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No other city in the world is more recognized for being the mecca of the arts quite like New York City. It truly is the art capital of the world. This is the place were trends are started and fashion is king. True to form, NYC has also been home to some of the worlds most influential tattoo artists. If you're a collector looking for real artwork in this multilayered metropolis it's easy to miss the greats and instead stumble into one of thousands of mediocre tattoo dives that plague its streets. Here is a short list of the Big Apple's legendary skin artists and the contributions they have made.

Amazingly enough, tattooing has only been legal in the City since 1997. There were tattooists practicing their craft before then but for the most part it was a very underground industry. Anyone practicing in the open ran the very real risk of having all of ones equipment permanently confiscated by New York's Finest the NYPD as well as receive a fat fine as a parting gift. Artie Shaw's son Jonathan Shaw must be first on the list simply for the size of his brass balls. Not because he rocked uber realistic tattoos nah that wasn't Shaw's style. He's style was more right in your face. Literally he was in New York City's face, flagrantly disregarded the City's tattooing band and operated out of his Fun City shop on St. Marks Street in the East Village several years before tattooing was made legal. Besides being a talented artist who has tattooed a string of celebrities it should also be noted that he was the managing editor of International Tattoo Art Magazine, which is one of the finest tattoo rags ever published. He has since sold Fun City and though it may look nicer, it's not the same and is riding on his coattails. He claims to be retired from tattooing and is making his way as a writer.

Speaking of uber realistic tattooing. Well that title can easily be given to Anil Gupta. Yeah, now days it's easy to find hyper realistic tattooists in just about every tattoo magazine out there. But they are all playing catch up to Gupta. Gupta came on the scene hard by blowing the minds of just about everyone, tattooist and collectors alike, with his stamp sized miniatures of classical works of art. When so many tattoos are still trying to prefect the old school sailor style, Gupta ripped the industry a new one by lifting the bar so high that he still makes most professionals look like scratch artists.

Jeremy Garrett a.k.a. NYARTMAN is Gotham's inkslinging superhero. Garrett is a comic artist turned tattooist who's well know for his unique one of a kind comic book influenced tattoos. He is one of those tattooing renegades who helped shape the tattooing scene in Gotham in the early years before it became legal. The day the ban was lifted he opened up his illustration studio, Black Work Studio, to the tattooing world and started offering a very cool alternative to the traditional tattoo parlor experience. He is a bit of a shadowy character who you are more likely to find at comic convention as opposed to a tattoo convention. If you haven't heard of him don't feel bad, amazingly enough, as of yet, he has not sent any of his work to the tattoo magazines for publication. For the past 20 years has relied solely on his reputation and invincible comic book style as his mouth piece. If you want to be tattooed by him you'll need to book an appointment plenty of time in advance. However, if you're just visiting Gotham City and gotta get some spontaneous NYC ink then try one of the highly skilled Inkslinging Superheros at NYARTMAN's GothamTattoos.com.

From superhero to Gotham's number one bad boy, Paul Booth, set up his Last Rites studio in the East Village shortly after the ban was lifted. He is one blight on Gotham that Mayor Giuliani was not capable of getting rid of. Booth is the internationally well established King of the underworld. Nothing says rebellion quite like having a dismembered baby demon in a blinder scrawled across your back. Be prepared to trade your first born because there ain't nothing cheap about Booth's work. If you've ever wanted to experience Hell in all of glorious bloody detail then descend into the pit of despair that is Last Rites and be marked by Booth, Hell's greatest tattooing demon.

No list of NYC's greatest inkslingers could be complete with out John Paras. John Paras was the embodiment of your technical tattooist. He was a mechanic by day and inkslinger by night and strove to understand and prefect every mechanical aspect of tattooing. He was an active member of the New York Tattoo Association and was instrumental in fighting to get tattooing legalized in City. Paras started out tattooing professionally with his longtime friend NYARTMAN and helped establish Black Work Studio as the friendly neighborhood tattoo studio that it is today. He was one of the reason's why GQ named Black Work Studio as “The place where real New Yorkers get tattooed”. Ask John Reardon, the City's best for that ornamental, vintage, old school Americana style that just about every shop in the land is trying to prefect, why he dedicated his book “The Idiot's Guide to Tattooing” to him. Paras was well known in the City's tattooing community but not for his heavy handed old school style, which no laser could remove. No, Paras was well known and loved for his genuine good nature. He's the tattoo industry's first Saint. He brought a professionalism, dedication and kindness to a too often times backstabbing, cutthroat and ego rich industry unlike any other and his influence is still felt. John's life taught that although you may not be the most artistic tattooist, so long as you continually strive to prefect your trade and keep a positive, friendly attitude you too can be recognized as a tattooing legend. Paras passed away in 2006.

Graffiti is New York City first language. Richard Mirando a.k.a. Seen is the City's primary language professor. Richie was bombing NYC subways way before most of the City's current graffiti artist's were born. It was only natural for him to move from making subway trains more beautiful to decorating the walls of humanity in the Bronx. How many high paid tattooists do you know that have retired from the trade because they are so swamped with their fine art that they can't even sketch out a quick design for you no matter how much you offer them... well that's what life is like when you're the Graffiti Godfather. So, stop your whining, if you still want to collect his work then you're in luck. He recently signed on with Opera Gallery (12 locations worldwide), and the Paris location where his work is being featured and can be procured for the cost of a subway car.

Bottom line, if you want to be tattooed by America's most cutting-edge, most influential and most legendary tattooists then New York City is the place to focus your attention. No other city in the world has a glutton of such high caliber talent. Whether it's a tiny sacred heart on your shoulder or a full-body work of art, you can bet your hard earned cash that NYC has got the perfect artist for the job. One important piece of information to keep in mind when seeking out the ideal tattooist for you, is to make sure they are licensed. New York City requires all working tattooists to be licensed, so keep an eye out for it and make sure it's up to date. So do your homework and beware of the bargain tattoo. Good luck and happy inking.


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