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Tattooing is an ancient art form; centuries old and embedded in the heritage of cultures worldwide. Yet in western culture tattooing and body modification has bared the burden of a taboo classification and the scrutiny of a more conservative idea of what is acceptable. Luckily in San Francisco—our little seven square mile stamp in this world—we can enjoy what can only be called a renaissance of acceptance and appreciation for something as personal and expressive as a tattoo is.

Underground public transit is full of white collar workers sporting visible works of body art that in the past would have been more common place for your local bartender or career musician. Self expression, individuality, acceptance, and commonality is something we as a community value and cherish, and it reaches out to and embraces anyone who chooses to call San Francisco home.

We enjoy the best food, the best art, the best medical care, the best technology, the best yoga instructors, the best music, the best night life, the best social activism, and the best quality of life, so it's no stretch that we also enjoy the most passionate and individual tattoo artist that the world has ever seen.

Tattoo artists themselves have a very diverse and personal attraction to the art form. They come from many different backgrounds, but something has called them to the trade. It is in this respect that their deep seeded connection to their work is something to be admired. Their commitment to such a personal and permanent form of self-expression is rewarding in many ways, and San Francisco is their living canvas.

Here, we've curated a catalog of what we consider to be some of San Francisco's most talented tattoo artists, and are a small representation of the abundance of individuals in our city worth commending for their skill and artistic capacities.

Click on photos to read about the tattoo artists highlighted in this special issue