. When not tattooing, the Miami Ink and NY Ink veteran provides everything from style to dating tips on his Lost Art of the Gentleman account, although plenty of that spills over into his personal account as well. Wessman is a classy dude with some gangster tendencies, and it makes for Instagram gold.
When it comes to combining humor and unique tattoos, it's hard to beat Hathorn's Instagram. Most of the time, he's showing off his awesome illustrative work (whether it's on skin, paper, or clothing), but the San Diego-based tattooer mixes in enough jokes, sarcasm, and memes to prevent the account from seeming too serious. He's also one of the only guys you'll find today with an awesome style of tattooing that's rarely ever imitated.
Joshua Gargalione @unclejosh13
One of the most beloved tattooers in Phoenix, "Uncle Josh" is both an excellent artist and a solid person. From American traditional to black and gray portraits, Gargalione is proficient in nearly every style of tattooing, and he's the type of guy who you'll likely instantly bond with upon meeting. Whether it's his tattoos, drawings, or family life, it's hard not to like Gargalione and the things he puts up on his Instagram.
If you were to ask around about the biggest living legends in the tattoo industry, Horiyoshi III would be one of the first names you’d hear. Artists have traveled to Japan to get tattooed by him (or just to meet him) for decades, and he’s been the world’s authority on Japanese tattoos for longer than many tattooers have been alive. Now at the tail end of his career, he’s been known to start a public Instagram feud or two, but that shouldn’t detract from how important he is to tattoo history.
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Even if it’s not entirely true, there’s still a notion in some of the tattoo world that women can’t tattoo as well as guys. Evie Yapelli is one of the exceptions to that rule. The young tattooer’s work can still be cute and feminine (particularly her kewpies and Disney tattoos), but it’s primarily done with bold black lines — meaning it’ll hold up just as well as any dude’s tattoo (unlike the watercolor butterfly that’s already fading on your arm). She’s got a private studio in SoCal, but she should be making a trip to Phoenix sometime this year.
Although he can be a bit rough around the edges for some people's liking, Aaron Coleman is undoubtedly one of the most respected tattooers in Arizona. His neotraditional work is all over his Instagram, and it's some of the best you'll see in the Valley. Occasionally, the owner of Immaculate Tattoo even posts bits and pieces of his personal life, but don't count on getting more than a quick selfie once in a while.