One of the most important facets of getting tattooed is finding the right artist! For those of you living on the east coast or planning to visit in the near future, we have compiled a list of some of the most talented artists to choose from. Spanning a variety of styles, specialties, and backgrounds, these artists are revered in the community for their dedication to the craft, unique perspectives, and superior craftsmanship. If you’re seeking an east coast artist who can perfectly execute your new tattoo, we’ve got an array of skilled artists to choose from! Read on to learn more about these incredible artists and their various areas of expertise.
Ryan Roi: Brooklyn, NY
Located right across the East River from Manhattan is Ryan Roi’s private boutique workspace, Dukkha Tattoo Studio, located in ultra-trendy neighborhood of Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Roi is a self-taught Fine-line tattooer who works exclusively in black ink. Roi specializes in masterfully rendering imagery featuring occult concepts, bio-mechanical illustrations, nature elements, ornamental geometric designs, and photo realistic floral pieces. He is also incredibly skilled at crafting realistic portraits of animals and people alike, providing the designs with a trademark Virgo perfectionism and incredibly clean linework.
Whether you’re seeking a tattoo of an anatomically accurate heart, or a macabre skull with flowers, Ryan Roi is an expert at making these designs imbue emotion, while preserving their artistic integrity.
Manny Valerio: Greenwich, CT
Manny Valerio is the owner and founder of Connecticut hotspot, Sovereign Tattoo. Working primarily in Black and Grey Realism, Valerio creates large-scale tattoos featuring impeccable portraiture. From images of Obama to portraits of the late rapper Nipsey Hussle, Valerio recreates facial details with ease, providing the perfect expression and sentiment to encapsulate these famous faces.
For those seeking to get a full sleeve or detailed back piece, Valerio is an excellent option. If you’re searching for an artist to deliver high quality full color tattoos, Valerio is adaptable enough to execute both styles, creating stunning and bright images of religious iconography, flowers, and animals alike.
Gerald Feliciano: Brooklyn/Manhattan, NY
If you’re searching for an incredibly versatile and well-rounded artist, Gerald Feliciano is a name to remember. His body of works traverses many styles and aesthetics, seeming to master all facets of the techniques and approaches required to make each tattoo feel authentic in its presentation.
His bold and fierce Blackwork designs often showcase imagery of large-scale snakes, recreations of fine art paintings, and beautifully executed organic imagery. Feliciano is also a highly skilled artist when it comes to Irezumi tattoos, possessing a distinct style and beauty in his designs featuring cherry blossoms, shibari, and expressive animal renderings. Whether you prefer fine-lined Blackwork, or bold and colorful designs, Feliciano is able to craft meaningful and exquisite tattoos with ease.
Tom Connors: Staten Island, NY
Tom Connors is a highly talented Traditional style tattoo artist located in Staten Island, New York.
His powerful and color-packed designs feature an array of traditional motifs from pin-up girls to horseshoes, all displayed in an iconic Americana fashion. Connor’s particular style of presentation affords his tattoos a certain humorous and light quality, allowing him to easily recreate imagery of darker motifs in a quirky and upbeat fashion. Though Connor’s primarily works in color, he is also skilled at crafting all black pieces as well.
For those living close to northern New Jersey, or residents of NYC, Tom Connors is an easy choice for traditional inspired bright and punchy pieces.
Mike Ski: True Hand Society, Philadelphia, PA
If you’re seeking a unique tattooing experience and live near the Philadelphia area, you should seriously consider checking out Mike Ski!
Mike is an incredibly talented and experienced artist who can easily make any vision come to life, no matter how quirky or unorthodox. Looking for a killer pizza phonograph tattoo, or a Philly pretzel with mustard? Mike Ski brings these fun and light-hearted designs to fruition through his elegant drawings and skillful mastery of tattooing.
Though Mike primarily works in the realm of Traditional tattooing, utilizing bright colors and bold line work, he also creates gorgeous all-black pieces as well. So if you’re more interested in a grim reaper holding a cocktail, or an array of stunning crows, Mike can easily translate your vision into a remarkable and clean black tattoo.
A man of many talents and trades, Mike also works as a graphic designer, creating many of the ultra-cool logos, and design aesthetics for local Philly businesses, like the new Queen’s Village eatery, Crybaby Pasta. Mike is also the owner and founder of True Hand Society, a tattoo studio and design house that lives within the walls of a remodeled Philadelphia church. Instead of working with flash images, Mike prefers to create custom pieces for each of his clients, tailoring each piece to reflect the wearer’s individual style and vision.
Bert Krak: Smith Street Tattoo Parlour, Brooklyn, NY
Bert Krak takes Traditional tattooing to another level, through his fierce designs elements and timeless aesthetic.
