Best of Kent: Best Tattoo Parlor

Chase Ogle, 28, tattoos Kent State sophomore Regan Ferrell, 20, at Defiance Tattoo in downtown Kent on Tuesday, April 12, 2016.

Alexis Amato

1st Place – Defiance Tattoos

The entrance of Defiance Tattoos is inviting and comfy, with low lighting and black leather couches. This casual atmosphere and caring staff is what makes this tattoo parlor the best in Kent. 

“We care what we’re putting on people, and we really try to convey that
to our customers,” said Chase Ogle, a Defiance tattoo artist. “We want them to walk out with a nice, clean, long-lasting tattoo.”

Trendy is the best word to describe the vibe. The atmosphere is “awesome.”

“It’s mostly college students that come here. We’re also just like a giant family,” Ogle said. 


2nd Place – Smokin’ Tattooz

Smokin Tattooz prides itself on its artistry and heritage. “We’ve been here the longest. We’ve been here since ‘91. Never shut down,” said tattoo artist Jake Davis. “All the artists here paint and draw and tattoo. We try to make everybody who comes in the door feel at home and give them a good experience and make sure they’re happy.”

The lobby is open and full of bright, interesting paintings. “It’s real artsy. We did all the artwork here. When we’re not tattooing, that’s what we’re doing,” said Davis.

Located on East Main Street, Smokin’ Tattooz is a place where interested patrons can get artistic with their tattoos and piercings.

3rd Place – Tie 

Triptych Tattoo is one of the lesser known tattoo parlors around Kent, but that doesn’t stop them from differentiating themselves from other contenders. They pride themselves in being open to letting customers work in the designing process. They urge customers to walk around, watch the artists at work and to flip through the designs.

“We don’t try to follow the rules,” Casie Dehner, owner of Triptych, said. “We try to break away from the traditional stereotypes.”

Another lesser known tattoo parlor is South Water Studios. This parlor is run by a husband and wife team of Carlos Gonzales and Wendi Koontz. Wendi has a bachelors in graphic design from Kent State and an masters in illustration from School of Visual Arts in NYC.

The couple spent a little over 15 years tattooing in New York City and then decided to move back to Kent to be closer to family.

“We tend to be more appointment based because we like to take our time with our clients,” Koontz said. “My husband and I like doing what we do.”

Cleanliness is a main point at this establishment, where all equipment is single use only and discarded after each and every client.

“That’s the most important thing to us,” Koontz said. They aim to make creative, custom tattoos in a relaxed and friendly environment.