Nature has the sky, painters have their canvasses and tattoo artists
have people’s skin to paint upon. In the same manner that there are
countless stars in the sky and myriads of painters throughout history
with varying brush strokes, there are also an untold number of tattoo
artists since time immemorial silently.

The Most Famous and Beloved Tattoo Artists in the World

But just as only the brightest stars can be seen clearly from afar, and
only the master artists make it in the hall of fame, so is there only a
handful of tattoo artists that will go down in history for
revolutionizing this once taboo practice and turning it into a
meaningful movement and a much loved trend.

So let’s start with the legends and move to the trendsetters.


George Burchett

George Burchett famost tattoo artists

Also known as George ‘Professor’ Burchett, this Englishman was dubbed
as the ‘King of Tattooists’ and one of the most famous tattoo artists
in the world. Burchett was the first celebrity tattooist and a favorite
among the royals and the rich of Europe. Among his customers were King
Alfonso XIII of Spain, King Frederick IX of Denmark, the ‘Sailor King’
George V and Horace Ridler. His designs were a mix of African, Japanese
and Southeast Asian motifs, and he was the one who introduced the world
to cosmetic tattoos, starting with eyebrows. He died at the ripe age of
80, doing tattoos on the wealthy upper class till the end of his life.


Whang-od Oggay

Whang-od Oggay famost tattoo artists

An aborigine tattoo artist, Whang-od is a native of Kalinga Apayao,
Philippines. The oldest and perhaps the last of her peers, she has
inked the indigenous people of Kalinga, including the now tamed
headhunters or Butbut warriors whose tattoos were earned through
protecting villages or killing enemies. Her tattoos used to come with
chanting and fortune telling, in celebration of the Warriors’
victories. Today, tourists flock to Buscalan, Kalinga to be hand inked
by Whang-od, who still uses indigenous materials. Her nomination as one
of the National Living Treasures and one of the National Artists of the
Philippines is under deliberation. At the ripe age of 102 years,
Whang-Od is perhaps one of the most famous female tattoo artists in the


Horiyoshi III

horiyoshi famous tattoo artists

A famous tattoo artist in Japan, Horiyoshi uses the Japanese hand
tattooing or traditional tebori technique. Horiyoshi charges by tens of
thousands of dollars for his legendary body art which may take years to
finish. His famous works have been compiled into books: “Tattoo designs
of Japan”, “Tattoos of the floating world” “Studying Horiyoshi 3” and
nine others.


Sompong Kanphai

(Ajarn Noo Kanpai)

Sompong Kanphai famous tattoo artists angelina jolie

Kanphai may not have been featured in reality shows but he had the
honor of inking one of the most beautiful female celebrities in the
world, Angelina Jolie. During her visit to Thailand, Jolie had Kanphai
do a 7.8 x 7.11-inch tiger tattoo on her lower back. Kanphai is a well
known local artist in Bangkok, and the tiger was the second that he did
on Jolie, the first being an ancient Cambodian script designed to ward
off bad luck. The ink came with a chanting, an ancient hymn to bless
the bearer of the tattoo. Kanpai also enjoys the title “world’s most
famous Sak Yant Tattoo Artist.” There is no question that Ajarn Noo
Kanpai has become one of the most famous female tattoo artists in the


Say Teven

Say Teven famous tattoo artists

Since the Khmer Rouge wiped out the majority of tattoo artists in
Cambodia, sacred tattoo artists are hard to come by nowadays. It is Say
Teven’s good fortune that he survived the plague, and it’s a privilege
to be one of the rare breeds that still practice the sacred magic in
its Buddhist, Hindi and animistic roots. World famous tattoo artist of
Say Teven’s calibre usually have a few traditions that they follow
prior to inking their subjects. Teven’s clients are required to kneel
before him with an offering of fruits candle and incense, as Teven
recites a spell in Pali, he sprinkles his clients with holy water and
yellow flower petals as part of the inking ritual. To seal in the
magic, Teven blows on the graceful jet black lines and twirls, as his
final and finishing touch.


