Whether you’re waiting for your upcoming ink therapy appointment or looking for your first one, get inspired by these Michigan-made tattoo artists.
MICHIGAN—With highly anticipated events like the Motor City Tattoo Expo, it’s clear that Michiganders love their tattoos. If you’re one of them, you’re not alone.
According to Statista, about 35% of Americans have at least one tattoo. And modern tattooing goes beyond the trends you might be thinking of. Permanent makeup, scar cover-ups, and even nipple tattooing after mastectomies are all segments of this rapidly growing business sector. You might even say there’s a ‘buzz’ about all things tattoo.
If you’re ready to start looking for inspiration for your next ink session, check out these talented Michiganders and their shops.
Northern Michigan and Upper Peninsula
Clean Lines Tattoo Company (Manistee)
336 River St, Manistee, MI 49660
Up-and-coming shop Clean Lines Tattoo Company fills a niche role in the tattoo world—an environment for recovery. The owners and artists are all in substance abuse recovery, and Clean Lines is specifically designed to be free of sobriety stigma.
Paragon Ink (Gaylord)
111 E Main St, Gaylord, MI 49735
Paragon Ink is an anomaly in the tattoo world: a family-friendly ink shop. They’re not tattooing children, but they understand the everyday demands of parenting and allow children to relax while parents get their ink work. The result is a boutique experience accessible to people from all walks of life.
Sacred Tattoo Studio (Marquette)
329 W Washington St B, Marquette, MI 49855
Sacred Tattoo is run by Dan Pemble, a tattoo artist with a top reputation in Michigan’s U.P. He and four other artists can accommodate almost any design request. Check out their Instagram pics for inspiration.
Drunken Monkey Tattoo (Saginaw)
312 S Hamilton St, Saginaw, MI 48602
In 2020, Drunken Monkey Tattoo owner Raquel Centellas made it to the finals for a coveted spot as a cover girl for Inked Magazine. Representing tattooed Michiganders everywhere, Centellas brought wit and art together to impress the judges. Like its owner, the Drunken Monkey Tattoo shop is one of Michigan’s best..
Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery (Lansing)
615 E Michigan Ave, Lansing, MI 48912
Eclectic Art Tattoo Gallery owner Sean Peters is definitely part of the movement to keep Lansing weird. He and his partner Teisha King are the founders of The Dark Art of Michigan, a performance art group that hosts charity events, among other entertainment acts. At Eclectic Art, Peters and three other artists churn out creative designs for the Lansing area.
Splash of Color Tattoo and Piercing Studio (East Lansing)
515 E Grand River Ave F, East Lansing, MI 48823
Splash of Color is infamous among Michigan State University students, having provided tattoos and piercings to the MSU community since 1989. They pride themselves on having high standards for cleanliness and safety, and they also provide tattoo removal services.
The Shop (Fowlerville)
141 S Grand Ave, Fowlerville, MI 48836
The Shop is a veteran-owned business, with owner Darl Papple offering discounts on tattoos for fellow vets. The Shop is always buzzing, with six in-house tattoo artists and apprentices, and three guest artists. That’s because Darl employs all artists as independent contractors, letting each individual artist run their own effective business.
GreenLion Studios (Grand Rapids)
1444 Lake Dr SE #2, Grand Rapids, MI 49506
GreenLion Studios in Grand Rapids’ Eastown is an artist collective owned by well-known tattoo artist and tattoo machine builder BJ Johnson. Two other tattoo artists join him in this private space. The shop is highly rated by Grand Rapids locals.
Anarchy Ink Tattoos (Grand Rapids)
6568 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49548
Anarchy Ink is one of the top facilities in Grand Rapids. They claim to have Michigan’s best watercolor artist as well as a few other great artists on staff. Anarchy Ink was also one of the first tattoo shops in Michigan to pass the “Body Art Facility License” inspection from the State Health Department, so they’re on the ball when it comes to safety.
Balm Tattooing (Grand Rapids)
1054 Fulton St W #1, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Balm Tattooing is an up-and-coming tattoo shop owned and operated by women. Balm seeks to create an inclusive safe space for everyone. Balm has three female artists in house and they have a special community fund for those with financial need and survivors of trauma.
Area 51 Tattoo (Muskegon)
175 W Clay Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440
Voted the coolest tattoo shop in the Muskegon area in an MLive poll, Area 51 Tattoo is Downtown Muskegon’s oldest tattoo shop. Four tattoo artists call Area 51 their home, and all of them are more than willing to get weird with your designs.