Founder and owner of the renowned Brooklyn hot spot, Smith Street Tattoo Parlour, Bert has been a staple in Traditional tattooing for quite some time. Using bold lines and vibrant colors to create his designs, any piece from Bert is sure to draw attention and inspire awe. Whether you’re looking for a classic American tattoo like an eagle, bulldog, or an unapologetically badass snake or skull, Bert is able to create saturated and clean pieces reminiscent of tattooing’s early introduction to America.
When you enter Smith Street Tattoo Parlour, there is a wide array of stunning flash pieces to choose from, so if you’re not really sure what you want, the walls of Smith Street are rich with tattoo inspiration. Dubbed “Brooklyn’s Finest”, Smith Street and Bert have created a new precedent for traditional artists, crafting a successful line of clothing inspired by tattoo imagery and Brooklyn street fashion, and even featuring collaborations with brands like RVCA.
By Bert Krak
Mike Adams: Homestead Tattoo, Frederick, MD
For those who don’t prefer color pieces, or who may be attracted to the darker, often occult-inspired imagery of Blackwork, Mike Adams is easily one of the most talented artists working within this style on the east coast.
Adams primarily works out of a private studio in Maryland, beautifully curated to be reminiscent of the elements he works with like nature, the occult, and concepts of life and death. If you are drawn to mythology, spirituality, or just love arcane imagery, Mike Adams delivers stunningly beautiful black tattoos through his masterful stippling and understated elegance.
Mike is also able to craft highly skilled portrait pieces, creating timeless and classy renderings of famous busts, hauntingly beautiful angels and goddesses, and gorgeous recreations of religious iconography in his unmistakably poignant and dark style. While Mike creates mostly custom pieces, he also has flash available for those seeking inspiration.
Paul Booth: Last Rites Tattoo Theatre, Manhattan, NY
Renowned tattooer, Paul Booth, is well-known for his terrifying yet beautiful images of dark surrealism. A perfect artist for those possessing a special affinity for horror films, monsters, demons, and nightmare-inducing motifs, Booth is able to bring these concepts to life with a level of skill that makes the art leap off the skin, both feeling uncomfortably real and incredibly cool.
Based in Manhattan, Paul is the founder and owner of the famed Last Rites Tattoo Theatre, a New York City studio revered for its immersive black and grey realism pieces, taking inspiration from horror films, religious iconography, aliens, science-fiction, and focusing on concepts like death, morbidity, and the transgression of societal boundaries. Though Paul creates tattoos of all sizes, he is well-known for his detailed and expansive back pieces, so if you’re searching for an artist whose comfortable working with large canvases, Paul Booth is a superb east coast tattooer capable of turning any space into an otherworldly work of art.
Aside from Paul’s notoriety within the tattoo community, he has also made a name for himself as a fine artist, opening Last Rites Gallery, a space that features contemporary surrealism and macabre art. For more information, check out our interview with him: Interview with Tattoo Artist Paul Booth.
Noelle Longhaul (AKA Laughing Loone): Western MA
Laughing Loone is truly a pioneer in the realm of tattooing, creating ritualistically-infused Stick and Poke Blackwork designs that both mystify and amaze.
As a non-binary trans woman, who lovingly refers to herself as a “skin witch”, Laughing Loone is a bold and necessary advocate for gender equality and inclusion within the realm of tattooing. Highly skilled at creating ethereal and large scale pieces encompassing everything from natural elements, to astrological symbols, her work transcends the bounds of imagination, using mind-blowing stippling and highly creative placements which work to complement the wearer’s body. Laughing Loone traditionally draws all of her designs freehand, seeming to effortlessly create stunning and powerful pieces, rich with meaning and packed with symbolism.
Though the majority of her tattoos are crafted from scratch, Laughing Loone also offers flash pieces as well, often donating proceeds from flash to organizations supporting trans rights. So if you’re looking for a ritualized tattooing experience that works to accent the figure and promote body positivity, head over to Massachusetts to get your one-of-a-kind Laughing Loone blackwork tattoo!
Matt Lambdin: Philadelphia, PA
Author and illustrator of the beloved “Improbable Animals”, Matt Lambdin is an Irezumi style tattoo artist who often works with vividly expressive and unusual animal forms.
Well-respected for his imaginative and ethereal back pieces and bodysuits, Matt is an incredible east coast artist for large scale Japanese designs. If you’re not feeling adventurous enough for a massive tattoo, Matt also skillfully creates smaller pieces as well, crafting intriguing images of everything from tigers donning skulls, to ferocious serpents and colorful crabs.
Not just limited to tattooing, Matt is also a talented fine artist, creating bold and intriguing drawings and paintings.
If you live in the Philadelphia area and love colorful and detailed Irezumi style designs, Matt Lambdin is easily one of the best Japanese east coast artists. While Matt doesn’t work with flash, he is easily able to create stunning custom designs using reference material and ideas provided by clients.
by Matt Lambdin
Robert Ryan: Asbury Park, NJ
If you live in the Garden State and enjoy Ornamental Traditional-style pieces, Robert Ryan is a highly-skilled artist to keep in mind!