Zhou Danting

Zhou Danting famous tattoo artists

The first lady of tattoo in a nation with 1.3 billion population,
China. Covered by black and green ink from head to toe (well, almost),
Zhou weds Chinese and Western tattoo style, allowing her to stand apart
from others and build a very lucrative inking business. She is known
for her negative space, background effects, and textures which she
developed on her own. Part of the list of most famous tattoo artists
who does ultra-realistic portraits on the skin, it is said that other
professionals who have been doing the craft for ten years or more are
not capable of even getting close to what Zhou can do.


Samuel O’Reilly

Samuel O'Reilly famous tattoo artists

The son of Irish immigrants, Samuel was a New York based tattoo artist
who learned the art of inking while he was in the Navy. His huge
contribution to the world of tattoo is that he patented the first
electric tattoo machine in 1891. I am sure that the list of world
famous tattoo artists would greatly diminish if not for Samuel O’Reilly
and his invention.


Bang Bang

Keith Bang Bang McCurdy famous tattoo artists

Keith “Bang Bang” McCurdy’s famous clients include Rihanna, Justin
Bieber, Miley Cyrus, among other Popstars. He is hailed by Tattoo
magazines as one of the top contemporary famous tattoo artists, with
Vogue going taking a step further, naming him “the most famous tattoo
artist in the world.”


Jonathan Valena a.k.a. JonBoy

Jonathan Valena a.k.a. JonBoy famous tattoo artists

JonBoy is reputed to have tattooed over 20 thousand people in his
lifetime. He is the favorite artist for the Kardashian family, most
notably Kendall Jenner, whose ink he considers to be his most
meaningful work so far. The Biebs also had Jonboy’s hand on him, as
well as other celebrities who were drawn to the amazing Instagram posts
of his works which has thousands of followers. His work on Bella Hadid
brought him international acclaim getting him considered as one of the
world famous artists: a miniature pair of wings on her ankles to
commemorate her Victoria’s Secret Fashion show. His mastery of the
delicate, fine line and clean art style has brought a new wave of crowd
interested in body art. A Jonboy tattoo is now a cult status symbol
among post-millennials and celebrity-obsessed clientele.


Kat Von D

Kat Von D famous tattoo artists

Kat is first an American tattoo artist, a model, musician, an author,
entrepreneur, and a television personality. Like Campbell, she was also
raised up in a strictly Christian environment, where a tattoo is a
taboo. And who would be her most famous clients but the “prodigal
daughter” Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, another famous celeb who also
had a Christian upbringing. Looks like the religious stigma on tattoos
is really dispelled by the stars, and we also have Kat Von D to thank
for. This pretty and daring lady popularized tattoo through her two
reality shows Miami Ink and LA Ink, both based on the body art
inking. She’s tattooed Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga, and Demi Lovato making
her one of the most famous female tattoo artists in the world.


Ami James

Ami James famous tattoo artists

Having lived in Israel and Egypt as a child, Ami James grew up with
rich heritage, which he eventually translated into art and tattoo. His
father being a tattoed artist himself, Ami James rose to fame and
became part of the list of famous tattoo artists because of his reality
shows Miami Ink, NY Ink, featuring his own tattoo parlor Love Hate
Tattoos of Miami Florida and Five Points Tattoo of New York.


Bob Tyrrell

Bob Tyrrell famous tattoo artists

An American tattoo artist, Tyrrell’s share of fame is partly due to him
having been featured in London Ink and LA Ink television show. Having
Kid Rock as a client also contributed to his popularity as one of the
famous tattoo artists who have inked a celebrity.


Sailor Jerry

Sailor Jerry famous tattoo artists

Norman Keith Collins in real life, Sailor Jerry got his nickname
because of his tattooing of sailors. A prominent American tattoo
artist, he was featured in a documentary movie called “Hori Smoku”
because of his influence on the art of modern tattooing. Today, he is
honored in Hawaii by an annual event called the “Sailor Jerry
Festival”. No doubt, he is in our list of world famous tattoo artists.


Don Ed Hardy

Don Ed Hardy famous tattoo artists

Hardy learned his art in Japan and became recognized as part of the
group of most famous tattoo artists for adapting Japanese tattoo
aesthetics and techniques into his American style. He wrote and
published more than 25 books on tattoo art. He has also licensed his
own brand of clothing, accessories, perfume, and many other products
based on his art.



