Get inked: a rundown of Pittsburgh’s tattoo options


By Kat Prosachik / Staff Writer

Years ago, tattoos signaled nonconformity and originality. Body art, now a very mainstream trend, is considered socially acceptable by most, especially the millennial generation.

The first evidence of tattoos were in depictions of ancient Polynesian cultures and on the statues around Easter Island. The meanings of these tattoos are widely debated, but most scholars agree that in ancient cultures, tattoos were used as a way to describe a person’s rank in their society. Different cultures had different methods of tattooing and had different tattoo types according to their traditions. 

Today, needles, not a bone, are used to puncture holes in the skin for tattoos. While other technologies have advanced, so has the technology and reasoning for tattooing. They have become pieces of artwork, memorials and identifiers — ways for people to make themselves unique. 

Pew data from February 2010 shows that nearly four in 10 millennials have tattoos. 

Pittsburgh offers a wide variety of tattoo shops, featuring different price ranges and design options. Below are a few featured shops and Pitt students’ stories on their tattoo experiences. 

Jester’s Court 

115 Oakland Ave. 

Phone: 412-621-2412

Hours: Monday-Saturday noon-8 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.

Two artists at this location

“I walked in one random Wednesday, and the guy asked when I wanted it done. He literally drew up my tattoo and then did it in between two of my classes in an hour. It was bad-ass, and it’s my favorite tattoo I have.” ­— Colleen McGee, junior English literature major

Price per hour: $100 

Jester’s Court South Side Location

1410 E. Carson St.

Phone: 412-488-8287

Hours: Monday-Saturday noon-8 p.m. Sunday noon-6 p.m.

Three to four artists at this location

“I thought it was really clean. It was my first tattoo, and it’s pretty small. He charged me $50, which is the minimum, so I thought the pricing was fair, too. The artist was really chill, and he kept re-doing the script on the sketch until it was exactly what I wanted. I’ve had it for two years and haven’t had an issue.” — Rachel Sansonetti, junior communications and psychology major

Price per hour: $100

In the Blood

2005 E. Carson St.

Phone: 412-481-3380

Hours: Monday 1-8 p.m., Tuesday-Saturday 1-9 p.m.

“The artists and employees were personable and friendly. They were quite helpful, as well, and worked with me to hash out exactly what I wanted done. The artist who did my first tattoo was nice, understanding and good at keeping me calm through the process. That meant a lot to me, especially since it was my very first tattoo. I got both of my tattoos about a year and a half ago, and the ink has stayed well with minimal fading and blurring.” — Victoria Brown, senior in the PharmD program at the School of Pharmacy

Price per hour: $100-$150 and a $60 minimum

Black Cat Tattoos

3419 Butler St.

Phone: 412-621-1679

Hours: Monday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., closed Tuesday-Wednesday, Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday 12:30-6 p.m.

“Cara did a piece of mine that took about 3.5 hours and charged $250, which is definitely more than fair. Super friendly, and she explained every part of the process. Any time she had stopped for a bit, she’d let me know when she was starting again. Very professional.” — JD Schroeder, Pitt alumnus

Price per hour: $150

South Side Tattoo and Body Piercing

2208 E. Carson St.

Phone: 412-381-5401

Hours: Monday-Friday noon-9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m.-9 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.

Four artists

“I was the first female tattoo artist in Pittsburgh and the first woman to own a tattoo shop in the state of Pennsylvania. At that time, tattooing was a man’s thing. I started tattooing about 20 years ago, after working in my brother’s tattoo shop. We get a lot of college students in here. You can definitely tell when it’s finals week because it’s just dead in here. Every single one of our artists are completely well-rounded, so that anyone who walks in can go to one of our artists and know that they are getting a great tattoo. Most of what we do is custom work, though some still come in for flash.” — Veronica Ray, owner and artist of South Side Tattoo and Body Piercing

$50 minimum 

Kyklops Tattoo and Body Piercing

2130 E. Carson Street

Phone: 412-488-8200

Hours: Monday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Tuesday noon-9 p.m., Wednesday-Thursday 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday-Saturday noon-10 p.m., Sunday noon-6 p.m.

Three artists

“Every tattoo artist can work in the different styles, but I would say that Richie and Pete do more American traditional tattoos, while I do a lot of just pretty tattoos, photo realism and Japanese-style tattoos. Kyklops has been here for eight years now, and I’ve been here for most of that time. We do mostly custom work because it seems that most people think flash is unoriginal, though I think that’s a misconception. I got started in 2005 through an apprenticeship, which is how most tattoo artists start.” -Erin Hosfield, tattoo artist at Kyklops