Best Tattoo Parlor (2009)

The Ink Lab

Looking to get inked in a seedy back alley salon with your new biker friend Gus, who's getting an "I [heart] Mom" on his left bicep to match the blue prison rose on his leg? Look elsewhere. When owner-artist David Dettloff opened the Ink Lab in 1995 armed with an M.F.A., a needle, and 10 years of tattoo culture immersion, his goal was to stand out from the "seedy and mean" tattoo parlors of the day. The Ink Lab's bright, candy-colored shop is one of the cleanest (meaning safest) tattoo parlors around. Only single-use, autoclave-sterilized needles are used in viral-disinfected work areas. All the artists—David, Charlie, Ernesto, and Kryss—are licensed by the city of Minneapolis, and the Lab is regulated by the Department of Environmental Health. The shop creates true skin art of all varieties but refuses to tattoo anything hate- or gang-related and anyone underage or intoxicated. The red and yellow TATTOO sign emblazoned on West Lake Street entices full-sleeved tattoo aficionados and porcelain-skinned novices alike, so feel free to stop by, because unfortunately we won't be seeing the Ink Lab on a Minneapolis Ink anytime soon. "I'm all for self-promotion, but I'm not interested in having a camera that deep in my life," says Dettloff, who'd rather focus on doing good work. Walk in ready to get stuck by needles, and you'll walk out with a tattoo good enough to frame.


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