CookiesThis site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. Read our privacy policy to learn more

Out of this World Body Art at Red Rocket Tattoo

Out of this World Body Art at Red Rocket Tattoo
NYC4 min Read

In this edition of our Tattoodo Guide to NYC Shops, we blast off to one of the most exhilarating tattoo shops in the city.

The last thing you’d expect to find in the commercial hellscape that is West 36th street in Midtown Manhattan is one of NYC’s most vibrant and friendly tattoo shops, but if you look carefully, you’ll find the door to Red Rocket Tattoo, nestled between a burger joint and a steak house. Once you pass through this narrow aperture, you’ll make your way up to the third floor, passing by walls brimming with original flash art meant to put you in the mood to get a new tattoo. Eventually you’ll find yourself standing before the parlors’ expansive and lively floor, watching a tight-knit team of tattooists crank out high quality body art.

The work that Red Rocket’s staff produces is all top-notch and stylistically diverse. You can get everything from a large-scale piece of Japanese body art to a banger of your favorite Star Wars character, and the best part is that you’ll likely have a lot of laughs as well as some great conversation while you’re at it. “We try our hardest to be accessible to all styles, all cultures, and all peoples,” says Adam Guy Hays. “Our goal is not to be a snooty NYC tattoo shop. We like to treat our customers with a little bit of southern hospitality.”

The steps leading to Red Rocket Tattoo (IG—redrockettattoo). #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo

The steps leading to Red Rocket Tattoo (IG—redrockettattoo). #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo

Shop Overview

The Red Rocket Tattoo team getting down on a busy day (IG—redrockettattoo). #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo

The Red Rocket Tattoo team getting down on a busy day (IG—redrockettattoo). #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo


Mike Bellamy, the owner of Red Rocket Tattoo (IG— #MikeBellamy #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo
A massive hannya mask with snakes and skulls surrounding it by Mike Bellamy (IG— #hannya #Japanese #MikeBellamy #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo #snake

Adam Guy Hays is one of the shop’s most versatile artists. He can do work in pretty much every style, but neo-traditional is probably his strongest suit. However, he is most well-known for his Star Wars inspired body art. Throughout his career, Hays has redefined what to expect out of a “pop culture” tattoo. He doesn’t just tattoo Darth Vader, he tattoos Vader in a Pope hat.

Adam Guy Hays and his wife (IG—adamguyhays). #AdamGuyHays #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo
A portrait of Princess Leia by Adam Guy Hays (IG—adamguyhays). #AdamGuyHays #NYCtattooshops #PrincessLeia #RedRocketTattoo

Another one of the shop's resident neo-traditional tattooists is Erica Flannes. Her work is both dainty and delightful. If you're after a beautiful tattoo that's full of mirth and wonderment, then she's definitely the artist for you.

The beautiful Erica Flannes (IG—ericaflannes). #EricaFlannes #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo
One of Erica Flannes' neo-traditional ladies (IG—ericaflannes). #EricaFlannes #ladyartist #neotraditional #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo

If you’re a fan of tried and true traditional, then you’ll likely find Thomas Leyh’s work compelling. He makes bold and bright body art that stays true to its roots while being a bit wild as well. His bangers are some of the best around, especially when they're on the weirder side of things.

Thomas Leyh showing off his eye tattoo (IG—thomasleyh). #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo #ThomasLeyh
A dark pinup chained to a skull by Thomas Leyh (IG—thomasleyh). #NYCtattooshops #pinup #RedRocketTattoo #skull #ThomasLeyh #traditional

Completing the total stylistic package at Red Rocket, Rocky Burley is the shop's black and grey realism extraordinaire. He creates strikingly lifelike illustrations of all sorts of imagery. Basically if it exists, he can render it picture-perfectly. His portraiture is particularly refined.

Rocky Burley handing out with his younger brother (IG—rockyburley). #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo #RockyBurley
A clipper on the high seas by Rocky Burley (IG—rockyburley). #blackandgrey #clipper #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo #RockyBurley

There are several other quality tattooists who hang their hats at Red Rocket, including Max Shoberg, Derek Martinez, Shannon Ritchie, Greg Rosenfeld, Joshua Nonas, and Chris Murphy, all of whom profess a wide variety of styles, making it one of the most diverse shops in all of NYC.

An awesome black and grey lighthouse by Max Shoberg (IG—maxwellshoberg). #blackandgrey #lighthouse #MaxShoberg #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo
A pink flamingo in front of a seascape by Greg Rosenfeld (IG—gregthehypeman). #flamingo #GregRosenfeld #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo #traditional
A badass coverup featuring an astronaut by Joshua Nonas (IG—__xxander_). #astronaut #JoshuaNonas #NYCtattooshops #RedRocketTattoo

The Nitty Gritty Details

Ross Howerton
Written byRoss Howerton

BA in Literary Studies from The New School. MFA in Creative Writing from NMSU. Staff Writer for Tattoodo. I love art, books, movies, music, and video games. Hit me up on Twitter @Powertonium