To help you clear through the clutter, here is a list of five tried-and-true tattoo parlors in downtown Olympia.
1. Olympia Tattoo Company
Olympia Tattoo Company may be one of the newest shops downtown. It opened June 2015, but owner Stacie Jascott has been tattooing in Olympia since 2000. The bright, beautiful shop, decorated with colorful art and a pretty chandelier, gives a more feminine vibe than other shops in town even though metal band EyeHateGod was playing during a recent visit. Olympia Tattoo Company is the only solely female-owned shop in Thurston County.
Artist Curtis James has also been tattooing in Olympia since 2000, and shares why he became a tattooist. “I was first attracted to it because of the permanence of it and the strength of the designs,” says Curtis. “I remember seeing old American Traditional design, and they just looked like these badges you earn—they were composed like a badge, with strong symbolism and simple to read.” The shop welcomes walk-ins and custom designs.
Artists: Stacie Jascott, Curtis James, Jason Calvert, Devon Blue.
Olympia Tattoo Company
613 Capitol Way S in Olympia
2. Electric Rose Tatto
Electric Rose Tattoo is Thurston County’s oldest tattoo shop. Since 1989, they have been permanently marking the skin of Olympians and passersby. Having gone through a few shopkeepers, including Sean Lindseth, who now owns Phantom Tattoo in Centralia, and Adam Craven, who has moved his art to Oddball Tattoo in Portland, the latest owners to carry the legacy of Olympia’s pioneer shop are Kyle Twiddy and Zachary Castanon, who have been in the spot since 2011. The small but comfortable shop feels professional yet tough, and is full of history, including car batteries still fastened under the counters for tattooists who like the clean energy of a battery-powered tool. While Kyle and Zachary both prefer the American Traditional style of tattooing, they are open to designs that come from the customers—typical of a “street shop” that welcomes walk-ins. “I love being an artist and being able to create something with my own hands,” shares Kyle.
Artists: Kyle Twiddy, Zachary Castanon.
115 Capitol Way N in Olympia
3. Exile Tattoo
Exile Tattoo is downtown Olympia’s largest shop, boasts six artists, and has been around since 2005. Inside the shop, which recently expanded from inside the old Urban Onion building entrance off Legion to street side on Washington, the vibe is funky and eclectic, and there are many styles to choose from. That is partly because of the number of artists and partly because of the cultures the artists come from, like artist Luiz Martinez, who hails from Mexico City. “Everyone has a different background, and different ethnicities,” says Luiz, who co-owns the shop with artist Tori Bracken, “so it creates a whole new spectrum of design – from simple lines to full back pieces.”
Artists: Luis Martinez, Tori Bracken, Lenny, A. Boyd Pecan, Noah Boyes, Booker.
116 Legion Way SE, Suite A in Olympia
4. Spidermonkey Tattoos
Spidermonkey Tattoos is located off Olympia’s main drag, 4th Ave, and is one of the few shops that has display windows, so if you see obscure items in the window, such as Christmas Krampus or taxidermy, you know you’ve found the place. Around since 2000, Spidermonkey is a full custom studio that doesn’t have “flash” on the walls, but large-scale custom and realism is what they’re known for. If you want a portrait done, Spidermonkey is the place. Owner Bryan Childs has been tattooing for nearly 25 years, and says he’s equally comfortable doing walk-ins or custom designs. With five established artists, and a seat for travelling artists, they are a collective hivemind who like to collaborate with their customers.
Artists: Bryan Childs, Matthew Gibaeu, Israel Caine, Josh Brown, Skrappy.
217 4th Ave. E in Olympia
5. Lit Fuse Tattoo
Lit Fuse Tattoo turns 13 this spring, and shop owner Marco Hernandez has been tattooing for nearly 20 years, all around the world. Influences from France, Italy, and Japan grace his style. Everyone who works in the shop has apprenticed under Marco, a tradition in the trade that has been fading in the last few years. Marco takes his apprentices under his wing for three years, and they then stay on at the shop as employees for a pre-determined number of years. American Traditional application is popular in the shop, but the artists prefer not to pigeonhole themselves into a genre. Keeping an open mind is important, both for the client and the artists, says apprentice Chris Childs. The shop has a friendly vibe with puns, art, and lettering plastering the walls.
Artists: Marco Hernandez, Jorge Flores, Jason Gill, Aaron Villanueva, Chris Childs.
Lit Fuse Tattoo
710 4th Ave. E in Olympia
If you want some good advice on getting a tattoo, artists at each of these shops agreed that customers should, look through artists’ portfolios, don’t let money be your guiding factor, and trust your tattooist.