Phoenix is filled with highly skilled tattoo artists of all styles and backgrounds. From old-school Sailor Jerry designs to the newest in fine-art tattooing, you can find just about anything you want — if you know where to look.
This weekend’s Body Art Expo, for instance, brings more than 200 tattoo artists to the Arizona State Fairgrounds from Friday, February 10, through Sunday, February 12.
But plenty of artists hold down the Valley’s ink scene year-round.
While we won’t tell you exactly whom you should go to for each tattoo, here are 10 awesome Phoenix tattooers that you’ll definitely want to check out.
Some tattooers create awesome art but suck as people. Some are great people who put out lackluster tattoos. The owner of Phoenix's High Noon Tattoo, 4215 North 16th Street, is an amazing artist who has donated plenty of time and effort to help get the CP Force Foundation (helping kids with lifelong illnesses and disabilities create art) off the ground. He's one of the guys behind the Grand Canyon Tattoo Convention — and Sarratt is among the Valley’s top Star Wars tattooers. So if you need Boba Fett depicted as a bold and bright neotraditional tattoo, Sarratt should be your top choice.
If you’re looking for someone to do bold lines and bright colors, you might want to visit Mesa’s Urban Art Tattoo, 340 West University Drive, and ask for Tony. His neotraditional tattoos are world-class, but he’s also totally capable of busting out some top-notch old-school American traditional pieces if asked. Klett follows the “20-20 rule," meaning you should be able to identify the content of a tattoo from 20 feet away within 20 seconds, and he makes them look great at the same time.
Oh, so you wanted some super-skillful, realistic, black-and-gray tattoos? Josh Duffy’s got you covered. From skulls and demons to the most beautiful lady faces and roses, Duffy can make some seriously insane stuff with just a tattoo machine and some black ink. Before opening up Peoria's Black Castle Art Co., 9009 West Lake Pleasant Parkway, Duffy cut his teeth in SoCal’s competitive tattooing scene.
Aaron “Bubba” Irwin
If you're a casual tattoo fan, Bubba Irwin may be one of the only Phoenix-based tattooers you’d recognize. The owner of Scottsdale's Old Town Ink, 7154 East Second Street, Irwin had a brief stint on Ink Master, but he’d rather be in his shop knocking out everything from black-and-gray portraits to the occasional color realism tattoo. Besides all that, he’s one of the few guys in the Valley who does consistently solid biomechanical tattoos. If you want to make a body part look robotic, he’s one of the few recommended options in the area.
Ever heard some ignorant dude say “women can’t tattoo” or something along those lines? You can rest assured that he sucks, and also that he’s never seen Meg McNiel’s work. While plenty of other people are attempting to make tattooing more complicated than it really needs to be, McNiel keeps busy in her private studio just churning out one impeccable old-school tattoo after another. For Sailor Jerry, Owen Jensen, or other designs that have been around for the better part of a century, there’s no one better.
Read on for more of the Valley's most awesome tattoo artists.