Custom Creations Tattoo and Art Studio (Jackson)
1400 N West Ave Suite B, Jackson, MI 49202
This steampunk-inspired newer shop in Jackson is owned by Kim Shady. The shop’s artist portfolios include super cool anime character replicas. The goal of Custom Creations is to get clients to tell their story through ink. Looking at their portfolio, you’ll see they’ve struck just the right nerve, so to speak, with their clientele.
Lucky Monkey Tattoo Parlor (Ann Arbor)
3024 Packard St, Ann Arbor, MI 48108
This University of Michigan tattoo institution has been voted the Best Tattoo Shop in Washtenaw County by Current Magazine’s reader poll for over 15 years. Lucky Monkey’s fully stocked artist lineup has serviced not just U of M students, but high profile clients such as Darren McCarty from the Detroit Red Wings.
Heirloom Arts (Kalamazoo)
1919 Stearns Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008
With a focus on compassion, all six artists at Heirloom Arts are either women or non-binary. Heirloom Arts is specifically an LGBTQ+ safe space, with several staff members counting themselves among this population.
Tattoos by Raven (Otsego)
208 W Allegan St, Otsego, MI 49078
You talk and Raven draws. That’s the simple winning formula for designing tattoos at Tattoos by Raven. She’s been working at this since 1990, and it’s safe to say she’s a pro. For a highly personalized design in the Kalamazoo area, make sure to get a tattoo by Raven.
Detroit Metro Area
Mended Art (Wyandotte)
966 Ford Ave, Wyandotte, MI 48192
Cee Jay “Inky” Jones appeared in the second season of “Ink Master” and wrote the book “Ink on My Face and Other Tattoo Stories.” She’s still operating Downriver, but at Mended Art she’s come into her own as a “cover-up artist,” providing not just tattoos, but permanent makeup, cover-ups on scars, and post-mastectomy nipples. The “derma salon” is a different atmosphere than most tattoo parlors, providing a more upscale experience.
Signature Tattoo (Ferndale)
230 W Nine Mile Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220
Co-owned by long standing tattoo artists Dan Rick and Mark Heggie, Signature Tattoo is one of the Detroit area’s most well-known shops. A total of six artists call Signature Tattoo home, with over 150 years of combined experience. This Ferndale shop is the second location for Rick and Heggie, who also co-own Big Top Tattoo in Utica.
Dharma Tattoo Collective (Ferndale)
3325 Hilton Rd, Ferndale, MI 48220
New Ferndale shop Dharma Tattoo Collective is the new home of well-known Detroit area tattoo artist Nathan Wilson. He joins five other artists at the Dharma Tattoo Collective. Wilson’s portfolio is frequently cited as a tattoo artist to watch on Instagram.
My Little Needle Tattoos (Plymouth)
638 Starkweather St, Plymouth, MI 48170
My Little Needle is a woman-owned tattoo shop. Latricia Horstman is the owner and one of the artists. She comes from a family of artists and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from MSU, meaning the shop takes art seriously. Her boutique shop has an intimate feel but also offers eight different artists to help make your dream design a reality.
Harlequin Tattoo (Hamtramck)
10021 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck, MI 48212
Harlequin Tattoo is owned and operated by Dawn Cooke, who hails from Ypsilanti’s Depot Town Tattoo. Harlequin’s designs come from the talented fingers of Cooke or three other artists.
Detroit Ink Spot (Detroit)
19845 West McNichols Road, Detroit, MI 48219
With strict cleaning protocols and a laid-back shop atmosphere, Detroit Ink Spot offers five tattoo artists willing to give you whatever design your heart desires in the Motor City. The artists are knowledgeable about cover-ups and redesigns.
Union 3 Tattoo (Detroit)
1442 Michigan Ave, Detroit, MI 48216
They might be a newer addition to Detroit’s Corktown, but they’re keeping it old school and traditional. The four-artist team includes Matt Paw, whose colorful portfolio is among trending Detroit Metro artists.
Lunar Leaf Tattoo Studio (Woodhaven)
23776 West Rd, Brownstown Charter Twp, MI 48183
If you like things on the dark side, you’re in good company with Lunar Leaf Tattoo Studio co-owner Elaine Nerowski. Nerowski specializes in portrait pieces of gothic and horror figures, such as Edward Scissorhands and Gomez and Morticia Addams. But Lunar Leaf has a total of six great artists, so be sure to check them all out!