Roll Call: Dynamic, Local Tattoo Artists

Satisfy that nagging craving for (more) ink at one of these eclectic tattoo parlors.

Not having a tattoo in Seattle is like living in Los Angeles without sunglasses. The problem is, tattoo shops are as pervasive as Starbucks — but the quality is not as consistent. Whether you prefer the hard-edged scene or a more private, relaxed experience (or somewhere in between), these local shops provide more than just amazing body art.

Two Birds Tattoo

If there were such a thing as tattoo soul mates, Ruby Santiago and Suzy Todd would be just that. In February of 2010, these like-minded women opened up Two Birds Tattoo — and have been a success ever since. Santiago and Todd realized they shared the same goal while studying under Vyvyn Lazonga, a world renowned tattoo artist who got her start in the early 70’s, and currently has a shop in Pike Place. “[We wanted to] have a boutique type shop,” said Santiago, “where you can walk in and not be treated poorly because you don’t fit a certain profile of someone who would be getting tattooed.”

The shop, located in the Greenwood neighborhood, matches its owners’ shared philosophy. “[Two Birds is] a friendly neighborhood shop with a kind of a vintage-ey, rustic feel,” Santiago said, adding that, “really good quality work comes out of this shop.” At first glance, one may be surprised that it’s a tattoo shop; the soft colors and refurbished fixtures set a mood of comfort and tranquility.

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One of the first things customers notice is the amazing art work displayed in the shop’s foyer. Both Santiago and Todd are amazing painters, as well as big supporters of the local art scene. They showcase a new artist and their work each month — usually one that participates in Greenwood’s monthly Art Up. Most of this work is available for purchase.

Two Birds charges a minimum of $60. For anything above, that the price varies from $100-150/hour, depending on the size, location, and difficulty of the design. Appointments are required for large pieces, but they welcome walk-ins. Including Santiago and Todd, there are currently four working artists at the shop.

 7408 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle |  (206) 297-6005

Sunken Ship Tattoo and Piercing Parlour

The story of Sunken Ship is a fairytale made in pin-up, tattoo heaven. Husband-and-wife owners, Matt and Heidi Sawdon (the latter more commonly known as Hot Rod Heidi) are high school sweethearts that have been married for 18 years. Formerly a construction worker and a barista, respectively, Matt and Heidi settled on the business of tattoos and vintage clothing years ago.

Although Sunken Ship has an edgy appearance, the crew strives to create a rewarding experience for all customers. “I want to say it’s like the old school tattoo shops,” Heidi said. “It is and it isn’t — you kind of want to feel some danger, but you don’t want to be ignored for 20 minutes.” In addition to Matt, Sunken Ships features six other talented artists — five of whom are from out of state. Guest artists also appear occasionally; “[Guest artists] help the guys get a different vibe,” Heidi claims.

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Matt’s tattoos gravitate toward an old-school, nautical style, while Heidi’s vintage clothes are reminiscent of the pin-up era. Keeping with their classic theme, both Sawdons drive vintage Ford automobiles to work. If you see a 1953 Meteor, 1960 Pickup or 1950 Shoebox parked outside Sunken Ship, you know the owners are busy at work and your tattoo is sure to be in good hands.

Sunken Ship recommends appointments for larger pieces, but welcomes walk-ins. They have a $40 minimum and an hourly rate of $120, though prices vary on size, color, location, and level of difficulty.

3715 Broadway, Everett  |  (425) 303-3344

Damask Tattoo

Discreetly located in upper Queen Anne, Damask Tattoo is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered — but the shop’s obscure placement was intentional, according to its owner, Christy Brooker. “We wanted something more private.” said Brooker. “When you walk in here, no one knows you’re going to get a tattoo, and our clients really like that.”

Damask means “fancy” or “decorated” in Arabic, and Brooker’s shop — adorned with gorgeous artwork, Victorian antiques and sharp color schemes — is just that. To set the mood for clientele, the staff is happy to provide some tea and conversation. Brooker also plays soft music and broadcasts her live puppy-cam to help customers relax.

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All tattoos provided by Damask are organic. The artists use a vegan brand of ink; the result is just as attractive — and permanent — as non-organic tattoos. The shop also sells eco-friendly after-care products that allow designs to heal and maintain their beautiful appearance.

One of Brooker’s specialties is cosmetic tattoos — a safe, effective way to perpetually enhance one’s appearance that has become popular with women in recent years. The procedure shortens daily routines and, in the case of Brooker’s older clients, prevents frustration caused by shaky hands. “[I love] when people look in the mirror and light up,” Brooker said.

The three artists at Damask are available by appointment only. The minimum price for tattoos is $100, with an hourly rate of $140-150; cosmetic tattoos are priced $250-650.

2206 Queen Anne Ave., Seattle  |  (206) 257-0051