Mike Rubendall

Mike Rubendall famous tattoo artists

If you wish to be inked by this master, you have to wait in line for at
least one year. Rubendall’s popularity is mainly due to the accolades
heaped upon him: His studio at Kings Avenue was ranked top-5 in New
York City by Inked (2015), Huffington Post named him as an artist to
follow on Instagram (2014) and he was named as one of the top “city
inkers” by New York Magazine. He was also featured on VICE as part of
Tattoo Age, seasons 2 and 5 of the Ink Master, Tattoo Wars, and Prick.
With these awards under his belt, he is truly one of the more famous
tattoo artists of his time.


Joey Pang

Joey Pang famous tattoo artists

Pang is a Hong Kong based female Chinese Tattoo Artist whose artwork
and exhibitions enjoyed wide media coverage. She has been featured by
AP, Al Jazeera, CNN, The Travel Channel, and many others. Because Pang
is known for being one the famous female tattoo artists of the 21st
century, Lewis Hamilton and Hong Kong celebrity Candy Lo are among her
many celebrity clients.


Mark Mahoney

Mark Mahoney famous tattoo artists

Hailed as a living legend, Mark is considered the “founding father” of
black and grey art with a single needle (unlike the

best derma rollers

that have hundreds of needles). He is most known for his black and
grey images of religious icons, girls, bombs, guns and old school
collages. He was a huge influence during the time when tattoo was
illegal in Boston during a time period “when you had to be an outlaw,
or you had to be a real brave soul to get a tattoo,” Mark said. This
earned him a spot as one of the most famous tattoo artists of his time.


Darren Brass

Darren Brass famous tattoo artists

His charming and sweet demeanor made Darren Brass popular with his
clients who feel at ease with him right at first meeting. He was made
even more famous when he was featured in the reality television show
“Miami Ink”.


Yoji Harada

Yoji Harada famous tattoo artists

A Japanese by birthright, Yoji moved to the US and by a stroke of luck
apprenticed under Ami James. He was later featured in the reality tv
show Miami Ink, where his progress from apprentice to professional
tattoo artist was chronicled along with his marriage and the birth of
his daughter. The success of the show made him very popular and one of
the more famous tattoo artists in his native country, Japan.


Nikko Hurtado

Nikko Hurtado famous tattoo artists

An American tattoo artist who specializes in realistic and colored
portrait tattoos, Hurtado has traveled the world to leave his ink
prints and wisdom in a variety of places. He has shared his talent by
holding many instructional seminars about the use of his color theory
and technique. He was also featured on LA Ink and Ink Master television
shows and participated as a jury for the Chaudesaigues Award. Other
world famous tattoo artists have already proclaimed their admiration of
Nikko Hurtado.


Oliver Peck

Oliver Peck famous tattoo artists

One of the best and well-known ‘old school’ American style artists,
Peck completed 415 tattoos of the number 13 within 24 hours, earning
him a spot in the Guinness Book of Records and getting put on the list
of world famous tattoo artists. Peck has traveled the world doing what
he loves most, body ink. He co-owns two tattoo parlors, one in Dallas,
Texas and the other is in Holywood, California. He was once married to
famous female tattoo artist Kat Von D.


Vyvyn Lazonga

Vyvyn Lazonga famous tattoo artists

In a male-dominated arena, it’s refreshing to see women such as Vyvyn
Lazonga make it as one of the world’s famous tattoo artists. Vyvyn had
a difficult time being recognized for her craft as women were a rare
sight in the field of skin art during her younger days, way back in
1979. But because of her work, she has paved the way for women in the
tattoo industry. She was cited by Virginia Lautman as the artist who
helped “shift tattoos away from fashionable little rainbows, flowers,
and unicorns to the larger, fine-arts-related custom designs.”


Cally-Jo Pothecary

Cally-Jo Pothecary famous tattoo artists

Cally-Jo Pothecary of Southampton, United Kingdom is both a fine artist
and tattoo artist. She has done tattoos on Rihanna and actress Sienna
Miller among many other celebrities. She has been featured in magazines
and advertising campaigns, largely due to her collaboration with the
Coffee Vs. Gang campaign. Gang members used to have special tattoo
symbolic of a life of crime in Honduras, but because of the Cally-Jo’s
original work which captured the rich symbolism of tattoos, and touched
on the hopeful potential of coffee farming as an alternative to gang
life, she rose to the rank of world famous tattoo artists.


