The art of tattooing is the process of body modification that goes back thousands of years, spanning different cultures, nationalities, religions, and value systems. 

From religious and ceremonial purposes to simply wanting a meaningful piece of art on your body, tattoos have grown in prevalence and are much more widely accepted by the public. The Cincy Region has a variety of reputable studios to choose from, with talented artists representing all tattoo styles. If you're a local thinking about getting a new piece, or a "tattourist" wanting a forever memento from Cincy - we've got you covered. 

"Tattourism," a trend pioneered by Gen Z and millennials, who memorialize a trip with a tattoo as the ultimate souvenir. They'll often travel far for the opportunity to get etched by a renowned tattoo artist, whose creativity is on display on social media and whose highly coveted designs sometimes lead to wait lists that span from months to even years (Source)."

From shops focusing on the iconic American Traditional style (including the legendary Dana Brunson), to Neo Traditional, Japanese Traditional, Realism, Watercolor and everything in between: this is a great city with a thriving tattoo scene. 

Basic Tips on Getting Tattooed

Never been tattooed before? Whether you're planning on getting a large piece, or something small - here are some tips that will help make your booking and tattooing experience go smoothly. 

 

Make an appointment! While some shops offer walk-ins, you'll find many artists are booked out for several weeks or months. For this reason, you'll want to do your research ahead of time and reach out to your desired artists using their preferred communication channels (IG DM, email, booking form on website, etc.). Many times, an artist will ask for a deposit to hold your date and time. Keep in mind these are artists earning their livelihood, their time is valuable, and this deposit is seen as a commitment from you as a client. Typically this payment will come off the final price of your tattoo.

 

Peregrine Tattoo 1

Credit: Peregrine Tattoo

Day-Of

The experience of getting tattooed is different for everyone. 

  • Pain tolerance varies from person to person – so prepare accordingly! Have a solid meal beforehand and make sure you’re hydrated. Bringing a snack or water bottle with you may be a good idea.

  • Make sure you’ve established your artist’s preferred method of payment. You may need to get cash beforehand. 

  • No alcohol! Just don’t. 

  • Any specific questions? Ask your artist!

White Whale Tattoo 1Credit: White Whale Tattoo

Tattoo Shops in the Cincy Region

Don't know where to get started or how to even start researching? The most obvious answer: ask your tattooed friend... Or, you could check out our list below that includes shops from all over the region, covering a variety of styles. Each tattoo shop links directly to their website or Instagram profiles, so you can look through their artist portfolios. 

 

Designs by Dana 1

Credit: Dana Brunson with Designs by Dana

Northern Kentucky

  • Illuminaut Tattoo; Ludlow, KY
    • Opened in 2012 by Brian Level, a professional cartoonist and comic book artist with a crazy portfolio including Batman, Star Wars, Spider-Man, Avengers and Deadpool. Ludlow is an up-and-coming neighborhood too - decompress after your appointment with a beer at circus-themed Bircus, or something stronger at Second Sight Spirits.
  • Bluegrass Tattoo; Florence, KY
    • Shop located in downtown Florence, with artists specializing in American and Japanese Traditional styles. Great portfolio of large-scale work (sleeves and back pieces) and cover-ups. 
  • Mothers Tattoo; Covington and Elsmere, KY
    • Two locations, both with teams of artists covering all styles imaginable and walk-ins welcome. Piercings are also available exclusively at their Elsmere location. Their recently renovated Covington shop is located right on Main Street in Mainstrasse, close to a number of boutique shops, restaurants and bars. 
  • Asylum Tattoo; Latonia, KY
    • Founded in 2005 and located in Latonia, Asylum specializes in American Traditional, black and grey realism,  graphic realism, and custom work. Piercings also available. Have time afterwards? Grab a killer burger at the nearby Bard's Burgers, or a dozen of fresh doughnuts from local institution Moonrise Doughnuts
  • Body of Art Tattoo; Bellevue, KY
    • This female-run, inclusive tattoo shop specializes in Neo-Traditional and vibrantly colorful pieces! Located just outside of Bellevue in Dayton, KY there are dozens of cute shops and restaurants (Galactic Fried Chicken, anyone?) off of Fairfield Avenue to spend time in afterwards. 

Downtown 

  • White Whale; Central Business District
    • Specializing in fine line, woodcut, pointillism and blackwork tattoos. This cool space is located on vibrant Main Street in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. These artists stay busy, so be sure and book ahead!
  • Crying Heart Tattoo; Over-the-Rhine
    • Specializing in bright and bold American Traditional; be sure to check out the shop’s Instagram for information on current and upcoming guest artists. Book directly through your desired artist. 
  • The Artsy Alien; Over-the-Rhine
    • ​​This private studio features the whimsical work of Kassidy Autumn. Check out her work if you're looking for an artist who specializes in cartoons and illustrations, as well as anything bright and fun. 

Artsy AlienPhoto: The Artsy Alien

Uptown

  • Designs by Dana; Northside
    • Founded by tattoo legend Dana Brunson (a veteran tattooer of over 50 years), this shop feels like part tattoo parlor and part tattoo museum. Come in with your own idea, or pick from their huge collection of classic flash art. Spend the day in Northside after; go vintage shopping down the block at Casablanca, or pick up a new record at Shake It
  • Lonesome Town Tattoo; Northside
    • Opened in 2020, Lonesome Town has quickly expanded and grown into one of the most popular shops in the area. Their team of four artists have styles that range from retro-inspired traditional and art nouveau portraits to slightly psychedelic nature scenes.
  • Peregrine Tattoo; Clifton
    • This new shop features a team of very experienced artists specializing mainly in American Traditional tattooing. Be sure and check out each artist's Instagram for flash options if you need inspiration on what to get.  

Peregrine Tattoo

Credit: Peregrine Tattoo