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2024

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Best Tattoo Shops in San Diego

Our Recommended Top 18

We did the research for you!

  • Licensing
  • User Reviews
  • Mystery Shopping Calls

Our goal is to connect people with the best local professionals. We scored San Diego Tattoo Shops on more than 25 variables across five categories, and analyzed the results to give you a hand-picked list of the best.

281Reviewed

175Curated

18Top Picks

Learn about our selection process.

Providers

featured provider = Featured Provider

Website
1142 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Above All Tattoo is a tattoo shop that has served the San Diego area since 2002. Each artist helps bring tattoo designs into reality through consultation services. The various artists specialize in black-and-gray, color, and Japanese-style artwork. The shop typically has one artist available on the weekends to handle walk-in business, but most artists have a waiting list of up to two months. Above All Tattoo also provides body piercing.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.5
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (235)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
3.7
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
––
Detail

Website
914 West Washington Street, San Diego, CA 92103
  • Body Art

Why choose this provider?

Buju Tattoo is a San Diego-based tattoo studio that aims to provide a fun and friendly tattooing experience, as it incorporates each client’s preferences into designs. It has experienced artists who handle various tattoo styles such as realistic, traditional, watercolor, fine-line black and grey, cosmetic, and illustrative. Jeanie Clark, Buju Tattoo's cosmetic tattoo artist, has trained under multiple instructors and has been practicing permanent cosmetics for six years. Her work has been featured in the San Diego Voyager.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (266)
Facebook
5.0 / 5 (59)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
2312 30th Street, San Diego, CA 92104
  • Body Art

Why choose this provider?

Full Circle Tattoos is a San Diego tattoo shop that started offering its services in 2008. Clients can choose from 10 in-house artists who have decades of experience in various tattooing styles. Some of the styles available at the studio are American, traditional Japanese, anime, botanical, black and grey, and realistic. The shop is owned by Bill Canales, a Japanese tattoo specialist who has been tattooing since 1992. He specializes in creating large dragon tattoos.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (389)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
2419 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Neotraditional Tattoos
  • Realism Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Bearcat Tattoo Gallery is a San Diego tattoo studio. The shop is frequented for its use of traditional techniques and designs as well as new styles and methods. The tattoo artists at this studio offer diverse work, such as large ornate pieces, Japanese-influenced, photorealistic and illustration, surrealism, and American and neo-traditional. They also create tattoos inspired by cartoons, pop culture, urban legends, Disney, and band art. Bearcat Tattoo Gallery also supplies shirts, beanies, hats, and coffee mugs.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (79)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1122 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Body Art

Why choose this provider?

Guru Tattoo is a San Diego tattoo shop. Clients have 16 resident tattooers as well as various guest artists to choose from at any given time, and all talent brings decades of combined experience in the ink world. Guru also sells t-shirts and art prints, and tattoo removal service is available as well. Artists' work has been seen in multiple media outlets such as on TV's Tattoo Wars and in Tattoo Artist, Hard Rock Magazine, Dirty Magic Book, and Southern California Road Trip.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.6
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (256)
Facebook
4.8 / 5 (139)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1453 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Funhouse Tattoo & Piercing is a San Diego tattoo shop. Clients have access to eight artists, all with their own various styles such as Polynesian tribal tattooing, graffiti, fine-line, new school, black and gray, Mexican-Aztec, realism, and portraiture. Artists ask that any drawings or photos of the desired piece be brought in to discuss during a consultation. Clients must also bring valid ID to prove they are 18 years of age.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (291)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
3780 Hancock Street, San Diego, CA 92110
  • Body Art
  • Piercings

Why choose this provider?

SD Tattoo has been providing the greater San Diego community with custom-designed tattoos and body piercing services since 2011. The shop features the work of nine talented tattoo artists who have decades of combined experience. They practice proper tattoo and piercing aftercare and strive to create a welcoming and comfortable environment for clients. They also offer ear piercing services for children. The tattoo artists are known for their diversity in styles.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.5
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (402)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1947 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92102
  • Body Art
  • Piercings

Why choose this provider?

