As Denver gets bigger, so does the range of tattoo shops and artists — some homegrown, others transplanted. This means that finding the right artist for your piece is no small task. And perhaps you're plagued by questions: What style? How big? Will this age beautifully? How much will it hurt?
Whether you're looking for your first tattoo or are covering the last speck of your skin, Denver's best tattoo artists can talk and walk you through the inking process so you end up with the pieces you want.
Westword took a look at Denver's tattoo scene as of 2019 and found a glut of amazing artists. Without further ado, here are ten of our favorites.
World Tattoo Denver
246 West 6th Avenue
Many of Joey B's traditional pieces pay homage to the early days of tattooing, with designs of scorpions, clipper ships and Pharaoh's Horses, but he also delves into the new and surreal. A little color goes a long way with Joey; his line work and traditional stippling speak for themselves. Follow him at @hand_of_the_world.
Sol Tribe Tattoo & Body Piercing
Alicia Cardenas started apprenticing as a piercer at the age of sixteen, went pro at seventeen, and opened her first shop then. In 2009 she opened Sol Tribe, where she focuses on sacred geometry and blackwork, in addition to piercing, scarring and more — all while teaching body modification safety, mural painting and other arts. Her work is not just about making a beautiful piece — which she does with a steady hand and an eye for detail; it's also about the whole experience of body modification. Follow her at @soltribemama.
Ritual Tattoo Gallery
4241 Jason Street
Sandi Calistro, who's been included on our list of Denver's Best Tattoo Artists before, boasts an easy-to-spot style, which she hones as a muralist and fine artist. If you're a fan of the macabre and mysterious, she should be your pick. Follow her at @sandicalistro.
Bobbi Stark Keepsake Studio
8600 West 14th Avenue, Lakewood
Bobbi Stark was tattooing in Lakewood a while ago, then left, but now she's back with her own studio. At first glance, Stark's work reflects a lot of nice natural linework and shading, with an emphasis on detail and a striking use of color. Whether you're looking for a piece that's realistic or surreal, Stark has you covered. Follow her at @ladystark88.
Til Death Denver
3047 Larimer Street
Til Death Denver hosts a handful of talented artists. One of their newest, Gina Ilczyszyn, has mastered a few different styles: traditional, neo-traditional and geometrical. She keeps her lines precise and intentional. Most of her pieces are simple black designs, but she does dabble in color, and she perfects her art with mural painting and canvas work. Follow her at @tattoosbygina.
Lucky 13 Tattoo & Piercing
1550 Kipling Street, Lakewood
Lilith Jacobs is new to Lucky 13 but has been tattooing around Denver for much longer. She's varied in her approach, which makes her a great artist to go to if you're not quite sure what you want to get, whether it's traditional, realistic, geometrical or based in watercolor; her pieces include a healthy dose of lowbrow imagery, feminist ideology and pop culture. Follow her at @lilith_tattoos.
True Blue Tattoo
305 South Kipling Street, Lakewood
While the artists at True Blue, including Ben Miller, do all styles, Miller's specialty is traditional American fare. He can create something simple or ornate. Ben also dabbles in play piercing, which contributes to his knowledge of how the body moves and flows — something you'll want when you're picking a tattoo design. Follow him at @TattooingByBen.
Ritual Tattoo Gallery
4241 Jason Street
Nothing's more pure than a stick-and-poke tattoo, and they are very much in high demand. Want one? In Denver, the artist you'll want to see is Rachel Paton. Her fine lines, stylish designs and obsession over the small stuff keep her calendar filled months in advance. Follow both of her accounts at @blackity_black_black and @rainbow_smite.
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James Dean Pruitt
Crimson Hilt Tattoo
2907 Colfax Avenue
James Dean Pruitt's use of color and combination of styles are something to behold, especially in his larger pieces. They're bright, vibrant, sleek and clean. He's the kind of artist that makes tattooing look easy as he tailors jaw-dropping designs to the curves of the body. Follow him at @jd.pruitt.
1449 West Littleton Boulevard, Littleton
Tucked into a private little studio in Littleton, Melanie Steinway creates pieces that combine sacred geometry and nature; there's something almost supernatural about her work. A graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design, she's detailed-oriented and creates distinct, subtle pieces. Follow her at @melaniesteinway.
Do you have favorite tattoo artists not mentioned above? Let us know who they are and why they're your faves at firstname.lastname@example.org.