Redommend a tattoo artist in the greater Boston area.
June 7, 2006 9:22 PM   Subscribe

Getting inked in Massachusetts. Where to go?

I'd like to get my first-ever tattoo (on my right shoulderblade). It'll be about 3" in diameter, I figure, or thereabouts, hopefully with some interesting color shading (the original graphic is a B&W illustration).

Where in Massachusetts is the best place in terms of safety, sanitary conditions, and sheer artistry? I include places as far from Boston as Northampton and Providence, because I recall someone having an absolutely gorgeous full-color tattoo from someplace out in Noho.

My pain tolerance, incidentally, sucks, but I'm about to have my third surgery this year, so I think I'm actually getting used to the concept. (I understand that my choice of body location and desire for "subtle shading" run completely contrary to the notion of minimizing pain, but I'm a bundle of contradictions.)
posted by mykescipark to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My advice: don't have it done in MA.

Secondary advice: don't sleep on important sheets the nights you are still bleeding ink and wearing vaseline. Your bedmate will thank you for the non-tat-imprinted-sheets.
posted by saffron at 10:21 PM on June 7, 2006

This is interesting. I spent Spring Break 1997 in Boston with my college roommate, and she told me that it was illegal to get a tattoo in Massachusetts. We ended up driving to Connecticut to get my tat. Has the law changed since then?
posted by web-goddess at 10:39 PM on June 7, 2006

Yes, the law has changed. However there are other zoning laws that have kept tattoo parlors from being too prevalent in Mass. When I was in college, before the new laws, my friends used to go to Connecticut to get ink. If you don't wind up getting local advice here, the Boston Craigslist group is a nice bunch of people with a lot of useful local advice.
posted by jessamyn at 11:28 PM on June 7, 2006

Call Lucky's in Northampton, MA to schedule an appointment, especially if you're out of town. Make sure to mention any surgeries or health problems, as they are meticulous about health code violations. If you're nearby and would like to check out their work in person or compare it to other local shops, come down for a day, enjoy the local food, color, and generally enjoy yourself.
my friends used to go to Connecticut to get ink.
I remember when the Edge and many of its competitors opened shops close to the MA border to take advantage of this. I don't remember, however, any of the artists ever being nearly as good as the illegal tatoos you could get in Northampton at the time. I don't think the MA tatoo scene has remained the same quality in the last 15 years, but there are a handful of places that I believe you will be happy with in Northampton alone.
posted by sequential at 12:09 AM on June 8, 2006

There's also a tattoo parlour in Harvard Sq in Cambridge. I don't recall the name of it, but it's on the second floor of a building called 'The Garage' on JFK Street, on the south end of the square. I think it's between the Newbury Comics store and a Sci-Fi bookstore.
I can't attest to how good it is, but if it's a convenient commute, you may want to check it out
posted by darsh at 3:27 AM on June 8, 2006

There's a brand-new, and rather elaborate, place on the corner of Harvard and Cambridge Streets in Allston. It's called Stingray, and evidently it's staffed by some experienced, talented people.
posted by killdevil at 3:34 AM on June 8, 2006

I highly recommend Fat Ram's in JP. Ram's been tattooing for almost 20 years. I have a lot of friends who have tattoos done by him and have seen other really good work done by people in his shop. I plan to go there once I figure out exactly what I'm getting.
posted by jdl at 5:30 AM on June 8, 2006

the shop located in the garage is called the chameleon, i have not heard the best things about it. but to be honest i have never seen any of their work, i have just heard people making fun of them.

my brother has gotten a tatoo or two at fat ram's and he has been pleased with both of them. i checked out there website and it does not appear that either of the people that worked on him are still employed there though.
posted by phil at 6:16 AM on June 8, 2006

I've also heard several people say that Fat Ram's is one of the best places near Boston proper. Chameleon [the one in the Garage] doesn't have a great reputation, although apparently they've been getting better recently.
posted by ubersturm at 6:46 AM on June 8, 2006

I went to the one in the Garage (Chameleon) for my first (only) tattoo and the staff was very kind to me. I'd recommend them only for n00b/start tattoos of simple design and easy location.

I have friends that swear by Pumpkin, so I'd third the recommendations for Fat Ram.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:10 AM on June 8, 2006

Julie Moon Studios I went there when they were located in Seabrook, NH. They're now in Lynn, MA.

They were great. The studio was immaculate and the folks were friendly. When I get another tattoo I'm definitely going there again.
posted by MasonDixon at 7:48 AM on June 8, 2006

Back when I was in high school, before the law had changed, all my friends used to go down to Providence to get their ink. I did know one person who later got one at the Garage (which Robocop mentioned) and it seemed fine for her small design. I probably wouldn't choose that place because (rightly or wrongly) I would want to go somewhere that is solely dedicated to tattooing and nothing else. I'd probably go to an established place in Providence.
posted by rmless at 9:25 AM on June 8, 2006

FWIW, when I lived in Amherst I had a piercing done at Lucky's in Northampton - they were phenomenal. A friend had a nipple piercing done there, too, and also raved. I've only heard good things about them for ink, whereas I've heard a lot of bad things mixed with the good about Chameleon, in Harvard Square (in The Garage). Seems like their staff either fluctuates a lot, or the quality of the staff members vary widely from person to person.
posted by AthenaPolias at 3:28 PM on June 8, 2006

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