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The best Philly tattoos


We mentioned a couple of days ago, spurred by the above excellent neon skyline tattoo above (done by Chad Knight at Boulevard Tattoo in Collingsdale), that we were gonna try to round up the boldest and beautiful-est Philly-love tattoos. We found a lot of LOVE Parks, a lot of sports team logos and a lot of Liberty Bells, but we’ve sorted through them all and come up with the neatest ones, starting with a rather less abstract skyline than the one above:



it was composed from 3 different photos found on the google image. design was re-drawn based on those photos. it was rearranged so that all main buildings can be shown in narrow space. i had hard time finding the “perfect photo” and unfortunately could not find one thus end up just making it up (based on the real thing).

This tattoo, still in progress, is being worked on by Masami Inagaki, a PAFA graduate with skills. She works out of Gemini Tattoo up in the Northeast, you can contact her there if you want some work done starting in 2010. But not koi:

i will be taking a break from koi tattoo til next summer. (9 koi designs just this year alone. sorry i’m bit tired of them. thank you for understanding!

benjaminart2 copy

These three are by Benjamin Harris, who works at Sink the Ink in Willow Grove. He got his degree in illustration from MICA and then did animation in video games, and boy are these some good-looking, original tattoos.


This one, of the giant clothespin sculpture at 15th and Market, was done by Clay at Body Graphics, at 4th and Bainbridge. It was emailed in by Kristen (whose leg that is), who said:

I got it because I wanted a Philly tattoo and I also wanted to make fun of the massive amount of people who have the Love Park sculpture tattoo. Hey people, there are other things that represent our city other than Love Park and the Liberty bell!

Indeed! It’s tough to strike the right balance between “instantly recognizable symbol of a city” and “touristy cliche in real life,” but the red clothespin does it pretty well in our opinion. Or you could just go across the street…


…to City Hall. I said goddamn! This was done by Shane O’Neill, who works out of Wilmington, Delaware and who obviously does some pretty fucking amazing black-and-white photorealistic stuff. O’Neill is an illustration graduate of U of Arts, so probably saw this south view of City Hall pretty frequently back in the day.


And as long as you’re gonna do the LOVE Park thing, you may as well get done it beautifully. From John Howie of Moo Tattoo on South Street near 5th.


Joey Vento? Can’t imagine anyone else would get this; although it looks very nice, we can’t imagine there’s more than one person willing to act as a billboard for Geno’s. It does, however, very much recreate the atmosphere of that one gaudy, neon-ass block, so we’ve included it regardless of opinion of Joey Vento. This one was done by Philly Ink Tattoo, near the Allegheny El stop.

Screen shot 2009-11-16 at 1.45.23 PM

What more can you say? There is no place like home, especially when home is a Keystone Ben Franklin surrounded by Mountain Laurels and fireflies (those would be our state flower and insect, btw). Not entirely sure about the lilies and the Canada Goose (as our state bird is in fact the ruffled grouse), but I did find out while looking those up that our state toy is the Slinky and that is totally sweet.

Like the clothespin above, this one was done at Body Graphics, but by Carla Hopkins, who has a portfolio that’s heavy on the interesting before-and-after coverup work. We suggest you click through the link, because tattoo coverups are inherently pretty tragicomic.


By Braden Kendall of Eddie’s Chinatown Tattoo (in, uh, Chinatown). We like the pairing of these two little demonic birds with Philly imagery (PA may be the ruffled grouse, but Philly is the HELLBIRD WITH EYES OF FIRE. Or probably the Eagle, on second thought. Never mind).

Lastly, I was positive that if I went looking I’d find at least one person with a tattoo of Will Smith, and, as it turns out, I was triply correct. One person has this insane Will-Smith-as-Hancock on his leg, by L.A.’s Cecil Porter:


And it is alleged that not one but TWO people have this same tattoo of Will Smith eating Rap Snacks, and that the tattoo copycat is Creighton Barrett of Band of Horses.


OK, seriously, as an unconfirmable rumor that’s way too good to be true, “The drummer from Band of Horses ripped off a tattoo of Will Smith eating Rap Snacks” of  of this ranks up there with “Nicolas Cage was once arrested for stealing a chihuahua” and “A-Rod has two paintings of himself as a centaur over his bed.”

If it exists, Rap Snacks Willie is always hiding under a lot of plaid stuff in photos. Anybody got a picture of Creighton Barrett with his shirt off?

emily g | Nov 18 2009 9:11am | Uncategorized, philly, roundups, 19090, 19116, 19134, 19147, 19709, tattoos | Comments 29

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Brian McManus  says:

This is the greatest post in the history of people posting.

Nov 18 11:12 AM

Hannah  says:

I’m pretty sure that the “Canada goose” on that righteous back tattoo strongly suggests the Wawa logo.
This post is a grand tearjerking fugue of awesome.

Nov 18 1:20 PM

Faye  says:

Love this post! But the tat of the cheese steak with the Phillies “P” written in cheese makes me want to barf

Nov 18 2:02 PM

lauren  says:

This might sound crazy — but the black ink tats are so intense that it’s like I can feel them. Great post. :)

Nov 18 2:03 PM

Dorothy  says:

Love this post. I know that Johnny Knoxville has a Wawa tattoo, which I always found kind of bad ass.

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The Flyers Pretzel may just be the best thing I’ve seen in a while!!

Nov 18 3:58 PM

Christopher  says:


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emily g  says:

oh of course it’s a Wawa goose, can’t believe I didn’t get that

Nov 20 11:09 AM

multilingual tattoo fun « Aniareads Weblog  says:

[...]  Something to browse through at a slow pace to end this post: ‘best Philly tattoos.’ [...]

Nov 22 10:01 AM

pete  says:

Can’t believe you missed the guy with the Philly Beer Week logo tattoo, based on the Love sculpture.

Nov 24 7:51 AM

A brief history of neon | PW Style | A blog about style, fashion, beauty, arts and culture by Philadelphia Weekly  says:

[...] P.S. – Len Davidson made the Zipperhead logo, the old Silk City Pontiac at the top AND the neon skyline that inspired that utterly great tattoo we posted about a while back. [...]

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Ben Harris is the best Tattooist! I get all my work done by him at Sink The Ink in Willow Grove and Doylestown!!!

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Fantastic collection of tatoos

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Charles Whiteside  says:

IT’S TRUE. I drew that tattoo. Creighton had asked me to do an illustration for him to get tattooed but nothing came of it. At another Aaron (the guy in this pic) asked me and gave me a list of his favorite things so I made the Rap Snacks drawing. A lot of people thought the drawing was funny and Creighton decided to get the tattoo. I told him it was cool as long as Aaron didn’t mind. He didn’t ask and Aaron was pissed that someone else (in a band) got the tattoo and he would be the one accused of copying.

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Here are some others that are good in the Philly area including links to the reviews, websites, and Facebook pages:

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