Charlotte Ink Masters: Tattoo Artists & Shops
Artists around the Queen City specialize in various styles and expertise, giving those with the dream of being tattooed no short supply of talented artists to choose from. No matter your style, here is our guide to Charlotte’s tattoo scene and where you, too, could get some work done.
by Liz Logan
Tattoo Me Charlotte
Highlighted Artist: Stacy Smith
Stacy Smith with Tattoo Me Charlotte has her own style, one she has cultivated on her own. “I am a mix of boho, colorful, surrealistic,” Smith says of her work. Though she specializes in color and geometrical designs, she brings on artists who offer a wide variety of styles—neo-traditional, fine lines, black work, water color and black and gray realism—with her biggest goal being to have things for everyone. “I definitely loved Lisa Frank as a kid and want to put it on everything,” Smith says of her bright colorful designs. “People will say ‘Do whatever you want’ and those are some of my favorite designs I’ve done.” Smith’s clients go through an approval process, making sure designs fit Smith’s forte.
Haylo Healing Arts
Highlighted Artist: Hayley Moran
Hayley Moran with Haylo Healing Arts is a self-described abstract artist, combining realism and illustration to translate the vision of the client. Moran’s well-rounded approach allows her not to be limited to one specific style but to be more transient to fit individual needs. Moran’s all-female studio focuses on the interpersonal, bringing together depth and story and, according to Moran, “that’s why people come to the studio.” Beyond tattoos, Haylo Healing Arts hosts yoga and meditation, as well as selling vintage clothing. Moran considers this a “haven” and a “sacred space,” somewhere her clients come for a full connection of healing and inspiration.
Made to Last
Highlighted Artist: Jeremy Sloo
Made To Last Tattoo is located in Uptown Charlotte in the historic 1892 Bagley-Mullen House. Jeremy Sloo is one of eight artists who take up residence here. When it comes to his artistic approach, Sloo leans toward the neo-traditional style. Typically, clients will have an idea of what they are looking for and through meeting and consultation, Sloo puts his own spin on it. He finds his niche in bright and floral pieces, with a strong leaning toward nature and science. His vibrant, eclectic and vivid style fit well in a shop that prides itself on creative community engagement, like their Still Not Asking For It flash-tattoo fundraiser for sexual assault survivors.
Pretty N Ink
Highlighted Artist: Dutchess
Located in the NC Music Factory, Pretty N Ink is a shop owned by North Carolina native Crystana ‘Dutchess’ Lattimore. Dutchess realized her love for art early on and over time evolved into a well-known tattoo artist during her time in NYC. After her stint on “Black Ink” on VH1, Dutchess moved to Charlotte to open her tattoo boutique. Dutchess’ style volleys between traditional and realism.
510 Expert Tattoo
Highlighted Artist: Jenn Small
Jenn Small with 510 Expert Tattoo is well known for her folk-art and storybook-inspired work. With bright colors, florals and “pretty things,” Small says her roots in the basics of traditional tattooing (like “bold will hold”) has helped her evolve slowly into the bright, tonal in the natural progression of her style. Clients bring Small a myriad of information on what they are looking for in a tattoo and she personalizes it, making it specific to the client, telling their stories in an idyllic and bright way. Small enjoys creating animal portraits and miniature landscapes and house tattoos, paying homage to her storybook style. While Small’s work is distinct, she says, “It’s kind of been like a happy little accident finding what I like to do.”
Charlotte Tattoo Company
Highlighted Artist: Billy Harris
Charlotte Tattoo Company is located in the heart of Charlotte’s Plaza Midwood neighborhood. Artist Billy Harris works with clients from varying backgrounds and tattoo visions. From florals to traditional, Harris does clean black ink work, with the occasional color design. Harris also does Charlotte-specific tattoos, incorporating different aspects of the Queen City into his work.
Highlighted Artist: Paris Pierides
Paris Pierides established his high-end studio, Paris Tattoos, in 2010 after decades of tattooing in Cyprus. His background as an illustrator allows him to flow between realism and illustrative, landing in the realm of neo-traditional. Pierides has created a laid back, relaxing vibe in his studio. Normally, Pierides himself is booked out two to three months in advance. Paris Tattoos also houses an art gallery where you can see various works of various artists.
Blood Sweat and Tears Tattoo
Highlighted Artist: Alicia Van Curen
Alicia Van Curen tattoos with Blood Sweat and Tears, a tattoo shop opened on Monroe Road in 2008. Van Curen’s work is described as artful and intricate. Between crisp, black line work and bright colorful pieces, Van Curen’s style flows based on client’s vision and the story they want to tell. Deeply detailed geometric pieces and nature scenes fill Van Curen’s portfolio along with playful images, like pieces inspired by Studio Ghibli films.
Fu’s Custom Tattoo
Featured Artist: Travis Lakeman
Tattooing since 2009 at NoDa’s first tattoo shop, Fu's Custom Tattoo, Travis Lakeman enjoys tattooing in a variety of styles. “From soft and pretty organic black and grey designs, to bold and colorful animated characters” Lakeman’s work is intricate, bold and imaginative. Tattooing in the same shop as his apprenticeship, Lakeman is a pillar in the tattoo community, working closely with clients to find a design that is perfect for them while incorporating a bit of his own artistic style in each piece.
Coast to Coast Tattoo
Highlighted Artist: Mikey Holmes
Located in Optimist Park’s small business incubator, Area 15, Coast to Coast Tattoo specializes in traditional tattooing. Mikey Holmes’ portfolio focuses on reds, yellows, blacks and blue/greens, with traditional designs like snakes, scorpions and the human form. Thick lines and naval themes ground Holmes in his tell-tale style his clients come to rely on.