California is known for its laid back attitudes and “cool” vibe so it’s no wonder that there’s a thriving tattoo community up and down the west coast. In fact, the area has it’s own style of tattooing that is wholly different from anywhere in the world. The west coast is home to a slew of shops that have their own shows and their own flavors but when you’re given such a huge variety of good shops it’s close to impossible to pick the “best”.
830 Lincoln Blvd, Venice, CA 90291
A unique female only parlor that has a very calm and positive vibe to it. Everything is relaxed and chill here and while the outside might look a little grungy this small shop produces some of the thinnest and cleanest lines around. It’s ideal for those looking to avoid the drama and big-headedness of “brand name” artists in favor of a local flavor. Open for just over 2 decades the old-school shop specializes in black and gray and humor designs.
The Honorable Society
8424 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069
If you ever wanted so see what a Victorian tattoo parlor (if such a thing existed) would look like then this is it. A quirky and unique studio that looks like a smoking room inside complete with vintage furniture and dapper looking staff. The shop offers a comfortable location, galleries, and some nifty merchandise. It’s one of the most unique shops in the world and with a well deserved reputation for putting out quality work.
Solid Gallery One
334 N Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90036
This is another gallery turned tattoo studio with tons of contemporary and tattoo style art on the walls which art enthusiasts will certainly enjoy. The gallery portion of the shop is by appointment only but tattoos can be done on a walk in basis if there are free artists. It’s worth making the appointment though to see some lesser known, up and coming, contemporary, and even wild artwork that you wont see anywhere else. It’s crew boasts a range of styles but their primary focus is Old School or New School work fusions with a dash of creativity. The interior has a very clean and minimalist vibe and unlike many gallery shops the walls have just enough art on the walls to be interesting without seeming like there’s too much packed in.
Port city Tattoo Shop
Long Beach and Costa Mesa Locations
Consistently voted the best of Orange County this shop hasn’t been around very long and while it has top notch artists the fact that within 2 years they already had a second location just goes to show how popular this brand is. The shop is dedicated to the roots of local tattooing when it was a Navy business so much of their art has a traditional feel but they specialize in custom work. Port City has an open inside with traditional flash and a nostalgic feel to the inside. In fact, this could be any number of other studios across the country if it wasn’t for the historical aspect.
700 Lombard Street, San Francisco, CA 94133
It wouldn’t be California without having the original Ed Hardy shop on this list. While Ed occasionally drops in the shop is now run by his son Doug. An historical tattoo landmark this shop is worth a visit just to say you’ve been here. While the ink is great quality it’s really a typical shop inside. You’re going here for the name and the experience not because there’s anything amazing about it.