For some, it can be scary to finally decide to get a tattoo. Where do you even start? When it comes to researching a shop, its name is probably the first thing you'll come by--whether you hear it from a friend or you find it on social media. So tattoo shops have to pick a name that sets them apart from the rest, that tells clients who they are and what kind of experience to expect. Denver has its fair share of tattoo shops, many of them with original, witty, weird and memorable names. Here are our top ten.
10) Certified Customs At first glance, you might not think Certified Customs is a tattoo shop. In fact, initially the owner himself didn't know what his business was going to be. When Nando "Yeyo" Mondragon was released after five years in prison, he wanted to start his own company. Formerly a certified welder, he was thinking of opening a cell-phone shop. "When we were talking about names, I just came up with Certified Customs because it could really mean anything," Mondragon says.And when he decided to start a tattoo shop in 2007, he decided to keep the name -- even though it wasn't particularly tied to the tattoo industry.
9) Sol Tribe Tattoo & Body Piercing Before opening Sol Tribe, Alicia Cardenas was the co-owner of Twisted Sol for thirteen years. "Twisted Sol was the first custom shop in Denver," Cardenas says. "Before that, a lot of the shops had flash designs on the wall, and custom shops at that time were kind of unheard of. When we opened, we had nothing on the wall for people to choose from, but actually required that the artists have some pretty serious art skills. It kind of changed the whole game as far as tattooing in Denver." When she opened Sol Tribe in 2009, she wanted to pay homage to the shop that had started it all -- but she also wanted to set it apart from other shops by focusing on the ancient roots of tattoo art. "Tattooing has a really rich history among sailors and Americana culture, but we were sort of taking it back a little further to the indigenous people of the planet," she explains.
8) Ritual Tattoo & Gallery Sandi Calistro and Missy Rhysing opened Ritual Tattoo earlier this year. When considering a name for their shop/gallery, the co-owners thought about what tattooing means to them. "Every time you sit down to do a tattoo, you're performing a ritual," Rhysing says. "We both believe it's a sacred thing that we get to do. You're having this intimate relationship with a client and there's definitely an energy exchange, and I think that's really what Ritual means." The name also evokes a dark, underground quality with which both artists identify. Keep reading for seven more of the best tattoo shop names.
7) Fallen Owl Tattoo Studio Fallen Owl opened in 2010, but the name dates back to before owner Adam Rose was born: His grandfather had a taxidermied owl, which he would use to terrify his children and grandchildren. When Rose was sixteen, he inherited the owl -- which by then had become a symbol for his family. He has an owl tattooed across his chest, and has done plenty of research on the mythology that surrounds the animal. "When it came time to name my shop, I knew I wanted to do something with the owl," Rose says. "A flock of owls is referred to as a parliament -- there's actually only one species of owl that flocks -- so Fallen Owl almost seemed like falling from grace, falling from parliament. It had kind of double meaning to it." But if you ask about the name while at the shop, you might hear a different story, about a baby owl they rescued that was subsequently hit by a car on Colfax.
6) Dedication Tattoo Sam Yamini, Andy Canino, Jason Boatman and Brian Thurow joined together to open Dedication Tattoo about two years ago. "When we came up with the concept of the shop, we really did feel like a lot of our tattoo experiences were lacking in some ways, and felt that the dedication to the life being a tattooer was what it would really require to stand apart," Yamini says. "We're all extremely dedicated to what we do and the way that we live, and that includes getting tattoos so we have a relatable experience to every single one of our customers. Everyone who works here is pretty much completely covered from ears to toenails." So they decided to name the shop Dedication, to show just how committed to the lifestyle they really are.
5) Mammoth American When Will Thidemann and Sandi Calistro owned Kaze, they'd inherited the name of the gallery. So when Thidemann opened his new shop, he was excited to finally choose his own name. "I wanted something that was more grounded, more Americana. I had a lot of ideas that referenced Virginia and sort of Colonial stuff," he says. But it was one of his friends who came up with the name Mammoth American. "He brought up that he had name and I blew it off before I even heard it. And then when I heard it, it was perfect. It was a nice gift from a friend. It sums up everything I wanted before I even knew what I wanted," Thidemann explains.
4) Thick As Thieves Tattoo Mike Pinto was the co-owner of Guilt By Association before he opened Thick As Thieves, drawing inspiration from the sense of camaraderie among misfits he'd found at Guilt By Association. "I call it my home for wayward boys," Pinto says. "You got a bunch of guys in here and attitudes can fly a little bit, but I think the artwork speaks for itself." The fact that the acronym is TAT was just an added bonus.
Continue reading for the best tattoo shop names in Denver.
3) Old Larimer Street Tattoo Joe Miller didn't have to think too hard when picking the name for his shop, located in the historic Ballpark neighborhood. "The building was built in 1859 and it has a Victorian front, wrought-iron bars, a really elegant gate -- and, no-brainer, we're on Larimer Street," he says. The ever-evolving neighborhood has changed a lot since the shop opened in 2009. "This area of town has seen the biggest boom of growth out of any neighborhood in Denver in the last five years," Miller adds. "It went from street drug deals in plain sight to very high-end restaurants and bars. It has kind of transformed the neighborhood."
2) Bound By Design Bound By Design is known not only for its tattoo artists, but also for quality piercers. According to owner Patrick Scarano, this shop owes its name to the S&M community. "Modern piercing had started with the S&M community," he says. "Bound by Design was kind of a throwback to that." The shop has been open since 1991, and has changed owners since then. But the vibe of the shop as well as its name remain the same. "We kept the name after the previous owner passed away because it was so ingrained in the community," Scarano adds.
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1) Kitchens' Ink Tattoo & Art Gallery The idea of a stranger digging ink-soaked needles into your skin for hours at a time can be scary, so some comfort is welcome when you're getting a tattoo. Kitchens' Ink provides this comfort through its name, which nods to the coziest room in the house. "It's where everybody hangs out. I liked how personable it is and the easy access the name gave," says owner Joe Manley, who got the idea for the name while tattooing a friend in his kitchen. Not everyone gets the pun, and during its first couple of years in business, the shop received countless calls from people looking to buy kitchen supplies. Eight years later, Kitchens' Ink is well-known, and clients feel right at home here.