Though Robert works with a wide variety of subject matter, he is well-respected for his colorful and bold designs featuring various religious iconography and spiritually-themed elements, spanning everything from depictions of Christ to Hindu gods and goddesses. He also works heavily with motifs associated with Traditional tattooing, like big cats, clowns, and skulls. If color isn’t for you, Robert is also able to create intense and powerful all-black designs as well.
Unlike many of the artists featured on this list, Robert takes walk-in appointments, which means that you do not need to schedule a visit ahead of time for smaller pieces. Whether you’re looking for a full back piece, sleeve, or singular tattoo, Robert is a prime selection when it comes to talented east coast artists.
Virginia Elwood: Saved Tattoo, Brooklyn NY
If you’re searching for a skilled NYC artist who can effortlessly blend an array of styles, Virginia Elwood, co-owner of Brooklyn’s Saved Tattoo, is a superior choice. Working primarily with black and grey portraiture and bold traditional designs, Elwood cites her inspiration as stemming from folk art, traditional Americana, and textiles.
Aside from her successful career in tattooing, Virginia is also an accomplished fine artist, combining traditional tattoo motifs with unique mediums and varied subject matter. Her body of work has been featured in many major publications, such as Vogue, The New York Times, and Marie Claire. With her shop located in the super trendy Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, Saved Tattoo is only a short subway ride away from Manhattan. Immersed in tattoo culture, Virginia’s partner, Stephanie is also a talented NYC tattoo artist. Virginia is versatile in her approach to tattooing, allowing clients to select pre-drawn flash imagery or create their own custom pieces.
Julian Llouve: Brooklyn, NY
If visions of chaos, surrealism, and science fiction resonate with you, you need to check out Brooklyn based tattooer, Julian Llouve! Julian originally started tattooing exclusively in black ink but has since decided to explore vivid and mind-bending pieces, rich in color and reminiscent of a futuristic LSD trip.
Many of his designs seem to explore concepts like fractured identity, the subconscious, and the realm of dreamscapes. This makes Julian the perfect artist for those wishing to possess art which is both experimental yet masterful in nature. If you’re looking to get the kind of tattoo that could easily translate to fine art or a piece that you’ll never see upon another person’s skin, Julian is the east coast artist for you.
When asked how he creates these psychedelic and otherworldly tattoos, Julian states that he gains his inspiration from non-linear films and the world of science-fiction. Outside of tattooing, Julian also has an exclusive line of clothing featuring his dream-like creations, adorned with elements like checkerboard floors and trippy all-seeing eyes.
Julian currently works out of a private studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, an area well-known for its creative residents and inventive buildings like the adult-themed playground of Castle Braid. When designing tattoos, Julian creates custom one-of-a-kind pieces for all of his clients, leaving you with a tattoo that is both personal and unique in nature.
Chris Fernandez: Manhattan, NY
If you live in the NYC area and love traditional style tattooing, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many artists as talented and precise as Chris Fernandez. His bold and clean tattoos are fully saturated with color and possess an almost unreal appearance thanks to his carefully detailed approach.
Currently, Chris works alongside irezumi legend, Mike Rubendall at his NYC studio, Kings Avenue, but he also guest spots at other renowned locations, like Philadelphia’s True Hand Society. When he isn’t working with the bold color palette of traditional tattooing, Chris also creates stunning all-black traditional pieces as well. If you’re looking for a clean traditional style tattoo dripping with vivid colors, you should absolutely check out Chris Fernandez! Not sure what you’d like to get? You can always check out Chris’s flash, discuss potential concepts, or bring in reference material.
To get tattooed by Chris you’ll need to have an appointment in place which you can easily make via his Tattoodo profile.
Jackson Epstein: Brooklyn, NY
If you love comic-influenced art, psychedelic sci-fi landscapes, and experimental styles of tattooing, Brooklyn’s Jackson Epstein may be the right east coast tattoo artist for you! Jackson has only recently ventured into the realm of tattooing, getting his start in the community by deciding to experiment with stick and poke style tattoos. After moving to New York City to attend SVA for illustration, Jackson decided to take his art form to another medium, selecting the stick and poke style due to its relative ease of learning in comparison to electric tattooing.
Possessing no formal apprenticeship or training, Jackson took his love of dilapidated structures and alien landscapes to the skin, tattooing first on himself and then venturing out to work upon other people’s skin. In just a short amount of time, his designs have sparked a great deal of interest and awe, providing him with the ability to work in tattooing full time.
Jackson derives his inspiration from artistic forms outside of tattooing, like illustrations and comic books. Jackson feels that each piece he creates is an intimate experience shared between himself and the client, providing them with a piece of art that adds to his collection of nonterrestrial artifacts. Jackson mainly works in black ink, but also occasionally creates pieces using color as well.