The UK is a country that celebrates its tattoo artists. Having tattoos as a millennial is so much the norm that it’s almost stranger to not have any at this point. This means that the UK is flooded with some of the best tattoo artists working in the business right now.
Tattoo-lovers travel from the world over to get tattooed by a specific UK-based artist, and for good reason: UK tattoo artists are some of the best. There’s such a healthy, happy, vibrant, and dynamic tattoo industry in the UK; it’s one of the things we’re proudest of these days.
The Best UK Tattoo Artists 2021
Tattoo art in the UK really is art. So, let’s check out a handful of the most fantastic, interesting, and exciting tattoo artists that the UK has to offer. Of course, this list is personal to an extent. These are artists that we at Books and Bao have a real affinity for. We’ve either been tattooed by them or desperately want to be.
There’s a slight bias towards the nerdy side of tattooing amongst the UK tattoo artists in this list, which is all the rage right now (and we’re big nerds, so, of course you’ll find nerd tattoos here). But what you have here is a wide range of styles, each of which is instantly recognisable as their own. Okay, let’s jump in!
Read More: Check out our female-exclusive list of 10 wonderful women tattoo artists in the UK!
Chris Green is a revelation of an artist, not only amongst UK tattoo artists but across the world (which explains why he does so many guests spots). His art crosses so many borders and genres, tapping into old school and neo traditional, and somehow being at once real and surreal. He’s a jack and master of all trades.
Chris excels at big pieces that cover a wide area; bold and striking art that captures your attention and doesn’t let it go. He has a recognisable colour palette and lovely grasp of shape and flow. There can’t be enough good said about the work that Chris Green does as a tattoo artist. His work is smart and powerful, and we love it to bits!
Josh has tattooed both of us at Books and Bao, and has (full disclaimer) become a dear friend. He’s a kind, impassioned, and ludicrously talented artist. Beyond that, he was raised in Botswana and has a sister who is about to become a published author!
Until recently, Josh worked at Stallions and Galleons in Swansea alongside other legendary artists like Ali Burke and Dom Turner, but has now set up his own studio: Highwater Gallery. He is one of the undisputed best UK tattoo artists.
Read More: See more from Josh Young in our Harry Potter Tattoo List
Matt Daniels has been building and building and building a reputation across the nerdy tattoo world of UK tattoo artists for the past several years. Almost all of his designs are inspired by anime, video games, cartoons, and other delightfully nerdy media.
His love for the art of tattooing and the designs he comes up with can be seen in his unique take on the source material he draws from. He’s an artist giving tattooing a good and friendly name in this millennial world where the gruff sailor types are out and the sweet nerdy boys are in.
Matt has recently opened up his own studio, Season One Tattoo in Preston, UK. He’s one of the most original and exciting UK tattoo artists around.
Update: I’m happy to say I’ve had the pleasure of being tattooed by Matt myself, and he did me an incredible tattoo from one of my favourite manga: Chainsaw Man, as well as a tattoo from my favourite novel: Frankenstein. You can those here on my Instagram page.
Amongst London-based UK tattoo artists, Natália Jiménez stands out thanks to her unique brand of tattooing. Natália has made a name for herself as an artist of adorable, anthropomorphic animals. Mostly, she does cats, though you occasionally see other cute creatures if you browse her Instagram page.
All of these critters are adorable, sometimes inspired by nerdy and pop culture. Other times, they’re just cute cats doing cute things! Natália Jiménez has an eye for colour, softness, round features, and everything that goes into making her tattoos as sweet and wholesome as possible. She is an absolute treasure and if you’re looking for the cutest possible tattoos, she’s the UK tattoo artist you’ll want to pay a visit to!
Kolahari operates out of The Circle in Soho, London, and he’s an artist you’ll never confuse with anyone else. He is one of the most unique UK tattoo artists around.
Kolahari’s work is reminiscent of woodcuts (like those of M.C. Escher) and medieval artwork. Much of his art is made from simple lineworks of black and white, with crosshatching and chiselling effects which give his art that distinct Kolahari quality.
Though he does also dabble in colours. Half of his designs are medieval European in style, such as tarot cards, castles, skulls, and axes; and the other half are traditional Japanese in style, such as waves, peonies, cranes, snakes, and anime or video game-inspired designs.
He’s diverse in his influences but very, very distinct in his style. There’s nobody else like Kolahari. If you’re looking for the best London tattoo artist, Kolahari is it.
Read More: 11 Best Berlin Tattoo Artists!
There’s no artist in the UK I want to be tattooed by more than Merry. Not only is he based in my favourite English city (Bath), but he also does some of the sickest dark, black, gothic designs you’ll ever see. Deep black, gloomy vibes, and slick designs. There’s nothing else like it. These are the kind of tattoos you just can’t tear your eyes away from.