Left Hand Black has been offering tattoo services in San Diego since 2009 and has almost 30 years of combined experience in the field. Owner Turk previously worked at Guru Tattoo and now inks alongside another tattooer and a bevy of famous guest artists. Full portfolios can be viewed online, and clients can also purchase various artworks, prints, books, stickers, and t-shirts. Left Hand Black is closed on Mondays.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.9
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (67)
Facebook
4.8 / 5 (42)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
454 North Coast Highway 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

454 Tattoo and Body Piercing serves the Encinitas community with body art. Artist galleries can be viewed online for people to choose which tattooer they would like to work with. 454 Tattoo follows strict standards of cleanliness and sterilization procedures to avoid cross-cotemination, and artists use new and pre-sterilized needles for each client. Jewelry and piercing services are also available, and clients must be 18 years of age or older to receive tattoos.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.5
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (249)
Facebook
4.9 / 5 (27)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1515 Palm Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
  • Body Art
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Located in San Diego, Wylde Sydes Tattoo & Body Piercing is a tattoo shop in the area that offers custom tattoo and piercing to men and women from across the globe. The shop has three professional artists and a retired L.V.N. for piercing with combined decades of industry experience. Body piercing of clients 18 years old and above includes such parts as the belly button, tongue, nose, nipple, and eyebrows. Piercing of the nipple is barred on minors regardless of parental consent.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.2
Facebook
4.0 / 5 (362)
Google
4.6 / 5 (138)
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (123)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
2913 University Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
  • Body Art
  • Piercings
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Since the 1980s, Big City Tattoo has been providing tattoo services to San Diego residents. Hand-tap tattoos, cover-ups and removals, piercings, and custom tattoos are among the services offered. Its personalized tattoo designs are discussed between the artist and the customer. Only clients above the age of 18 are encouraged to get tattooed at the tattoo shop. Furthermore, Big City Tattoo specializes in a variety of styles, including Japanese, black and gray, old school, new school, and portrait tattooing.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.7
Facebook
5.0 / 5 (80)
Google
4.3 / 5 (50)
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (18)

Website
3009 Myrtle Avenue, San Diego, CA 92104
  • Body Art
  • Portraits

Why choose this provider?

Terry Ribera's Remington Tattoo Parlor + Gallery is a combination of industrial/modern meets an apothecary/artist's studio in San Diego. The tattoo shop was built in 1914 and was restored in 2011. It specializes in illustrative tattooing, traditional, black and grey, full color, bio-mechanical, and neo-traditional designs. They also do tattoo cover-ups and repairs. Their team of artists brings decades of tattooing experience and artistic ability to develop custom tattoos that will match each client's vision and style.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (200)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
900 F Street, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Seven Seas Tattoo is a San Diego tattoo studio with over 20 years of experience in the field. Patrons come to the shop for its reputation of being safe and sterile as well as for its quality designs and friendly staff. The four in-house artists have photos of their work online to be viewed and can cater to most any client suggestion and style desired. Walk-ins are welcome.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.5
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (117)
Facebook
4.7 / 5 (33)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1000 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Luckys Tattoo Parlor is one of the first tattoo shops that opened in San Diego back in 1989. Its crew of tattoo artists specializes in various styles of tattooing. Their extensive portfolio includes multi-colored, black and grey, tribal, and custom design work. They help clients convey meaning and importance through tattoo symbols. In addition, the shop also does state-of-the-art machinery-assisted hygienic body piercings of different shapes and sizes. It also provides permanent makeup cosmetics upon clients' request.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.6
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (88)
Google
4.0 / 5 (74)
Facebook
5.0 / 5 (38)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1760 Palm Avenue, San Diego, CA 92154
  • Body Art

Why choose this provider?

Vipers Ink Tattoo is a San Diego tattoo parlor owned by professional tattoo artist Frank Gomez. He specializes in portraits, black and gray, tribal, and color tattoos. He started the business in 2013 and has been welcoming new clients regularly since. Frank also does custom tattoos inspired by Japanese, biomechanical, and pin-up designs. Additionally, he does fill-ins around existing tattoos. Frank is a Christian, married to his wife and co-owner Misty Gomez, and father to three children.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.3
Google
4.0 / 5 (19)
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (8)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
3.5
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
3215 Mission Boulevard, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Body Art
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Mission Beach Tattoo has been serving the San Diego area since 1997. The company specializes in traditional American tattoos. However, the tattoo artists are experienced in all different styles of tattoo. In addition, the studio offers body piercing services and stocks a wide range of custom body jewelry. All equipment used at the shop is single-use, ensuring the cleanliness of all implements. Mission Beach Tattoo was the winner in San Diego's Best of Tattoo Shops category.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
4.6
Facebook
4.6 / 5 (316)
Google
4.7 / 5 (199)
Yelp
4.5 / 5 (98)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

