Friends who get stabbed together, stay together. What bonds people quite like staring down a needle or a buzzing magic pen that will put permanent ink into your skin? There are scientific terms for both of these, but none of those really matter when you’re faced with your impending doom.
Drama aside, getting a tattoo or piercing, whether it be your first or fifteenth, can be an exciting, terrifying, anxiety-inducing yet rewarding experience.
Do tattoos and piercings hurt? Yes. Is it totally, totally worth it? Also yes! Did an authoritative figure in your life tell you not to get a tattoo? Maybe! But they will get over it. That, or you hide it for the rest of your life.
You don’t need anyone’s permission to express yourself in the way you want to. Just make sure to follow proper aftercare instructions, and follow up with your piercer or tattoo artist if you have any questions or concerns. Tattoos and piercings are cool; infections are not.
Here’s where you can obtain a coveted tattoo or piercing in Berkeley.
Art Underground Tattoo
Location: 2466 Bancroft Way
Art Underground is literally underground. It’s located inside Sather Lane, with a mural emblazoned on the wall down a set of stairs. They specialize in portraits, black and gray, full color, vibrant realism and custom lettering.
Zebra Tattoo & Body Piercing
Location: 2467 Telegraph Ave
Zebra Tattoo & Piercing has reputable piercers, and very reasonable piercing prices (the jewelry is where they get you). The name is a little misleading — the Telegraph location doesn’t offer tattoos. That’s only at Walnut Creek. They offer ear, face, body and oral piercings. Located on Telegraph, you can grab some Sliver or peruse Moe’s Books while you wait, as there will likely be a line. Plan ahead for this one.
Industrial Tattoo and Piercing
Location: 2434 Dwight Way
Industrial Tattoo and Piercing was founded in 1996 and has a variety of piercers and tattoo artists to choose from, all of whom you can check for availability through a calendar or by emailing on their website. Their portfolios are available as well so if you’d like, you can curate the style you want.
War Horse Tattoo
Location: 2599 Telegraph Ave
War Horse has a variety of tattoo artists and styles, including illustrative, black and gray, traditional, Japanese and lettering. You can check out several different artist portfolios on their website to find a style you like. They even have one artist who does cosmetic tattoos!
Philthy Clean Tattoos and Piercings
Location: 2506 Shattuck Ave
Philthy Clean Tattoos and Piercings actually burned down back in 2021, but they rebuilt and now they’re fully back in business. They specialize in cover-ups, photo realism, black and gray, portraits, lettering, tribal, Japanese, traditional and urban tattoos. It’s an urban style shop established back in 2011.
Sacred Rose Tattoo
Location: 1960 San Pablo Ave
Sacred Rose combines healing, spirituality and punk in this woman owned and run tattoo parlor out by the Marina. While it’s farther out than these other options, the 51B will take you straight there, where you may encounter sage burning in the entry-way. They have 13 artists whose work you can check out on their website or Instagram, and they accept both walk-ins and scheduled appointments.