The best tattoo studios in Shanghai

From simple doodles to full back murals, here's where to get your next tat

Photograph: Yang Xiaozhe
The body art scene in Shanghai is having a moment right now. With tattoo studios cropping up all over the city and touring artists drawn in by the vibrant landscape, we're spoilt for choice when it comes to getting inked. Still, since you can't try before you buy, it's important to find the right studio/artist before going all in. Whether you're after traditional Chinese designs, old-school or watercolours, here are some of the sharpest needles in town for all your inking endeavours.

Boobies Tattoo

Everything about this Japanese import is sharp, from its slick studio to its no-nonsense head tattooist, Ming. Specialising in old-school and traditional-style tattoos, Ming trained at renowned French studio Tin-Tin Tatouage and specialises in original designs. Standards here are particularly high, with imported inks and a focus on cleanliness. Tattoos are priced by size, with coin-sized works starting at 500RMB and from 2,000RMB for a CD case size. For larger works, rates go at 1,000RMB per hour.

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550 Shaanxi Nan Lu

Shanghai Tattoo

A fully bilingual tattoo studio founded in 2007 by China's 'Queen of Tattoos', Harbin native Zhuo Dan Ting, Shanghai Tattoo is one of the best-known parlours in the city. Touted for its high standards and imported equipment, the studio has long been popular amongst the city's international community. White the Queen herself is currently managing Shanghai Tattoo's expansion to the US at new California studio Ms. Tings Shanghai Tattoo, you can still take your pick from four experienced artists at the Maoming Bei Lu location. Tattooing in a range of styles – think traditional Chinese brushwork, watercolours, portraitures, tribal designs and more – the majority of artists' prices start out around 700RMB (simple designs up to around 8cm).

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1 Maoming Nan Lu

Cang Long Tattoo

Shen Weiguo's tattoo studio is one of Shanghai's most famous, best known for its intricate, traditional Chinese-style murals. First set up in 2008 in a small space on Changle Lu, Cang Long Tattoo opened a second (and much larger) studio a few years back on Yongjia Lu, which is where Shen himself is usually based. The Yongjia Lu studio has all the fittings of a stately English smoking room/study, sporting dark-wood furnishings, plush leather sofas, vintage desks and a bar. A local legend in the tattoo world, Shen has worked with the likes of Paul Booth and has attracted loyal followers all over the country. As with most things that attract a lot of attention, you'll pay a heavy sum to get inked by Shen himself – around 200,000RMB for a full back piece. However, Cang Long's other resident artists start out at around 1,200RMB for simple tattoos, reaching 36,000RMB for a back mural.

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425 Yongjia Lu, near

Sick Rose Studio

Formerly tucked away in a split-level land house on Jiashan Lu, Sick Rose moved earlier this year to new digs on Ruijin Er Lu. The name of the game here is old-school designs (also known as American style) drawn with bold black outlines and limited colours. Design ideas line the walls, or you can work with the four resident tattoo artists to draw something personalised. Sick Rose also has well-known guest artists coming in once a month from all across China and beyond – these tend to book up pretty quickly, so add WeChat ID 'sickrosetattoo' to find out more about who's incoming and book.

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Lane 38 Ruijin Er Lu

I-TATTOO

A tattoo parlour and then some, I-TATTOO is also a training centre for aspiring tattoo artists, a restaurant and bar, a shop and a gallery that's all about promoting tattoo culture across China. Around in Shanghai since 2015 (with another branch in Chengdu), I-TATTOO's current location on Panyu Lu sprawls out over 1,000sqm and offers a large roster of tattoo artists covering various styles, experience levels and price points. The open plan studio has a communal set-up with rows of tattoo chairs next to each other – if you're looking for something more secluded, there are curtains and a handful of private rooms. Tattoos are, for the most part, charged by the hour, starting at anything from about 1,000-2,000RMB depending on the artist.

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232 Panyu Lu
@tattoowwwith

@tattoowwwith

Roaming tattoo artists Wini Greeni (@winigreeni) and Taka (@tttt.taka) host regular Shanghai pop-ups under the name @tattoowwwith, working out of local studios and art spaces roughly two weeks per month. Originally from Hong Kong and Japan respectively, when they're not in Shanghai, Greeni and Taka tour all over, collaborating with other artists or arranging pop-ups across Asia and Europe. Both coming from a fashion and arts background, they're experimental with their styles, picking up new ideas and perspectives from their travels and partnerships. Greeni specialises in vintage designs (especially botanicals) with Asian influences, while Taka focuses on  geometric shapes and colour gradations. Prices start at around 1,500RMB per piece.

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