I was 30 years old when I got my first tattoo. It was the Ouroboros (the snake eating itself), symbolizing totality, no end, no beginning. I've always been attracted to symbols and wanted something to represent my tenets. I had hung out in tattoo shops around Richmond for quite some time. I'd try and help where I could, sweeping or just hanging out. There was also something dangerous about it then. The truth is, I met some amazing artists during that time and some sweethearts who let me watch and observe their craft. These guys were respected in my little scene and I liked how they were like these big brothers who watched over me. Never once during that time did I get a tattoo. I talked about it, but never knew what it was I wanted permanently on my body. I think I was deterred by roommate's toast and egg tattoo, "What! I like breakfast!" she exclaimed after coming home with it one afternoon.
I have five tattoos now. I don't know if I'm done or not, but all the ones I have symbolize my history representing literature, my heritage and my beliefs. In that time, I have watched artists evolve and increase what is now a very lucrative business, especially here in RVA. More women than ever have also joined the front with many notables as the award-winning Amy Black. Before, people would stare at my sleeved friends at the mall, now, I have people in the grocery store line asking me where i got my work done and what it all means. I get little old ladies telling me how beautiful my seahorses are and ask me what the lines in French mean. It has definitely changed.
Today is National Tattoo Day and since Richmond is still high on the list of most tattooed city in the United States, I thought I would list my picks for best tattoo artists in Richmond. Feel free to post your ink on Instagram today and tag us! #SPTTATTOO
Erin Chance, Unkindess Art
Erin Chance is probably one of my favorite tattoo artists in town. Her ink work is stellar and I love the images she conjures. Gorgeous work!
ISH, Heroes & Ghosts
If you want black work, Ish is your guy. He does beautifully ornate work with folk art and cultural images. This Dayton, Ohio native found his home in RVA and he's been tattooing at Heroes & Ghosts for several years. One cannot deny his talent.
Matt Brotka, Brotka
A true artist, Matt Brotka specializes in work encompassing Asian and Americana culture. His images are vibrant and he is a true storyteller with his work.
The Artists at Black Rabbit
This all girl created tattoo shop is the bees knees. Located on Belmont this crew does really nice work in wide range of genres as well as featuring a number of guest artists, these ladies do a fantastic job!
My heart is always with Absolute Art because I've had so many friends apprentice here and become great tattooers. You can't go wrong with the likes of Brian Bruno or Mike Rennie, but most the artists there are talented. Jason Hobbie is an original and he has always made me feel welcome. A great place to go for those traditional tats.