As one of America’s most creative cities, it’s no surprise that Boulder’s artistic expression extends off the paper and onto the skin.
Boulder County has more than a dozen tattoo shops and a handful of places to get pierced, too. If you’re looking to get inked or poked on your next visit to Boulder, it won’t be hard to find an artist to take care of you. But if you want the best of the best artwork, here’s where you want to go.
These are the best tattoo shops in Boulder, as well as the best place to get a piercing (or more).
Best Piercer in Boulder
It’s hard to dispute that K&K Piercing is the place to go for a piercing, whether it’s just getting your ears done or a more complicated surface piercing. This small shop located on University Hill has been a local staple for a long time, and it’s earned a reputation that draws people from across the Front Range. K&K specializes in piercings and only piercings, which brings its level of expertise and focus to a higher level than anywhere else.
5 Best Tattoo Shops In Boulder County
1. Bolder Ink, 2735 Iris Ave., Unit A, Boulder
Bolder Ink is widely recognized as one of Boulder’s top shops. It also gets the title as Boulder’s oldest tattoo shop. It’s stood the test of time. Today, Bolder Ink features five different artists, including the owner, Lance Talon. As with all quality shops these days, this shop does custom art.
2. Rising Tide, 3193 Walnut St., Boulder
Rising Tide has been coloring Boulder for more than a decade, led by skilled artist and owner Phill Bartell. The shop, which began as a one-man shop, has grown and now includes an art gallery, which bridges the gap between tattoos and fine art. Here, you can enjoy art on the walls and on the body. In fact, famous tattoo artist Ed Hardy’s original art has hung on these walls. If that’s not cred enough, nothing is.
3. Big Easy Tattoo, 1004 Depot Hill Road, Unit 2B, Broomfield
You’ll have to venture a bit beyond the Boulder bubble for this shop, but it’s well worth it. Big Easy’s award-winning artists, Ryan Hewell and Greg Fuller, run a relaxed, friendly shop that feels different than the traditional (sometimes intimidating) parlor. This shop is appointment-only, so you’ll need to call in advance to get in (and you may have to be prepared to wait, because the artists are in high demand).
Owner Hewell says what sets Big Easy apart is its extreme cleanliness, comfortable atmosphere and the quality of work.
Artist Fuller is also a highlight. He specializes in highly detailed, illustrative tattoos and one glance at his portfolio clearly proves he’s one of Colorado’s most talented tattooists.
4. Big Buddha Ink, 2770 Arapahoe Road, Unit 104, Lafayette
Big Buddha is something different. This homey, all-women shop is run by Holly Hunt, who is not only an incredible artist, but she also claims to be an energy healer and psychic (qualities that don’t suck to have in someone repeatedly poking you with permanent ink).
“I do a lot of psychic work with my clients. Not all of them, but the ones that I see need it or who have a spirit that won’t leave me alone the whole tattoo session. Usually, these are passed-away family members,” Hunt says. “I focus a lot on the importance of the healing aspect of my work with each client.”
She’s known as “The Tattoo Healer” and also claims to be the best cover-up tattoo artist around. Hunt grew up an artist; her mother is an oil painter.
Big Buddha is a new face on the scene; it opened in Lafayette in 2015. All tattoos are custom not just to the client’s mental ideals, but also with their energy in mind, Hunt says.
“The shop itself is very spiritual. I do energy work on the building when I come in, so it is a place of release for a lot of people,” she says.
5. Claw and Talon Tattoo, 695 Folsom St., Boulder
Claw and Talon not only has some good artwork, but it’s also highly active in the community and always seems to be involved with something creative and fun.
This shop ran the unique Boulder Tattoo Project several years ago. This was a community project where 200 Boulderites got short phrases or words from one single poem tattooed on different parts of their body, so when they came together, their tattoos completed the poem. The poem was written by Boulder poet Anne Waldman, one of the founders of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University.