It’s hard to think of a consumer decision with more lasting impacts than the choice of a tattoo artist. (Obstetrician perhaps?) As your Navy-vet uncle’s smudgy forearms can attest, these things are permanent. And as your high school buddy’s barbed wire bicep can attest, regrets might hurt more than the tat itself. If you haven’t noticed, tattooing is in the midst of a prolonged boom -- perhaps even a long-term cultural shift. With nearly a dozen tattoo parlors in the county, ink junkies (yes, it’s quite addictive) have never had so many options, which can add to the already intense intimidation factor. That’s especially true for newbies. (Don’t worry, HSU students, we gotcha covered.)
Our readers have put in the legwork (and armwork, chestwork, lower-backwork, etc.) and reported back to us with their favorite body artists. The winner, Brian Kaneko, has been tattooing for roughly 13 years. He’s especially sought after for Asian-inspired work (chrysanthemums, koi fish half-sleeves, dragon and samurai full-body pieces, etc.) but says he’s happy to do any style. His shop, True Nature Tattoo, is on G Street in Arcata.
Runner up Henry Kruger is both an artist and a tattoo history buff. His Old Town Eureka parlor, Sailor’s Grave, doubles as a still-developing tattoo history museum, with a display case holding tattoo guns from the past 60 years and framed pictures of classic tat art. A fifth-generation local, Kruger says he tries not to have a specific style. “That in itself, after 17 years, has become a style,” he says.
Best artist description: “Creepy reptilian punker man.”
Best proud answer: “Meeeeeee.”
-- Ryan Burns
The Breakdown: Brian Kaneko 12.5%, Henry Kruger 9.2%, Dean Schubert 4.6%, Ted Marks 4.2%, Damien DeNolf 3.8%, Tom Harley 3.8%, Voter Turnout: 38th.