With more than 30 tattoo shops to chose from in Calgary, finding the right artist to carve ink into your flesh can be an increasingly intimidating proposition. Deciding that you want to look at your ex-girlfriend’s name scrawled across your chest for the rest of your life is your decision; still, the letters need not be crooked. While no doubt there is some hidden tattooist talent in Calgary, the following established studios have a solid rep for getting the job done right.
Smilin’ Buddha Tattoo
Paul Jeffries opened this small parlor in 1978 and spent the next three decades building an international reputation for Smilin’ Buddha unparalleled by any other tattoo shop in Alberta. Buddha’s team of artists continues to do award-winning work and keep it old school with walk-ins still welcomed on Saturdays. Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff is a loyal client of Buddha artist Stacie-Rae Weir and other Calgary-based athletes and celebrities can often be seen sporting ink from the little tattoo house in Marda Loop with the legendary name. 2409 33 Ave. SW., 403-242-5922.
Deadly Tattoos Inc.
James Tex spent close to a decade working at various Calgary shops (including the aforementioned Smilin’ Buddha) before starting his own body ink boutique with four other well-known artists a few years back. The light-hearted vibe at the southwest shop — the Deadly crew is known to slap on luchador wrestling masks and goof around from time to time — combined with its intense dedication to doing vibrantly-coloured custom work makes Deadly a favourite for local tattoo enthusiasts. 358 58 Ave SW., 403-264-3091.
Eternal Image Tattoo
A small shop with a big heart; Eternal Image is a great place to go for portrait work and flash. The shop currently has three full-time artists who, in addition to doing amazing tattoo work, volunteer their tattoo and painting skills to many Calgary charities and non-profit art collectives. 1209 10 Ave. SE, 403-228-3958.
Bushido Tattoo Studio
Owner Doug Fink operates arguably the largest tattoo parlor in Calgary with Bushido, and has six full-time artists (plus himself) on staff, capable of cutting tats in any style you can imagine. With a fixed rate of $150 an hour for all artists at Bushido, choosing is as simple as asking the front desk: “Who do you think could do this?” It’s worth mentioning Bushido has four female artists working or apprenticing at the studio, offering a more modern representation of the trade’s demographics. 218 17 Ave. SE.
Immaculate Concept, 520 17 Ave. SW
Strange World Tattoo, Crowchild Square #103 5403 Crowchild Tr. NW
Blackbird Electric Custom Tattoo, #5 1330 15 Ave SW.
Image courtesy of limonada.