Website
1968 Garnet Avenue, San Diego, CA 92109
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Garnet Tattoo is a San Diego tattoo studio with 20 years of experience in the field. Founder Shane Wallin specializes in bold, bright tattoos and portraiture but can cater to a diverse range of requests as well for custom designs. Garnett is also widely experienced in post-mastectomy decorative and 3D nipple tattoos and has received much attention for this work. Mr. Wallin has been featured on NBC San Diego, by Susan G. Komen - San Diego, and in TRIP MAGAZIN.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Facebook
5.0 / 5 (28)
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (10)

Website
4857 Newport Avenue, San Diego, CA 92107
  • Body Art
  • Traditional Tattoos

Why choose this provider?

Chapter One Tattoo provides tattoo artwork in the San Diego area. The shop is known for its friendly, laid-back, and welcoming environment as well as various styles and high quality ink. Clients can look through each artist's gallery and choose from styles including traditional, black and gray realism, letter art, graphic design, graffiti, line work, and Japanese. Instructions for preparing for a visit as well as aftercare are also listed online.

Reputation:

We scour the internet for reviews from well-known resources. Each provider is evaluated based on the quality and quantity of their reviews, their presence on multiple review sites, and their average minimum rating.
5.0
Yelp
5.0 / 5 (452)

Professionalism:

We hire mystery shoppers to call our providers anonymously and evaluate them. Providers who respond quickly, answer questions thoroughly, and communicate politely score higher.
5.0
Responsiveness
Friendliness
Helpfulness
Detail

FAQs

  • Introduction

    A tattoo is body art that leaves permanent designs or pictures on the skin. They're applied via needle by depositing ink onto the second layer of skin. While the first tattoos were applied manually with a single needle that was first saturated in ink, today's tattoos are done by a machine. These machines feature multiple needles that pierce the skin simultaneously, speeding up the process and creating tattoos that are more visually appealing.

    Tattoos are usually done in licensed tattoo shops. These shops adhere to health and cleaning standards and are typically regulated by state and municipal governments. While tattoos are generally safe, there are associated risks, including skin infections. Any person getting a tattoo is legally required to be at least 18 years of age. It's also inadvisable for anyone who isn't in good health to get a tattoo, as the body requires time and energy to heal and prevent infection.

  • What should you know before getting your first tattoo?

    Before getting tattooed, it's important to think about design and placement. A tattoo is a permanent fixture on the body, and it's important not to rush into things. You should also consider the artist's background and take time to look into their portfolio to ensure their style best suits the tattoo you want.

  • What are some examples of tattoo styles?

    There are many types of tattoo styles, and it's important for a person to familiarize themselves with them before they select a design. Styles include:

    • Americana: Bold lines, vivid colors
    • Japanese: Large images that cover the back, arms, and legs
    • Black and Grey: Colorless grayscale designs
    • Stick-n-Poke: Thick, bold, black lines and small designs
    • Blackwork: Bold black lines and larger geometric shapes

  • Is tipping expected & how much to tip on your tattoo?

    While most tattoo artists don't expect tips, it's often appreciated. If you're happy with the work your tattoo artist has done, consider tipping between 15% and 25%. If the tattoo requires multiple sessions, a flat amount per session is appropriate.

  • What are some basic tattoo aftercare tips?

    It's important to follow all aftercare directions provided by the tattoo artist. Usually, artists will advise clients to ensure that tattoos are kept clean and dry. After showering, the tattoo should be gently patted dry and treated with Vaseline or another tattoo aftercare product.

  • What are the best practices for healing a tattoo?

    After removing the dressing, it's important to keep the tattoo clean, dry, and uncovered. Applying Vaseline or another recommended ointment can help to speed up the healing process. As they heal, tattoos can sometimes itch, but it's vital that you don't scratch or pick at it.

  • What are the most and least painful places to get a tattoo?

    Parts of the body that have the most nerve endings are generally the most painful to have tattooed. That includes the head, ears, and face. Places that don't have a lot of fat, such as the fingers, shoulder blades, and feet, are typically more painful. The least painful parts of the body to get tattooed include the outer arm, buttocks, and thighs.