Established in 1986 by world-famous graffiti artist and tattooist Richard “Seen” Mirando, Tattoo Seen (TS) is one of the oldest shops in NYC, predating legalization of the art form by over a decade. Both TS’s longevity and connection to the greater artistic landscape of the city make it one of the most fascinating shops to set foot in throughout the entire metropolitan area.
For the first 10 years of business, the shop operated in a speakeasy fashion, using Wild Child Body Piercing as a front and churning out tattooing on the second floor. Tattooing was illegal in the state of New York from 1961 to 1996, because officials claimed that it posed a treat to public health. Once the prohibition on tattoos was finally lifted, the shop officially opened its doors and has been a fixture in the Throggs Neck and greater NYC tattoo community ever since. “Seen’s fame brings a lot of fans into our shop, but this place is not just about graffiti. It’s about making great tattoos, too,” says Petie, the shop's floor manager. “We continue to honor his legacy by creating quality art here.”
The inside of TS is thoroughly decked out in the expected flash designs, but the walls also contain an astonishing amount of visual art by renowned painters and street artists from the last quarter of the 20th century. A number of Seen’s original works border the walls, and if you’re lucky enough to get a peek into any of the team members’ individual work spaces, you’ll catch glimpses of pieces such as Rat Finks by Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and even a police riot helmet with illustrations by Keith Haring all over it. These are precious pieces of art, many of which were fabricated on location at TS over the last 30 years, making it as much a living relic of the city’s artistic legacy as it is a tattoo parlor.
On top of being a veritable museum, TS also is home to numerous talented tattoo artists, who exercise a wide range of stylistic expertise. They create everything from rock solid traditional to exquisite color portraiture. Just like in their renegade days, the shop still offers body piercing (by Dez) and has a wide variety of fine jewelry to choose from.
Beyond the many services offered, the shop has great vibes. TS has one of the friendliest staffs imaginable. Not only are they extremely helpful and friendly, everyone there loves to converse with their clientele, chatting about everything from fine art to the nerdiest aspects of pop culture. Basically, they’re ready and able to accommodate just about anyone who walks through the door.
Mike "Prospect" Reda has been with TS a long time. He apprenticed there, and the quality training he received shows in his work. He makes excellent traditional tattoos with bold lines and bright color palettes that will blow you away.
When it comes to realistic body art, Ivan Muniz is TS's main man. He does black and grey tattoos that are on the darker end of the spectrum of light, and his work is notable for its incredible level of detail and strikingly lifelike qualities.
Alongside creating all sorts of awesome visual art, even toys, Den Ramos produces some killer tattoos. He's one of the shop’s most well-rounded artists. His traditional is fantastic, but he also does a bit of Japanese-inspired work as well.
Several other notable tattooists hang their hats at TS, including Mel Mullahey, Pete Vincents, and a wide array of visiting artists on occasion.
The Nitty Gritty Details
Tattoo Seen is a bit off the beaten path but well worth the commute. It is located just across from the St. Raymond Cemetery in Throgs Neck at 3177 E Tremont Ave., Bronx, NY. It is only a 10 minute drive from Westchester County and a five minute walk from the Middleton Rd. stop on the 6 line.
If you want to set up an appointment with any of their artists, the shop can be reached at 718-892-9370 or firstname.lastname@example.org. They are also accustomed to servicing walkins, so if you want to check out some of the awesome art there and get a tattoo while you’re at it, just drop on by. They are open seven days a week from 12-11pm.
If they happen to be super busy when you go, there are a number of good places to eat nearby, but honestly looking at all of the amazing art there is the best way to pass some of the time.