The art of the tattoo is an ancient one, and as embedded into East End culture as ink in skin. Roman Road’s tattoo studios offer a microcosm of East London’s blends between old school tattooing styles and fresh new techniques.
In the wake of a brand new tattoo studio opening on the road, we round up the local parlours where you can get the tightest tats. From classic portraits to dot-work to traditional Japanese styles, the tattoo studios on Roman Road can cater to anyone’s unique inky needs. After all, it is permanent.
Pride has been on Roman Road for 16 years, 10 of those in its special spot between Denningtons and Snap. A favourite with locals, Pride has built up personal relationships as well as welcoming people from afar.
Pride has two tattoo artists, Tracy and Jay. Jay has been a resident of the shop for about five years and came from a background in graffiti and illustration. He specialises in fresh, modern, quirky designs, like splatters and the more avant guarde styles in the tattoo scene.
Tracy is the owner and boss of the shop. Her style is classic, and though she’s capable of just about anything, she’s especially good for reworks, cover-ups, full portraits and wildlife. Customers have returned again and again for Tracy’s skill in classical, old-school tattoo style.
Shen is the resident piercer, and she has become a favourite for her skill with the needle especially with quick piercings for babies. As a Muslim herself, she is also a favourite among local Muslim women.
Pride is a godparent to the local inked and pierced community, both for the years of experience as a studio on Roman Road, and also as a place to hang out and chat on their comfy sofas.
Recently, Pride began a charitable program for those recovering from cancer or with alopecia: one Tuesday every month, they will tattoo areolas and microblade-style permanent eyebrows for free.
Dharma opened four years ago at the hand of Yeshe, a Tibetan Buddhist with a speciality in large scale traditional Japanese style tattoos. Since then, it has grown into an international hub for world-famous tattoo artists, tattoo connoisseurs from around the globe, and of course, East Enders.
Dharma hosts a number of guest artists, as well as up to nine resident artists who seem as comfortable together as a happy family. The walls are covered with flash pieces and designs old and new, and it seems clear that self-proclaimed tattoo geeks travelling from other continents would feel in awe when they step inside.
But the biggest tattoo geeks are the artists themselves in Dharma. They are happiest when on either end of an ink gun, and every hour they spend not on one side of a needle they’ll be drawing. Often, even after the studio closes its doors on the market stretch of Roman Road, the crew will be scribbling away their new designs and keeping up to date on the freshest tattoo trends.
The new kid on the block, Fleshformers has only just been welcomed onto the high street. At the moment the space is as fresh as the designs on their Instagram, but studio runner Lazaros has big ideas for his parlour.
Lazaros is a piercer by trade, but has gathered a team of great tattoo artists, including his friend Dino from back home in Greece, to offer Roman Road locals and visitors an inclusive range of tattoo styles. Like Dharma, he hopes to host a guest spot, ideally almost permanently in one of the five tattooing spaces.
Fleshformers isn’t just going to be a tattoo parlour. On top of his piercing, both the basic and glitzy, Lazaros is working towards providing microblading and semi-permanent makeup in the studio. It’s all part of forming flesh in various kinds of ways.
Beyond the flesh, artists will offer their art and illustrations. If paper is too boring for you, you can bring in another item you want illustrated — so time to get those plain white trainers vamped up.
Overall, Fleshformers will have a mantra of honest quality over money-hunting. Artists won’t be charging by the hour, simply because some are faster than others, and Lazaros doesn’t want customers to worry about taking breaks in long sessions of tattooing.
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