In Buenos Aires, tattooing had always evoked images of badly made tattoos; random tribal patterns, names of lovers in a loose-handed script, a badly coloured Boca Juniors insignia.
Worldwide, the craft of tattooing has changed immensely in the past decade or so. No longer relegated to salty sailors, bikers and prison inmates, the next generation of tattoo artists are more likely to be straight-edge, vegan, sensitive art school grads.
Thankfully, the new school of quality tattoos has been growing in Buenos Aires and this writer believes that the following are the cream of the crop.
DS Tattoo Shop
Tebi Cobra has a distinct ‘homemade-high-school-exercise-book’ style in his tattoo designs. He’s the arty kid in your class that has amazing illustrations all over his homework. Don’t be fooled, it is only an aesthetic. The tattoos of this genre are well executed and have been championed by world renowned artists such as Slower Black and Katya Krasanova.
NEWS FLASH – DS Tattoo Shop are doing a special ‘Tattoo Flash Day’ on Sunday 8 May 2016, from 12 pm. For the uninitiated, this means the artists will be making tattoos from pre-drawn design sheets (‘flash sheets’) on a first come first served basis, AR$1500 per tattoo. So make like a drunken sailor, get down to Flash Day for a brand new tattoo!
We the South
This studio is a hidden gem, located in Palermo but outside the busy bar and shopping zones of Palermo Soho or Viejo.
Julian Louis of We the South is capable of executing beautifully detailed pieces, on fantastic subject matters in black and white and colour. His larger scale pieces are technically and artistically accomplished.
The studio has a good balance of style. Fabe Espinoza can also bust out a mean ol’ school piece, and Podri Disima does fun and colourful pieces for those who don’t aren’t taking life (or tattooing) too seriously.
“Bold Will Hold,” is a piece of tattoo wisdom often heard in old school tattooing circles.
In this writer’s opinion, the Numero Uno studio in town for that is Welldone Tattoos in Palermo.
The shop is beautiful and classic, with hand painted gold lettering on its windows and its name boldly stated above its shopfront, reminiscent of the legendary Smith Street Tattoo in Brooklyn, NYC. This studio has a solid roster of tattoo artists working primarily in the traditional style. Bold heavy lines, solid colours. Tattoos that will stand the vicissitudes of life and ageing.
Lady heads, tigers, daggers and roses, you may think you’ve seen it all, but Juan Manual Sancho aka Piranha brings a distinct style, a particular colour palette that is all his own. Individual style is difficult to achieve in a craft that often relies on the repetition of themes and templates handed down from old masters. As well as Piranha, the designs of Maso Manzur are particularly strong.
The atmosphere at the studio is unpretentious and the guys are friendly as hell. All tattoo geeks. As an added bonus, the studio is a 30 second walk from NOLA, so you can go celebrate your new regret with a tasty cerveza artesanal (‘craft beer’) and some fried chicken.
This is another solid studio in the Palermo area. These guys specialize in simple designs that pop with strong lines and colour, exemplified by my favourite artist from the studio, Francisco Garcia Pagano.
The others on the team are also great. Ignacio does bold and simple black and white designs. Ivan has a nice colour palette for pin-ups and lady heads. Gavriel has a colourful, mystical style that he brands ‘futurismo/primitvo’.
The Gipsy Family
This tattoo crew could easily be located in the heart of Williamsburg, NYC, (aka hipster capital of the world), rather than San Telmo. As well as being a solid tattoo studio for old fashion American style tattoos, they have a neat little shop that sells art, home wares and also vintage clothing. Check out the work/style of tattooer/model/owner of The Gipsy Family, Nat Cekauskas on Instagram.
Historia de Mi Vida
Another classically styled tattoo studio, fantastically named – the Story of my Life. Tripi and Ernesto both have a punk-rock and rockabilly aesthetic, reflected in the playful, ‘Rat Fink cartoon’ style of their tattoos.
At its best, tattooing can be a highly personal, meaningful experience. Of course it is perfectly fine to get a tattoo just for the hell of it…
And what better ‘souvenir’ than a well executed tattoo to remind you of your travels, like a stamp in a passport you will never lose?