Sarah Gaugler

Sarah Gaugler famous tattoo artists

A world famous tattoo artist of Filipino-American descent, Sarah
graduated from the University of Santo Tomas. She is also a visual
artist, designer, illustrator, model, actress, and musician. But among
her many talents, there is something in body ink that just draws her
in. She finally found her niche and most loved passion as she gradually
built a steady flow of clientele, including celebrities in Manila. Her
fame took her studio to the neighborhood of Manhattan where she is now
presently stationed.


Lauren Winzer

Lauren Winzer famous tattoo artists

Australia’s best bet for the list of world famous tattoo artists, Laura
Winzer is known for her cute dreamy piece of ink, everything that any
sweet and romantic heart would want. Her palette consists of pastel
colors, and she specializes in delicate and tiny tats such as flowers
and cats. She can also do realistic portrayals of any subject. She
skyrocketed into fame after giving Miley Cyrus a realistic avocado
tattoo at the back of her forearm.


Kevin Paul

Kevin Paul famous tattoo artists

Kevin Paul, a UK based tattoo artist specializes in dark art such as
skull and rose designs with a lot of shadow play. What makes Kevin Paul
stand out from other famous tattoo artists is that he helps people who
are unsatisfied with their tats and fixes them for free. His clientele
belongs to the A-list, which includes Ed Sheeran, Harry Styles, Travis
Barker and many more.


Scott Campbell

Scott Campbell famous tattoo artists

Brought up in a legalistic Christian environment, Scott Campbell would
have been an unlikely candidate as a tattoo artist, let alone as one of
the world’s finest most famous tattoo artists. He did not, however,
allow his Christian background to suppress the artist within. Although
tattoo totally goes against the principles of his strict Baptist
upbringing, Campbell can’t be caged, so he spread his wings in spite of
his religion. His love for tattoo, however, can’t totally obliterate
his faith, so he did what lovers often do – he married his faith with
his passion and named his tattoo shop “Saved Tattoo”. As if tattoo
indeed is his saving grace, the move catapulted him to fame, proving
that his God is not that legalistic after all. His first ever celebrity
patron was Heath Ledger.

A visual artist himself, Scott Campbell took tattoo to a whole new
level by initiating tattoo exhibitions in New York City, Los Angeles,
Moscow, and London.


Paul Booth

Paul Booth famous tattoo artists

A multi-talented artist, Paul Booth sculpts, paints, does films and
music, yet he is best known for the impact he made on the world as one
of the world famous tattoo artists of his time. His dark surrealistic
inclination influenced his tattoo designs, a style unique to him alone.
Depicting demons, beasts and evil fetuses, his tattoo parlor is aptly
named as Last Rites, where people who love the dark dominion flock.


Chris Núñez

Chris Núñez famous tattoo artists

Chris is of Cuban descent, which explains his very filial nature. His
first tattoos, which he got when he was only 16 years old, were the
names of his parents. Sadly, his father died when he was 18. Out of
frustration, he rebelled from that time on until he was in his late
twenties. His love for tattoo helped him get back on his tracks though.
He is now a proud owner of Handcrafted Miami, a tattoo parlor, and a
gallery and because he is renowned by many famous tattoo artists, he is
hailed as the most recognizable ink ambassador in Miami. Like some of
his peers, he was also featured in TV shows Miami Ink and Ink Master,
which also contributed to his fame and success.


Sua Sulu’ape Paulo II

Sua Sulu'ape Paulo II famous tattoo artists

A master tattoo artist, he was known as tufuga ta tatau in his native
Samoa. Sua is of royal tattooist descent – he was born into one of the
leading family of master tattooists, known internationally for their
culturally distinctive and highly skilled workmanship. He traveled
extensively, became known in Europe as one of the famous tattoo artists
and held exhibits at Tattoo Museums. He was a much-celebrated figure in
Samoa and the international community until his sudden death in 1999.

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