Tattooing is an art form that has spanned centuries, in regions and cultures, all over the globe. In Hawaiian culture tattoos were used as a form of bodily decoration, much like today. However, they were also used to display respect for the spirits, and as an attempt to ascertain good health. In Cambodia, monks are tattooed with symbols of their religious beliefs. In the early 1800s British sailors, influenced by Pacific Islanders’, began to adorn themselves with tattoos representing their lovers, their fellow naval comrades, and their adoration for England. Long before them though, early United Kingdom natives, such as the Celts, branded themselves with tattoos. It is a powerful form of artistic expression, both from the artist and the wearer, which has been around for centuries, and it has evolved dramatically, and there are five tattoo artists today that are reveling in that natural evolution, and adding their unique spins to it.


1. Dave English

The first artist you must familiarize yourself with is Dave English, of Hold It Down Tattoos in Richmond, Virginia. Primarily in black and white, his tattoos rival the artwork of Baroque artists. Skulls, images of stone-like statues with veils that appear to be actually flowing. His lines are clean, his shading immaculate, his subjects surreal, he brings to life demons, legs being chased by arms up ladders, even skeletal scorpions with humanoid skeletal faces. Unparalleled is the first word that comes to mind when you gaze upon his artwork. Check his stuff on Instagram.


photo // Dave English


2. Arielle Coupe

With a style that is unmatched by most in their field, Arielle Coupe is leveling the tattoo world and emerging victoriously with her astonishingly beautiful and surreal artwork. Images of indescribable, otherworldly creatures and creations, are her specialty. Things such as strawberries with faces, cockroaches adorned with humanoid eyes upon their wings, six-eyed beings that have four shadows, if it can be imagined she can create it. Give her a follow on Instagram to check out the work she is doing.


photo // Arielle Coupe


3. Gaël Cleinow

Gaël Cleinow, a currently Berlin-based artist, describing by himself as a ‘visual philosopher,’ is another forerunner of the tattoo scene. Using simplified colors, primarily just black and red, he transforms human skin into spectacular works that leave many other visual artists trembling. He creates everything from scenes of fighting dogs, to ancient Greek style statues, to abstract forms of faces in cosmic ruin, to cherubs playing together. To get a tattoo from him would be to invest in an up-and-coming artist whose unique style cannot be found anywhere else.


photo // Gael Cleinow


4. Mark Cross

Mark Cross, owner of Rose Tattoo Parlour, in Brooklyn, New York challenges intricate and over the top designs, and instead utilizes his immaculate version of a classic, old-school, American style tattoo. Using vibrant color, clean lines, and a fair attention to transforming eagles, wolves, panthers, moon-ladies, you name it, into geometrical, almost mosaic interpretations of old-school style tattoos, similar to the ones worn by bikers and army vets, of the 40s-60s, alike. Cross’s appointments aren’t cheap; however, the money is beyond worth it for a lifetime of incredible artwork on your person.


photo // Mark Cross


5. Christina Gemora

Another Brooklyn resident, Christina Gemora, is taking the tattooing world by storm with her utterly intriguing and absolutely brilliant work. Operating out of Black Square Tattoo parlor, Gemora works primarily in black and white, using shading and intricate line work that would impress any artist from any time period. Her usual works include subjects ranging from skeletal forms, butterflies, barbed wire, flames, snakes, and a font that truly cannot be matched. If you haven’t perused her work by now, do yourself a favor and head over to her Instagram to check it out.


photo // Christina Gemora


Tattoos are a celebrated art form in cultures and areas all around the world, and right now the world is seeing artists create images with tattoos unlike ever before. All fans of art should follow whats happening in the tattoo world, and its as easy as logging onto Instagram or googling the artists and their shops.


top image // White Rose Tattoo Parlour