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The Best Tattoo Shops in San Francisco

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Tattoos top the hierarchy of important beauty decisions, so we take our map of the best tattoo shops in San Francisco pretty seriously. We've been chasing down folks with impressive ink to ask for their artists' info, and the results are mapped below, (roughly north to south). But don't think that you can just stroll into one of these spots and walk out with a Mom heart the same day; it might be weeks or months before you get an appointment. (The wait is almost more painful than the tattoo itself, right?)

Have a favorite to add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.

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Ed Hardys Tattoo City

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Before that awful Christian Audigier fashion line, Ed Hardy was best known as a tattoo artist. Though he's retired now, his son Doug has carried on the family tradition at the landmark shop. (And Ed still drops by regularly.)

Moth and Dagger Tattoo Studio

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Mario Delgado, Justin Davis and Joe Kelly run this downtown studio, where they've built a reputation as easy-going artists who do killer shading and detail work. Check out their website for example of their latest designs.

Let It Bleed Tattoo

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Though this is a small, custom-based shop, they do accept walk-ins if an artist is available. All the artists get rave reviews, but clients are especially enamored with Taler Nicols.

Idle Hand Tattoo

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BellJar owner Sasha Darling raves that Idle Hand owner Holly Ellis is "the raddest, bad-ass lady I know." (High praise, indeed!) Walk-ins are accepted at this Haight Street shop, but appointments are preferred. Before you show up, hit the ATM; it's cash only.

Rose Gold's

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Fiat Lux owner Marie McCarthy also owns this pretty Haight-Ashbury tattoo parlor, where artists like Adam Sky and Ben Matthews work some serious magic. The shop also has lots of jewelry options if you're interested in piercing.

BlackHeart Tattoo

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This Mission shop promises (and delivers) "bad-ass tattooery." Founded in 2004, the six artists at this shop have over 60 years of combined tattoo experience. Whoa.

Black and Blue Tattoo

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This female-owned, gender-inclusive tattoo studio has been around for almost 20 years. While the shop will take walk-ins, it's preferable to select an artist from the website and contact your artist directly to schedule an appointment.

Skull & Sword

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Both Grime and Henry Lewis come highly recommended. (Complex named Grime one of its tattoo artists you need to know and a tipster tells us Henry is "aces".) But all of the artists at this Bernal Heights studio do rad work; good luck deciding who to see. It may take a while to get an appointment, but it will be worth the wait.

Seventh Son Tattoo

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When we initially ran this map, commenters piped up with their love for Seventh Son, and we totally see why. When you're ready to commit to a sleeve or a full-body design, this team is the best.

2Spirit Tattoo

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Roxx, the founder and owner of 2Spirit, has an international following for her blackwork. With a career that spans three decades and six countries, she's one of the best in the biz for graphic or tribal designs. But you don't have to take our word for it. GQ just described her as "the woman at the forefront of the ink world’s coolest artistic movement".

Tuesday Tattoo

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When it's time to branch out beyond SoMa and the Mission, visit Tuesday Tattoo. Tattoo artist Jesse Tuesday —along with partners in crime Hannah Wednesday and Candi Kinyōbi (that translates to "Friday")— have been happily inking locals at this Outer Sunset studio for years. This shop earns kudos for both the laid-back vibe and the incredibly detailed work.

Shannon Archuleta Tattoo

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We literally stopped a woman at a fashion show to find out where she got the gorgeous flowers covering her back, and she gladly shared her secret: Shannon Archuleta. If you're looking for stunning florals or intricate patterns, make an appointment to get on her schedule.

Mermaids Tattoo Studio

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Though he splits his time between San Francisco and Portland, we've received multiple tips that Sam McWilliams is one of the best for nature-inspired work. Catch him while he's in town at Mermaids in the Mission.

Ed Hardys Tattoo City

Before that awful Christian Audigier fashion line, Ed Hardy was best known as a tattoo artist. Though he's retired now, his son Doug has carried on the family tradition at the landmark shop. (And Ed still drops by regularly.)

Moth and Dagger Tattoo Studio

Mario Delgado, Justin Davis and Joe Kelly run this downtown studio, where they've built a reputation as easy-going artists who do killer shading and detail work. Check out their website for example of their latest designs.

Let It Bleed Tattoo

Though this is a small, custom-based shop, they do accept walk-ins if an artist is available. All the artists get rave reviews, but clients are especially enamored with Taler Nicols.

Idle Hand Tattoo

BellJar owner Sasha Darling raves that Idle Hand owner Holly Ellis is "the raddest, bad-ass lady I know." (High praise, indeed!) Walk-ins are accepted at this Haight Street shop, but appointments are preferred. Before you show up, hit the ATM; it's cash only.

Rose Gold's

Fiat Lux owner Marie McCarthy also owns this pretty Haight-Ashbury tattoo parlor, where artists like Adam Sky and Ben Matthews work some serious magic. The shop also has lots of jewelry options if you're interested in piercing.

BlackHeart Tattoo

This Mission shop promises (and delivers) "bad-ass tattooery." Founded in 2004, the six artists at this shop have over 60 years of combined tattoo experience. Whoa.

Black and Blue Tattoo

This female-owned, gender-inclusive tattoo studio has been around for almost 20 years. While the shop will take walk-ins, it's preferable to select an artist from the website and contact your artist directly to schedule an appointment.

Skull & Sword

Both Grime and Henry Lewis come highly recommended. (Complex named Grime one of its tattoo artists you need to know and a tipster tells us Henry is "aces".) But all of the artists at this Bernal Heights studio do rad work; good luck deciding who to see. It may take a while to get an appointment, but it will be worth the wait.

Seventh Son Tattoo

When we initially ran this map, commenters piped up with their love for Seventh Son, and we totally see why. When you're ready to commit to a sleeve or a full-body design, this team is the best.

2Spirit Tattoo

Roxx, the founder and owner of 2Spirit, has an international following for her blackwork. With a career that spans three decades and six countries, she's one of the best in the biz for graphic or tribal designs. But you don't have to take our word for it. GQ just described her as "the woman at the forefront of the ink world’s coolest artistic movement".

Tuesday Tattoo

When it's time to branch out beyond SoMa and the Mission, visit Tuesday Tattoo. Tattoo artist Jesse Tuesday —along with partners in crime Hannah Wednesday and Candi Kinyōbi (that translates to "Friday")— have been happily inking locals at this Outer Sunset studio for years. This shop earns kudos for both the laid-back vibe and the incredibly detailed work.

Shannon Archuleta Tattoo

We literally stopped a woman at a fashion show to find out where she got the gorgeous flowers covering her back, and she gladly shared her secret: Shannon Archuleta. If you're looking for stunning florals or intricate patterns, make an appointment to get on her schedule.

Mermaids Tattoo Studio

Though he splits his time between San Francisco and Portland, we've received multiple tips that Sam McWilliams is one of the best for nature-inspired work. Catch him while he's in town at Mermaids in the Mission.