DC Tattoo Parlors

By Esther Hidalgo, Host Committee Member

Tattoos are forever and, as discussed in the session “Coloring Outside the Lines: Tattoos as Personal Archives”, which was presented at the 2012 SAA Annual Meeting in San Diego, they even possess unique archival value. If you were unable to attend that session, you can access Randall C. Jimerson’s interview with session speakers in  “Coloring Outside the Lines”, Archival Outlook, November/December 2012, p.8.

If you have a memory or experience that you have been “dyeing” to commemorate (bad pun intended), consider visiting a few of the following tattoo parlors, which are conveniently located near the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel.


Embassy Tattoo is located in Adams Morgan at 1762 Columbia Road NW. Don’t be misled by the building’s exterior, or the sketchy (pun intended) stairwell leading up to the shop. Rather, to paraphrase the declaration on their website: let their work speak for itself!  The small, accommodating staff of artists’ talents range from fine-line to abstract to painterly, as well as black and gray shading and popping color-work. The shop also offers body piercing and Tatt2Away tattoo removal services.

Located in the heart of Adams Morgan, you can’t miss Tattoo Paradise, with it’s neon signage and striking blue storefront. The salon walls are lined with tattoo flash, many of which pay homage to vintage traditions of western nautical tattoo art, such as swallows, skulls, anchors, mermaids, and pin-ups. The shop is clean, spacious, and colorful. The desk staff is courteous and patient, despite the influx of clients and tourists that occasionally wander inside. The shop schedules appointments, as well as walk-ins. Full disclosure: The author (rather spontaneously) got her forearm tattooed there, whilst taking a break from studying for the MSLIS Comprehensive Examination.

IMG_1603 (1).jpg

Burger assembly guide? Kabob schematic? Optical camera lens diagram? Endless interpretations!



Globe Electric Tattoo is located on a residential block, a short walk from the Columbia Heights Metro station. The shop was founded by a couple with extensive tattooing experience, and who also work at the legendary Jinx Proof Tattoo in Georgetown, DC. Compared to the decor of many other tattoo shops, the interior is contemporary and elegant, with a nice dose of natural light coming in from the front window. Additionally, unlike many other establishments, the Globe Electric staff work by appointment only. Based on personal experience, the artists are professional, communicative, and have vision. They work with their clients to mutually design bespoke permanent art pieces. Especially worth noting is artist Susan Doyle’s skillful application of color inks on darker skin tones.


Finally, Fatty’s Tattoos & Piercings in Dupont Circle is  home grown franchise,

with sister shops in Silver Spring, MD and the H Street NE, DC. Frequently featured in the Washington City Paper’s annual Best of DC, Fatty’s has made a name for itself. The reception area is clean and open, with hardwood floors and large windows overlooking the hustle and bustle of Connecticut Avenue.  Unlike many other shop, Fatty’s does not display tattoo flash. Rather, as a testament to their commitment to creating custom pieces, the walls display original works by the tattoo artists, including Fatty himself. They accept walk-in consultations, but you will need to make an appointment to get the work done. Fatty’s also offers piercing services and a wide range of natural wood, stone, and quality metal jewelry.


Whether you decide to finally get that heart with “Mom” tattooed on your bicep this year, or four years from now, be sure to read up on, and observe, general shop etiquette before you entering any shop. Even if you don’t get “inked” this August, be sure to check out the Tattooed Librarians and Archivists Tumblr for fun and inspiration.

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