I’ve spent too long just staring at Merry’s Instagram page, mesmerised by the plague doctors, gothic castles, creepy snow globes, crows, skulls, and eerie creatures. It’s all too easy to become passionately invested in Merry’s work, and nobody would blame you at all.
While you’re in Bath getting tattooed by Merry, don’t forget to pick up some books at some of our favourite Bath bookshops.
Edinburgh-based artist Dani Green is one of the most electrifying and striking UK tattoo artists working right now. Her work is bold, bright, colourful, and playful; inspired by everything from natural landscapes and creatures to more nerdy designs reminiscent of Japanese and western pop culture.
The way that Dani Green sees and implements colour into her tattoos is inspiring, and the imaginative ways that she plays with her inspiration to create something wholly new and entirely her own will stay with you for a long time. Dani Green is one of the UK’s most beloved and celebrated tattoo artists for a reason. You need only glance over her work to see why!
Jack can do pretty much anything, but he particularly excels at bright and bold animal and human portraits that blend cartoon and realism. He works out of Cloak and Dagger in London and he’s without a doubt one of the best London tattoo artists you’ll find. There’s a gravity to Jack’s designs that captures you and reels you in.
It’s like each tattoo is a smooth pick-up line. Perhaps it’s the pure vibrancy and boldness of colour, of the tick and confident lines. Whatever it is, there’s something irresistible to Jack’s tattoos.
Based in Essex, Lois Clayton is a bright and colourful artist of bright and colourful tattoos. She specialises in areas of nerd culture — specifically tattoos inspired by the characters and worlds of Nintendo, Pokémon, and sometimes anime (such as the works of Studio Ghibli). Side note: the above tattoo was done on myself by Lois.
Her attention to detail when it comes to mixing colour, light, and shadow really allows her art to pop. And she never settles for just tattooing a character, but rather placing them in a fun and strange situation (such turning a Pokémon into an ice cream, a bowl of ramen, or a milkshake). Lois has a fun and fresh imagination that makes every tattoo she designs and delivers feel entirely original, and utterly beautiful to boot.
The Leeds-based tattoo artist RAB — real name Barney (I don’t know what RAB’s all about either) — is one of the slickest neo traditional UK tattoo artists around! His work harkens back to the best of old school tattooing, but his vision and the little tweaks he infuses into his work really makes it pop in that neo trad way.
Birds and plants are his strong suit, but the guy excels at most things, especially designs that are nostalgic for the old school. We’re big fans of his unique globe designs as well. Barney’s art is incredibly satisfying to behold. He has a great eye for detail and does a great job of blending that with the bold, stark colour palettes of old. Lovely stuff.
It’s portraits that Adam really is the master of. He leans away from absolute realism in favour of a bright and vibrant interpretation of real life. Utter realism is a risky business in tattooing that can scare many a client off, so Adam instead opts to blend vibrancy of colour with true life to create something fun and full of flavour.
If you’re in the mood for a portrait of your favourite fictional character or real-life icon, Adam has you covered for sure.
Hattie J Cox
Lichfield-based Hattie J Cox is a big name in the UK tattoo scene and, well, her art speaks for itself. Big, bright, and bold, it is full of shadow and texture and depth. Mesmerising, every piece. Hattie’s themes and designs lean towards the natural, with her excelling and depicting large flowers, forest creatures, and fruit. Birds, bugs, and berries all come alive through her needle.
We are particular fans of large pieces full of colour, and that’s exactly what Hattie is queen of. I can’t get enough of her art, and we’re sure you can’t either.
Working out of The Interbellum Tattoo Lounge in Essex, UK, Kodie is easily one of the most diverse artists working in the UK tattoo artist industry today.
With a style that’s hard to pin down – at times eerily realistic, at others very neotrad, and often neither — he’s truly one-of-a-kind. If you love your bright flowers, detailed creatures, colourful scenes, nerd-inspired designs, or traditional call-backs, Kodie can do it all. Seeing his ability to handle almost any kind of design and make it uniquely his own is truly awe-inspiring.
Jack Peppiette changed my mind completely about the more abstract black-and-white style of tattooing. These days the popular trends are bold colours, huge pieces depicting animals and flowers with intricate flowing script. Jack strips all of that away in favour of an intricately simple, precise, intimately beautiful, and mesmerising style of tattooing with a Polynesian and Indian influence.
You can find him at Insider Tattoo in Edinburgh, Scotland, and he is well worth the trip up north. The deep dark blacks and intricate blends of flowers and geometric patterns are hauntingly beautiful, and something that can completely mesmerise you if you’re not careful. I can’t get enough of his designs.
If you happen to find yourself in Seoul, Korea any time soon (although many of them guest tattoo around the world), here are ten tattoo artists there you can also check out!