Over the years tattoos have evolved from a symbol of the criminal underworld to a universal art form used as a form of self-expression and tribute. Portraits of family and idols, homage to favourite cartoons and video games, religion and various sub-cultures… the possibilities are as endless as your imagination. But, you gotta remember, ink is a very serious process—it is on you for life, after all. Make sure to think long and hard before you step into that chair and choose your parlour and artist carefully.
As the world’s most tattooed nation, its no surprise we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing a tattoo studio in Auckland. There are so many parlours, how do you tell the good from the bad? How do you know who takes hygiene seriously and who has a steady hand? How do you choose a place that specialized in the style you want? Well, it’s easy. We've done our research and compiled a list of places you can trust to give you the tattoo you want, safely so go forth and ink.
Seventh Day Studio
With Leonardo da Vinci’s quote “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” guiding the team behind Seventh Day, it’s apparent that their design philosophy lies in “less is more”. Following this approach, Seventh Day have assembled a tight-knit team of talented artists with an emphasis on fine-line and black-work tattooing. This is your go-to for minimalistic, delicate, one-line, illustrative, geometric and ornamental pieces. Artists here are big on flowers, landscapes and animal designs rendered in predominantly black ink, with stippled and cross-hatched tonal modelling.
Living behind the infamous K’ Rd on Cross Street, Sunset Tattoo are everything you expect in a great tattoo parlour. A bold and bright façade invites you in to a clean studio where the walls are plastered with beautiful art work. Most importantly, though, Sunset cater to every kind of tattoo request. With numerous industry leaders gathered under one roof, they basically employ the dream team. Sunset’s squad is so varied that they have an artist specialising in almost every style out there—whether you’re after Japanese irezumi or American traditional, geometric, ornamental or even flowing Maori moko, they have the right artist for every job.
Two Hands Tattoo
Established in 2005 so with many years’ experience under their belt, it’s fair to say Two Hands are a big name in the Auckland tattoo scene. Not only do they have an impressive line-up of resident tattooers, but they also regularly host revered guest artists from all over the world. The core team at Two Hands can do almost anything you could ever ask of them, but their main areas of expertise lie in bold American traditional, colourful Japanese, black and grey and black-work. Regardless the style, the result is always stunning, with clean lines and perfectly packed colour. Keep an eye on their social for details of the occasional flash day.
Running a tattoo parlour out of a beautiful townhouse in Kingsland, Sacred are a long-time frontrunner on the local tattoo scene. Specializing in Japanese, American traditional and black-work, Sacred are your go-to for bright colour, bold lines and sticker-like finish. Sacred are the go-to for a flawless tattoo experience, with expert advice on hand ensuring a smooth process from start to finish. The shop takes appointments for custom designs as well as walk-ins, and has a revolving roster of guest artists ready to transform your body into a piece of art.
Ship Shape Tattoo
Ship Shape are THE gods of realistic tattooing in Auckland. Their parlour may be a way out of central Auckland, but boy is it worth the trip for a perfect, photorealistic piece. With artists specialising in both colour and black and grey realism, there is no better place to go if you’re after portraiture of any kind—be it human or animal. Ship Shape’s artists are masters of contrast, creating drama through juxtaposition of colour and light to create contrast and 3D modelling. Their work is a testament to the state of modern day tattooing, wowing us one piece at a time.
The Tattooed Heart
Living on K Rd, occupying the space which was previously home to Illicit, The Tattooed Heart is a definite top dog in the industry. Housing several of Auckland’s tattoo veterans, this is the perfect place for Japanese, neo traditional and American traditional styles. What’s more is Tattooed Heart also offer cosmetic tattooing as well as laser fading and tattoo removal.
As a relative newcomer to the scene, ‘Til Death has wasted no time in making a name for itself. This is the place if you’re looking for something interesting, quirky and unique. The tight-knit team here consists of some of the most artistically creative individuals in the industry with impressive portfolios. Between the team, ‘Til Death covers most styles of tattooing, whether you’re after a fun new school design, a stark neo traditional piece, black and grey or minimalistic black-line—they’ll have the perfect artist for you.
Black Cat Tattoo
Previously known as Kingsland Ink, Black Cat donned a new name when they moved into their new Kingsland premises. Specializing in custom designs, they employ the best of the best, guaranteeing a flawless tattoo experience to their customers. The small team consists of very diverse and creative artists. Black Cat does some of the best new school work in the city, including stunning pin ups, quirky food tattoos and renditions of every Disney character known to man. Their other fortes include black and grey, neo tradition and Americana, so there’s something here for everyone.
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